Digital photography to me represents both the greatest and least tapped potential of all the digital media formats. People who rip CDs (which, of course started digital, but that’s a pesky detail) into MP3 (or other) formats tend to listen to those files, probably on an iPod. People who have DV cameras create videos that they are either instantly consuming and sharing, or archiving for the distant future (read: to embarrass friends and family members at the right moments). But digital photos tend to be as much a nuisance as a blessing.
On a recent weeklong trip to Mexico I took over 300 pictures. What happens next? Well, now I have lots of pictures that take up lots of space on my hard drive. I throw some of them online (I use Flickr personally), but am faced with the growing backup/archive dilemma (since I don’t currently trust any online service enough). I’ll never delete them, since I don’t want to risk losing a single “memory”, and I’m terrified of a hard drive failure, so I need a backup. I have a networked hard drive (currently a Maxtor Shared Storage Plus, but I’m about to migrate to an Infrant NV+), but frankly that’s still not enough for me because I live in San Francisco and one quick natural disaster and my backup’s gone too. This spirals on from here…
So now I have all these pictures, what the heck am I supposed to do with them? I certainly can’t email them all to anybody, there’s just too many. SO I need to pick a few here and there and share them explicitly. I can print them or make a nice album (with Shutterfly). I can make a t-shirt, hat, thong, or mug (with CafePress). I can buy a relative a Presto-enabled printer, and send prints of my favorite pictures as I take them (full review of Presto coming soon – I think it’s a great concept, and I hope the implementation is as clean as it should be – if you haven’t heard of them, go to presto.com).
These are all good solutions for me sharing with others, but none really address me consuming my own photos on an ongoing basis. I’ve liked the concept of a digital picture frame for years, but only now is the category actually emerging. I noticed on Dave Zatz’ blog today a link to a recent report stating over 1.5MM units were sold in 2006. Personally, I don’t really believe these numbers, it just sounds much too high and there’s a lack of sources from both the retail and manufacturer side. But I do believe that this is a rapidly growing category that is poised for explosive growth. For a glimpse into my “ultimate” digital picture frame, check out my post this week on NETGEAR’s blog.