QuickTake, Take 2

QuickTake, Take 2

QuickTake’s strange design may have turned off some potential users.


Photographers dig Macs, so why doesn’t Apple sell a camera of its own? Well, it did. But you had to be fast if you wanted a QuickTake. Apple sold its own digital-camera brand between 1994 and 1997, axing it as part of the product genocide that occurred when Steve Jobs returned to the company’s helm. While they lasted, those digital cameras recorded a handful of pictures at a then-impressive 640x480 pixels.


But with fans always ready to buy “one more thing,” is it time for Apple to redefine the camera experience? The company didn’t offer any comment to our inquiry, so we asked Apple industry veterans.


“I’d be surprised if Apple got into the digital camera business, outside of the iPhone’s camera and built-in iSights,” Leander Kahney, author of Inside Steve’s Brain (see interview), noted in an email. He added, “It’s a business better left to the experts like Canon and Nikon.”


Dan Knight, creator of Low End Mac (www.lowendmac.com) also thinks that Apple should continue to stay away from digital cameras because the company can’t claim that niche. He said via email, “Apple has nothing innovative to bring to the table. The Apple II, Lisa, Macintosh, and Newton were all innovative. The feature set and interface on the iPod made it innovative, [and] the iPhone embodies innovation. . . . [Apple] has nothing to gain and much to lose if it tries to reenter the [camera] field.”




+ Add a Comment


* Add HDR, high dynamic range imaging, onboard the camera. If you ain't seen it, check out Hydra or Photomatix. HDR makes great postcard photographers out of anybody. Can you say "photography for the rest of us"?

* Let me HDR my shots immediately while in the field. When I bracket a shot, make it happen automatically. Let me see it on a big bright screen.

* Put multitouch on it, so I can blow up the shot and see if I caught the spinach in Aunt Gertie's teeth. So what if it means building in OSX; so does creating the Touch.

* Let me mail my photos directly from the camera with WIFI.

* Add Ive's design touch, a great lens, image stabilization, burst mode, no shutter lag, a 1.6 sensor, and an uncompressed file setting. Sell it for under $750 list, $650 street, and send me the invoice.

Can you say unique selling proposition?



Consumer level point-and-click cameras will disappear as cell phone cameras improve and quality.

An apple digital camera? Doubtful. But a vastly-improved camera on the iPhone with good image stabilization, high picture resolution, good zoom and A FLASH?

I'd say very likely.


Jason Whong

Let's pretend for a second that I'm Apple. I'm already going for the high-end imaging market with my SWOP-certified Apple Cinema Displays connected to Mac Pros.

For the video and film market I am going after the high end, so I bought Final Cut from Macromedia and made it Final Cut Pro, and priced it cheaply so that I could give Avid a run for their money, and also sell more hardware since FCP is Mac-only. Good strategy. And then I bought lots of tools to go along with it and named them Final Cut Studio. Now I have a respectable 20-25% of the market after a few years, and Avid is running scared.

For amateur videomaking, I have iMovie. It comes with every Mac. I should have probably named the last version "iMontage" because it is too hard to actually make a movie with it now. That's because I'd rather the cheap movie makers buy Final Cut Express. Which they will.

And Mac sales are booming. I'm doing well enough in the video market without making a portable video camera.

Let's look at how I am doing in photography: Photoshop runs on Macintosh and Windows computers, but people believe it runs better on the Mac. So the Mac is the choice of professional photographers, especially because the displays are already pre-calibrated for SWOP. For consumers, I have iPhoto, which is pretty darn cool.

But people are rumbling about digital still cameras, so let's think about this for a minute:

Which market will I go after?

The pro market: People who already shoot Canon or Nikon, or maybe Sony or Olympus or Hasselblad or Leica, all of which have lenses that won't work with each other's cameras.

If I make a camera for this market, it will need to support one of these lens mounts (probably Canon or Nikon if I want to get the most pros to buy an Apple camera). Otherwise, existing pros who have a lot of money invested in optical glass won't want to give that up in order to switch.

There is also the question of whether I can do any better at a DSLR on the first try than companies that have been doing SLRs for half a century. Maybe if I can get the premier-caliber autofocus found on a $4,500 camera to work on a $1,500 camera, that would be a game-changer. But until I have something that revolutionary, this is just too tough of a market to get into.

So, let's look at the consumer market: it's already pretty crowded. Is there anything I can do to make a camera better than the point-and-shoot cameras out there? I can probably make better menus than some. But can I do something that's disruptive and game-changing, without sacrificing on the quality of the camera?

I think so. And if I did it, certain telecom companies would kill me for eating up all their bandwidth.

But, I'm not Apple. :-)



I apologize for the typos...

* Add great image stabilization. We consumers don't carry tripods.



Yes, Apple would need to own the nice. And it can, I think, based on my frustration trying to purchase a great point and shoot.

* Create a small (read "travel") camera. Consumers do not haul DSLRs. And we want video mode.

* Add a big chip and a fast card for great performance and quality, including burst mode and bracketing. Use that new chip company to design it. (:-)

* Add a great lens. Build for using filters and maybe lenses.

* Add iPhoto onboard software for editing, cataloging, and sharing on board. Add software that will generate HDR imaging on the fly. Think Hydra or Photomatix. Remember we consumers just want a great looking shot. We don't care how we get it.

* Add Ive design.

* Price where it needs to. Send me the invoice.



I think apple could do very well in the "point and click" market. More often then not people will pay more to get a pink or green (or some other color) or even twice as much to get something smaller. If apple released an iCam in colors like the nano and shuffle have, I think it would be a hit.



Now, I know I tend to be critical in my comments here. But this article seems to answer a question I've not heard anyone ask...



Apple would only enter a new market if said market lacks innovation, which would give Apple the chance to play their trump card and gain market share simply by having the superior product.

See the iPod - the MP3 players segment in 2001 was only about to take off, with no real stellar product already out there. It's similar with the mobile phone market: while there already was a wealth of different (and ok) products out there, Apple could still position the iPhone, as its ease of use (and elegance and iPod integration etc.) surpassed most everything else in that market.

The digicam market, alas, is saturated. There are a lot of good products, and a few fantastic ones. Companies like Canon and Nikon keep the ball rolling. Nothing to revolutionize there.

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