Friday, October 7, 2011

A Request of Google

The future of the camera market goes to whichever company has the balls to make a camera as a platform. By platform, I mean a piece of hardware on which users can put any software that they wish. No camera companies are willing to do this because that would necessitate making said camera open to developers. This is not a difficult future to see. But, as anyone in the photographic industry knows, camera companies are all run by trained orangutans, meaning that the future that is so apparent to us may as well be 2001: A Space Odyssey to them.

Basically, no camera company is willing to do this because they have too much invested in the way the old market worked. Namely, you bought a camera and thus bought into that camera company's ecosystem of products. It was very difficult if not impossible to mix-and-match products. Giving developers access to the software of the camera would open this closed industry up immensely. But that intransigence in the face of the future, and the relatively low cost of entry, means that the photographic world is ripe to be turned on its head.

Just as Apple did with the music industry, Google, you can do this to the photography industry. Apple stumbled into this when they opened up the camera on the iPhone to developers. This propelled the iPhone to its current status as the most widely-used camera in the world. No other camera even comes close.

Now you can take it to the next step. You can design and build a camera that pushes things forward just as you are doing with the ongoing Nexus project. It would take very little. Contract a company to build the body, buy off-the-shelf internals, aim it squarely at the enthusiast, and slap Android on it. Call it the Camdroid. Perhaps it's better to think of it as an Android cell phone without the phone part, a giant camera sensor, and where developers have access to almost every element of the hardware

You don't even need to contract an optics company! You can simply use the Micro 4/3 standard, which is at least partially open, and thus take advantage of a large selection of extant lenses. Since your focus is the software, you won't care about selling yet another camera next year and won't be terrified of UPDATING THE CAMERA SOFTWARE like current companies are.

Moreover, a focus on the software means a focus on the experience of photography. A lean, focused pro who wants three settings: WB, aperture, & shutter speed; or a drugged-out club hound who wants every photo that he takes to look like it had just dropped acid. Any setting is possible when software freedom is given to the user.

Please Google. Turn the camera into the platform that it is destined to become. Drag Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Pentax, Leica, and Panasonic in the future. Ideally, kill a few of them in the process. There are too many companies and too few brains in the camera industry. Push this forward. That is what you do, Google. Push this shit forward.

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