Editorial: The rise of the iPhone, more predictions of the future

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/04/07/what-the-iphone-has-done-to-cameras-is-completely-insane/

What’s this, a chart that shows just how many consumers have abandoned digital cameras for smart phones?  Well, whaddaya know.  Next you’ll tell me people will abandon the smart phone and start taking pictures on their tablets!  Oh…

Probably something that hasn’t been thought about at least in terms of the lens sales is that some people are abandoning new autofocus plastic lenses in favor of used manual focus lenses with real glass in them.  Another thing I was thinking was that, just looking at that graph of camera sales, is that we really can see planned obselescence (and digital rot!) at work here, and the implication of so much waste.  Has it really been worth it?  Digital camera makers have had a feeding frenzy for the past 10 years or so, but the fat years are over.

But really, what the graph shows is that camera sales are achieving equilibrium after a spike in sales.  Or will they?  Can selling 5 million cameras keep the digital camera makers afloat after they’ve become accustomed to such large sales volume?  I wonder what the profit margins are like now compared to say, the 1970s and ’80s.  Do they make more money now, or less per camera?

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http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/in-the-future-we-will-photograph-everything-and-look-at-nothing

Actually, streaming music on Spotify is very bad.  Tech companies and online platforms are trying to take the place of record labels without having to do any of the work associated with a traditional label, like advances, tour support, distribution, promotion, plus the royalties paid out are so atrocious that musicians can’t make any money off it.  And the average know-nothing consumer thinks that musicians are being treated better since the digital revolution.  Nope, sorry.

And if musicians that have supported themselves in the past using their art can’t make a living making music anymore, they aren’t likely to continue doing it; the same can be said of the photography world as well.  I know several people who are or used to be professional photographers.  One of them said this about it: “I’ve been replaced by a selfie stick.”  I’m quite aware of the writings of David Brin and his assertion that we are moving away from the culture of the professional toward that of the talented amateur.  I see it all around me, with an ongoing homogenization that plays up to the lowest common denominator.  As much as scarcity creates value, In the future everything will be bland, but there will be more than enough for everyone.  In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes, but I doubt anyone will be remembered.

So besides the writer being mildly aware that this change will be massive and disruptive, as much as it already has been, what new insight is given?  The “purists” will be those using desktop computers and old software to make the shots from digital cameras look more like film (and what does that make me)?  The doom and gloom is in between the lines, but I’m pretty sure the downfall of civilization is held in the idea that digital photographers would consider themselves purists.  So you might as well buy the latest smart phone, pay your monthly subscriptions to gatekeeper companies for continued access to things that used to be owned, and stay in the middle of the flock where it’s safest.  Just don’t bother my Pentax Spotmatic and me.

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One thought on “Editorial: The rise of the iPhone, more predictions of the future

  1. Having worked in radio back in the 90s, I always thought the record labels were pretty bad, too. They took a disproportionate portion of the profit of any band that wasn’t of the stature of a Paul McCartney or a Beyonce. It was an industry ripe for disruption, and it’s happening. We are mid-disruption; the new normal hasn’t emerged yet.

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