As I was browsing my Twitter feed… the following infographic popped up.  Keeping in mind that infographics are created by marketing people most often, you have to take these facts with a grain of salt…


The ad (I mean infographic) is for a new Windows model of a smartphone. Fortunately, they do provide sources for their claims (see the bottom of this page).

“90% of People Have Only Taken Photos on a camera Phone vs. a Camera”

This report released earlier this year points out that there are 5.2 Billion mobile phones on the planet for a population of 4.3 Billion users (yes, some people have multiple phones).  83% of all phones have cameras. The survey cites that 90% of all people who take pictures have only done so on a camera phone.

I find this ludicrous.  Maybe 90% of people taking pictures today are using smartphones… although I doubt exclusively. But ever!?!

How Bad Is it Really?

A little quick research will show that traditional camera sales are plummeting. According to Businessweek last year:

Global camera sales are expected to fall 4.3 percent this year to 115.2 million units, according to market researcher IHS. Industrywide camera shipments fell 25 percent in August from a year earlier, according to the Camera & Imaging Products Association in Tokyo. 

Global smartphone camera sales are projected at 1.5 Billion for 2014 — https://www.strategyanalytics.com/default.aspx?mod=reportabstractviewer&a0=8888

So yes, I’d say that smartphones are outselling camera 10 to 1… that doesn’t surprise me.  But I don’t believe that 90% of this planet has never touched a traditional camera in their lifetime.

The Future

With camera phones outselling cameras 10 to 1, how long before we start seeing camera manufacturers becoming  apps?  We’ve already seen companies like Tiffen successfully adapt their traditional filters to digital equivalents.  Can modern camera makers make the leap?

Your comments below please.  Is this the future? Or will craft and quality always exist?


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Join the conversation! 19 Comments

  1. What percentage of photos are taken at greater than EV 70mm, may shed some light on the answer as sensors, optical/ digital technology improve.

  2. It could be true…maybe? I just come from Bhutan where everyone has a cell phone but very few have cameras. Our guide was commenting that he and friends had only taken photos with their phones. He wondered why I bothered to carry a large DSLR.

  3. This essay by Kirk Turk of the Visual Science Lab seems pertinent (personally, I don’t agree with much of what he says). http://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/the-graying-of-traditional-photography.html

  4. Nikon and Canon both cut their DSLRs forecasts this week. 2013 could be the first drop in DSLR sales for the first time in a decade.

    So DSLRs may not be immune to the effects phone cameras have had on the low end of the market.

    Meanwhile products like the Nikon Df hardly seems to address this challenge.

    Phone cameras have brought a lot of ideas, like the easy sharing features and automation of aspects like panoramas and HDR.

    Camera makers are making very small steps, like integrating wifi. But they need to open it up to third parties, who will bring more ideas and better apps to control cameras via wifi. Rather than rely on the manufacturers to try to write software.

  5. Percentages tell people what they want to hear. That said, a lot more people take photos than they used to, now that they have a tool to use. The expense of the common camera versus it’s quality compared to a phone camera only exacerbates the problem. Picture details have improved a lot but the quality of the story that goes with it has not improved that much. Pictures are like sound bites, they convey what you want the watcher to understand. With the quality of pictures ‘good enough’ for the average person, we will see an increase in lower quality pictures.It drives the average down.

  6. I think craft and quality will also exist.

  7. I’d also argue that cameras last longer than phones as they are not used daily. I have a camera that is *gasp* 5 years old that I still use at family gatherings, vacations and more. How many have had a smart phone that long?

  8. […] 2. 90% of People Have Only Taken a Photo with a Camera Phone in Their Lifetime? […]

  9. @monikarun “How many have had a smart phone that long?”

    With the rapid turnover of camera phones it allows much faster saturation of the market with a new technology. If your camera was a cheaper point and shoot style 5 years ago it is likely that current phone cameras may produce comparable photos. In this case it is more convenient to carry just a smart phone.

    I always use my DSLR when I have it on me, but I am often surprised at the photos that can come from my phone when I don’t. As a piece of kit for documenting a snapshot in time it is useful to have a phone available, but I shudder at the thought it would one day replace a full fledged DSLR. For the Joe Bloggs user in the street they probably already have.

  10. […] it spread, and then finding out your information is wrong—nothing except when someone else figures it out and posts about it for you. Even the prettiest infographic design can’t cover false facts, so do your […]

  11. […] it spread, and then finding out your information is wrong—nothing except when someone else figures it out and posts about it for you. Even the prettiest infographic design can’t cover false facts, so do your […]

  12. […] R, 2013, 90% of People Have Only Taken a Photo with a Camera Phone in Their Lifetime?, http://photofocus.com/2013/11/10/90-of-people-have-only-taken-a-photo-with-a-camera-phone-in-their-l…, (accessed: 7th March, […]

  13. this is great information. I tried to verify the study mentioned both this in this post and in the infographic on the Windows Phone site, but this URL continues to throw a 503 Server Timed Out error


    I would like to reference this post as well as the study, any idea who actually did the study?

  14. […] our phones are so much more than a distraction. Mobile is how the majority of us now get our news, capture precious memories and stay connected to loved […]

  15. Weren’t film cameras expected to die out decades ago and you can still get them? Honestly I think that the development of a tool doesn’t always connote that the “older” version HAS to become extinct.
    The whole point of technology is basically to improve what has already been made, but that doesn’t necessarily mean something will disappear completely


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About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus and Creative Cloud User as well as an author on Lynda.com. Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.


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