iPhones to Kill Off Cheaper Digital Cameras?

The iPhone 4 is officially the most popular camera in the Flickr Community, beating out such well known dSLRs as the Nikon D90, Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi, and the Canon EOS REBEL T1i. It's not that big of a surprise, really, given how much easier it is to share and upload iPhone photos to photography and social networking websites than virtually any other camera. But does this have further implications for the camera industry as a whole?

To be certain, dSLRs will probably never be a fully mainstream product, requiring an eight-hundred to a thousand dollar (if not a whole lot more) investment, plus the costs of accessories like additional lenses, camera bags, tripods, etc. They're big and clunky, and not always perfect for a busy person on the go (or a family on vacation), unless that person is dedicated to the craft. Flipping that coin to the other side, no real professional or weekend-enthusiast will be happy without interchangeable lenses and the super high-resolution capabilities that can only be found in a stand-alone dSLR. Either way, it seems safe to say that the upper end of the camera spectrum is thus-far untouchable, at least in terms of an iPhone coup. But what about point-and-shoot cameras, which have been getting slimmer over the years to be more and more "convenient?"

What's more convenient than an iPhone which, presumably, already travels with you everywhere you go? It's your phone, email, calendar, video game console, Internet connection, and yes, phone / video camcorder. And as we've seen on Steve's Facebook page, the iPhone4 does a pretty nice job with taking pictures. Not dSLR good, but matching (or at least approaching) the quality of point-and-shoot digital cameras. Who knows what the next few generations will bring?

So the question we must ask ourselves now is, with things trending the way they are, as the iPhone continues to improve (and maintain its status as the King of all-in-one digital utilities), will the average family -- the parents and grandparents -- even bother to purchase a seperate camera to lug around?

To be clear, we're hypothesizing about the sub-$300 (or maybe it's more sub-$200) market. Is the iPhone, or the smart-phone in general, "the killer app" that will erode such a market? Or will there always be room for those who want "just a camera"? Granted, if you want "just a camera" and you need to share the photos with friends and family, the process will require "just a camera", "just a computer" onto which you can load all the photos, and "just an Internet connection" to then upload them to Facebook, Flickr, et. all.

It'll be interesting to see where this all goes. Feel free to discuss this in the Steve's forums or on Steve's Facebook page (where I'll be posting this article). Also, to Android readers, I know we've covered the iPhone a lot lately and I hear you. I promise we'll cover you guys too, but this just happened to be today's news. I hope you can forgive.

Until our next chat, check out this fun infographic from Geekaphone about the iPhone's rise to the top of the Photo Kingdom:

Is Apple set to become the dominant camera manufacturer?
Sources: Geekaphone & Flickr