I've had a camera-phone (or phone-camera, depending on your religion) for about a year now. It's long since passed having novelty value for me, and I find myself using it regularly even now. I even send MMS messages occasionally: mainly to my girlfriend, though occasionally to one or two other people who I'm fairly sure can receive them OK. A couple of weeks ago I was chuffed and amazed to receive an MMS from Disneyland, Florida; I still can't work out quite how it got here.
When Dom and Eva came over a week or so back, they brought digital cameras with them - and being quite into their photography, did an awful lot of snapping away. The result: some really high-quality photos of our cats, one of which now graces my desktop.
And there I sat, quietly bemoaning the shoddy quality of my 640x480 pixel Nokia toy, which seems to blur half the pictures it takes, has no flash, no zoom, and produces nothing remotely professional in output. I was thinking about this over the weekend, wondering when decent quality cameras would turn up on phones, when it struck me: it doesn't matter.
I'm not saying that cameras in phones won't become higher in quality or more full-featured: as this stuff gets cheaper to manufacture, they might as well get better - the difference in cost between a poor camera and an average one will become negligible.
But think about the audience for photos taken on cameraphones; right now, they're still used a lot by tech-savvy folks like myself, people who write online journals, and so on: folks who want to look at their photos on a PC or laptop. This is changing (more and more people I know are getting them), but there's still a tendency towards the gadget-lover amongst cameraphone owners, I'd say.
Long-term, this won't be the case. Long-term, pictures taken on cameraphones will be viewed, principally, on other phones. And this is my conclusion: the important thing is that images produced by phones look good on other phones, not that they produce high quality media.
It's just like text messaging: just as a phone keypad makes text entry difficult but possible, and the results are poor grammatically but worth sending nonetheless, so an embedded camera which takes poor quality photos is still worthwhile and acceptable if these photos are only being viewed on a tiny screen.
Apologies if this is obvious. I'd never considered it before.