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12/9/2004
05:32 PM
John Dickinson
John Dickinson
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What's The Most Important Camera Phone Feature? Owning One!

More pixels or better lenses? Who cares? The important thing is that you actually own and use a camera phone.

All this talk between Mike Elgan and David Haskin over camera-equipped cell phones misses the most important point: These neat little products are useful personal tools, and outstanding business tools. Whether they have more pixels or fewer, better lenses or worse, and how much cell phone providers charge you to use them are all less important than why you should get one and how you can use it.

I first got involved with them when my somewhat technophobic wife wanted one to support her interior design business. She wanted to be able to take a quick snapshot of a piece of furniture or an architectural artifact and e-mail it to her client. They are easy enough to use that this technique works just fine, and the LG VX6000 that I bought for her is so good as a phone, that when it came time to upgrade I bought one for myself.

So, when our son expressed interest in a house advertised for sale near to where we were visiting friends, we were able to drive to it, take a picture of it, send it to them, and have a conversation about how much to offer, all without breaking a sweat. And by the way, he bought the house.

I was in a minor car accident recently. The pictures I took with my camera phone won me an insurance settlement worth over $2,000.

The manager of a local hardware store recounted that a customer who was not sure just which toilet fixture he needed called his wife and asked her to use her camera phone to take a picture of it and send it to his camera phone. The correct part was identified and went home with the now-happy customer.

Sure, the lenses on today's units are not great, and I actually don't agree with Mike or Dave about pixel density, although I do agree that camera phones are expensive to use. But that's all because the ramp of these cameras is mirroring the recent history of regular digital cameras -- and for that matter of technology in general.

Technology life cycles always start out with poor or mediocre technology that is expensive, and then ramp up to better, cheaper, faster technology. Rather than ragging on about the quality of today's camera phone technology and the cost of using it, let's all cheer the hardware, software and service, providers on to better and less expensive products, and push them towards getting there as quickly as possible!

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