Smartphones have not impacted camera market claims leading dealer

By Patrick Avenell

Although smartphone manufacturers are constantly promoting the imaging quality of the various handsets on the market, one retailer does not believe camera phones have had the significant impact on the market that was originally expected.

Major smartphone suppliers such as Samsung, Nokia and HTC have all released smartphones with heavily promoted photography features, often partnering with an established name in photography, such as Carl Zeiss, to enhance imaging credentials.

Apple has been particularly aggressive in this space, running dedicated advertisements on TV for its iPhones with the tagline ‘it could be the only camera you need’.

Apple iPhone 4S TVC.

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When Current.com.au sat down with Peter Michael, managing director of Michaels, a 96-year-old photography retailer in Melbourne, we asked if he’d noticed any major smartphone incursion.

“It seems to be taking a long time for smartphones to take over — some thought it would be a lot quicker,” he said.

Michael recalls how in 2006 his son returned from a trip to Tasmania. Despite being heir to the Michaels family business, he had decided to use his old-fashioned ‘dumbphone’ camera to take photos.

“He had taken a shot on a 2MP phone, and he had it printed, and he said ‘Dad, do you realise how good these phones are?’” remembers Michael. “But they seem to have taken a while to move forward.

“It seems to be that they’ll take the bottom end of the market — they’ll obviously get better.”

When asked how his famous store on Elizabeth Street is going during what many retailers describe as the toughest they’ve seen it, Michael is very positive and optimistic.

“We’re not experiencing that [tough times]. When people are short of sales, all they seem to do is cut price, so that makes it difficult, but generally the consumer demand is there, the shop is busy, the phones ring and there’s a huge amount of consumer interest.

“Our role is to do what we’ve always done: give service.”

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