Without a doubt, the proliferation of cell phone cameras (called camera-tsuki keitai denwa) was the year 2002′s top news for photography in Japan. They were everywhere this year. It sort of reminded me of the Print Club boom that swept Japan several years ago.
According to J-Phone, 6 million camera cell phones for their Sha-Mail service have been sold since June 2001 when it was first introduced. (“Sha” is an abbreviation for the word “Shashin” which means photograph.) Total domestic sales of cell phone cameras in fiscal 2002 is expected to exceed 20 million units (compared to 6 million in fiscal 2001). And over half of all cell phones sold had a built-in digital camera.
In fiscal 2003, a whopping 30 million cell phone cameras are expected to be sold in Japan. This is about one-third the number of single-use (or disposable) cameras sold in Japan. I’m sure that the cell phone camera will greatly affect sales of single-use (or disposable) cameras. I bet they will start making cell phone cameras that can be connected directly to a printer to print images. The cell phone may also become an electronic wallet that you can use to pay for train tickets and vending machine soft drinks. Times are sure changing. I mean just a few years ago, the idea of using a cell phone to take pictures was totally unimaginable. What next?