Brad Malcolm featured on expert panel at AIE Future Imaging Summit — 01.08.13

The AIE Future Imaging Summit session 7 featured a panel of experts, chaired by Paul Worthington. The industry specialists were Brad Malcolm of Athentech, Craig Copley of Corel, Jim Tierney of Digital Anarchy, Vahe Christianian of Lifepics, Oren Boiman of Magisto, and Lori Birtley of Microsoft.

Let’s start with a scary statistic given by Vahe Christianian: He’s counted over 330 photographic apps but only 17 had some way of monetizing through printing. That may be what consumers want but it doesn’t lead to the long-term conservation of either photographs or photographic businesses.

The panel members represent companies that make software for retailers and labs as well as software that is sold or conveyed to the end user, and they agreed on a few points:
Consumers want to make pictures that look professional without effort or specific knowledge, or spending money.
Consumers want better photos without a lot of mess and fuss on the back end.
Pro photographers are (usually) more understanding of the need to work to make their photos better.

People on Android seem to use social media more, iOs users seem to be more interested in emailing photos. Both categories are excited about panoramic photos and HDR.

What features do consumers want that aren’t available yet? Most often the panelists could respond “we’ve been doing that for years.” Reality is that consumers have to learn the capabilities of existing software and apps, but often what they want is not yet available in “a single click.”

Pros, on the other hand, know how to make good basic images. What they want in postproduction is speed.

Instagram helps people “feel like photographers” but it doesn’t make them photographers, said Oren Boiman.

The next challenge is to help consumer get to the next level. It’s too easy to capture, not to do anything more.

Paul Worthington asked, “shouldn’t your software automatically assume you don’t want red eyes, unsharpness, low contrast?” Responders from the audience answered with a resounding “yes,” with only one dissenter. Consumers don’t want to spend time on red eye correction. That’s work, while applying an Instagram filter is play.

On the platform question – mobile v. desktop? Agreement that big computers retain a speed advantage for processing big images and video – mandatory. But you must be able to consume (view) output everywhere, so access via the cloud continues to grow in popularity.

Mobile devices make sense for viewing and capturing, but not much so for manipulation. Still they are the consumer’s platform of choice.

The panel feels a cross-platform app is not possible, but that cameras have to become smarter and more like a phone.

No matter what great photos we have, it doesn’t matter if we can’t find them. Vast quantities of photos pose a problem and we don’t have an answer.

So, the panel raised more questions than they could answer, but suggested directions mobile might be heading.

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