Printing Mobile Phone Photos: The New Frontier

A TUPdate from MetaFacts by Dan Ness, Principal Analyst

When you take a photo with your mobile phone’s digital camera, you can share it by waving the tiny screen at other people, or incur the expense of sending it over the network. Or you can do the sensible thing and print it out—but, worldwide, only one person in eight actually does that.Or so it seems from a recent MetaFacts Technology User Profile 2009 Global Insights Edition survey of 30,889 online PC-using adults in 16 countries. While nearly two-thirds of the respondents (64 percent) did take pictures with their mobile phones, only 12 percent ever printed out pictures from their mobile phones.

The rate, however, varied from country to country, with people in emerging nations proving to be far more likely to immortalize their phone snapshots on paper. The rate peaked at 24 percent among India’s Upper Urbanites, followed by 23 percent of China’s Urbanites, 20 percent in Mexico, and 17 percent in Russia. The rate bottomed at 6 percent in South Korea and 7 percent in Japan, rising to 8 percent in Holland and the U.S.

Yet, 64 percent of the global respondents did use their mobile phones to take pictures, implying that there are a lot of unprinted pictures out there.

Leading the charge of the cell phone paparazzi were the Saudi Arabians, 86 percent of whom used their phones for taking photos. They were followed at a distance by 77 percent of Mexican respondents, and 76 percent of South Korean and Indian respondents. Those avoiding mobile phone photography were led by the Dutch (55 percent), the Americans (56 percent) and the Germans (57 percent.)

Interestingly, the rate of mobile phone picture printing was roughly an inverse to the national rate of digital camera ownership—although, at 78 percent, most respondents did use a digital camera. For instance, India, which ranked #1 in the rate of mobile phone picture printing, ranked next to last (#15) in terms of digital camera use. China ranked #2 in cell phone picture printing, but #12 in digital camera use. Mexico ranked #3 in cell phone picture printing and #14 in terms of digital camera use.

But it did not work in the other direction—South Korea was dead last (#16) in cell phone picture printing, but a middling #10 in digital camera use.

While we’re talking about digital photography hardcopy, 20 percent of global respondents said they had used kiosks to print their pictures, with those in Mexico leading the way at 31 percent. Retail printing centers were used by a similar 19 percent, and they were most popular in Brazil, where 36 percent used them.

Overall, pictures were more likely to be taken by mobile phones than by digital cameras in India, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia, and the rate was neck-and-neck in Russia. Elsewhere, digital cameras still ruled the pixels.

As for film cameras, globally only 27 percent of the respondents still used them, the leaders being the Indians at 42 percent. At the other extreme, only 18 percent still admitted having them in Japan.

Mobile phone and smartphone photo printing may move from a niche into an everyday activity. Hewlett Packard, who dominates the world in PC printing, has recently released a way to make it easier to print mobile phone images. Their HP iPrint Photo app which makes it easy to quickly print a 4”x6” or 10cm x 15cm image on almost any HP printer through a wireless connection, For now, the app only works on Apple iPhones or iPod touch.

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The results in this TUPdate are drawn from the MetaFacts Technology User Profile Survey. Results specific to this topic can be obtained through a customized report and analysis. Also, access The MetaFacts Technology User Profile Overview Edition Report by contacting MetaFacts, which covers the broader range of key trends. View findings in 25 pages of executive summary analysis, 200+ pages of charts and graphs, all supported by 95+ pages of detailed tables. The complete, 300+ page report is delivered to you electronically. This edition is for the U.S. based on the 2010 wave of Technology User Profile gathered among a scrupulously selected set of representative respondents, surveyed both online and offline.

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About MetaFacts

MetaFacts, Inc. is a market research firm focusing exclusively on the technology industries. MetaFacts’ Technology User Profile (TUP) survey is the longest-running, large-scale comprehensive study of its kind, conducted continuously since 1983, the year before Apple released the Apple Macintosh. The detailed results are a primary market sizing and segmentation resource for leading companies providing consumer-oriented technology products and services, such as PCs, printers, software applications, peripherals, consumer electronics, mobile computing, and related services and products. TUP analyzes key trends and the data-rich source can be dived into more deeply for custom analysis. For more information about the syndicated research service, analysis tools, publications and datasets, contact MetaFacts at 1-760-635-4300.

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