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Worst of the Week: Camera tricks

Hello! And welcome to our Friday column, Worst of the Week. There’s a lot of nutty stuff that goes on in this industry, so this column is a chance for us at to rant and rave about whatever rubs us the wrong way. We hope you enjoy it!

And without further ado:

For a couple of weeks now I have had a Samsung Galaxy Camera device on my desk eyeballing me with its over-sized lens, a gift from Samsung in order to conduct a product review. Now, traditionally I have steered clear of handling device reviews for several reasons.

First, there are already a million others out there doing such things and I figure there is little I could add to the conversation. Second, I am generally not one that gets overly excited by new technology and the thought of trying to dig into all the ins-and-outs of a mobile device does not appeal to me.

I know many can’t seem to get enough of such interaction, a fact that I am amply reminded of every time I attend an event where a new gadget is introduced. But, for reasons that I have deduced down to what I term “old-man syndrome,” I am just not that enamored with the latest and greatest and seem to think I have better things to do with my time. (Like yelling at the neighborhood kids to “Get off my lawn! Damn kids!”)

This brings me back to the Galaxy Camera. Now, this device has already been on the market for a couple of months and has been reviewed by thousands of people way more qualified to talk about its finer points than myself. But, when offered the chance to receive a demo version from Samsung, something inside of me said it was something I could not refuse.

From reading the specification sheet on the camera and looking through the various PR photos, I just could not get my head around what exactly this thing was. It looked to be an over-sized point-and-shoot camera, but it also sported more horsepower than just about every other smartphone, LTE connectivity and a larger-than-life screen. I just had to get my hands on one to quell my now overly perplexed mind.

Fast forward to today, where I have now had a couple of weeks to play, grope and fondle with the Galaxy Camera in the flesh, and I have to say that I am more perplexed now than ever. (To the point where I have voluntarily stopped using sharp instruments.)

One part of me screams: “What the hell is this thing and who in their right mind would spend $500 on one!?!”

Another part counters: “This is the best thing since sliced Twinkies and why doesn’t everyone have one!?!”

Rationally, this thing makes no sense. It’s nearly too big to be a portable point-and-shoot camera, while not having enough features to take the place of professional quality devices. The screen is so big that I find myself not being able to really grab a hold of it, which is terrifying as I can only imagine dropping this thing will result in a stunning screen scattered into millions of pieces.

Also, by just using it to take pictures, I always feel that I am not using the device to its full potential. Sort of like driving around in a Ferrari in first gear because I can’t figure out how to shift the damn thing. Sure, I may think I look cool because I am driving a Ferrari, but deep down I realize I look like a tool because I have no idea how to drive a Ferrari.

In an attempt to get past my own issues, I have handed off the camera to various family members in an attempt to get a sane viewpoint on just what the hell this thing is. Most are agog when first handed the camera, even more so when I then tell them everything that it can do. Inevitably, when I then mention that it can do everything except make a phone call, everyone looks at me like they were a dog and I am asking if they want to go for a walk.

Sure, no one actually makes phone calls anymore, but the thought of paying that much money for something that can almost take the place of 14 different electronic devices except for the ability to place a traditional phone call sours the deal. (I also realize that most of my family members are further from sane than I thought.)

One thing I have come to realize about the Galaxy Camera is that if Apple had launched a similar device, dressed up in its signature aluminum casing, put a lowercase “i” in the name and trotted it out on stage somewhere in the Bay Area, there would have been an outpouring of adoration about how Apple was set to save the digital camera market. Fanboys (and girls) would have begun planning their next camping adventure outside of their nearest Apple store and we would now have been inundated with press releases touting the tens of millions of these things that were sold in the first 10 minutes.

But, instead Samsung rolled it out to little fanfare and thus my guess is that most people have no idea this thing even exists. That sort of move tells me that either Samsung completely screwed up the launch of the next “big thing,” or that even Samsung has no idea in hell what this thing really is.

Perhaps, and even scarier, is that Samsung knows what it has, knows the damage it can reap and yet has consciously decided to do nothing with it. Could Samsung be so confident in its abilities that it would launch a potentially life-altering device, yet decide that it does not really need to beat us over the head with that fact?

What the hell Samsung? What are you really up to? And, how can I get this camera to stop eye balling me?

OK, enough of that.
Thanks for checking out this week’s Worst of the Week column. And now for some extras:

–Last week I attempted to quantify the impact Apple’s iPhone continues to have on the mobile space despite what seems to be investor concerns regarding the company’s financial future. That iPhone impact was more precisely explained this week by long-time industry analyst Bill Ho, who noted that the various iPhone models accounted for 65% of smartphone activations from the country’s three largest carriers during the fourth quarter.

The breakdown is pretty impressive, as 84% of AT&T Mobility’s smartphone activations were an iPhone; 63% at Verizon Wireless; and a mere 36% at Sprint Nextel.

I know this is but one market in what is a global ecosystem, but dang if those are not some impressive numbers.

–Wireless industry trade association CTIA this week announced the keynote lineup for its upcoming event in Las Vegas May 21-23. Speakers include a good helping of international names like Telefonica COO José María Álvarez-Pallete López and Deutsche Telekom Chief Product and Innovation Officer Thomas Kiessling, as well as Walmart’s global head of mobile Gibu Thomas. The event will also host a “Power Women in Tech Roundtable” moderated by U.S. Cellular CEO Mary Dillon. So far, so good.

However, as is the want of CTIA, the third-day keynote is again a bit of a head scratcher. This year CTIA has Ashton Kutcher scheduled to provide his insight into … the wireless space? CTIA notes that Kutcher is a “passionate champion of new and emerging technologies, award-winning actor and technology investor. Kutcher has been on the bleeding edge of digital social media from its earliest days. His race with CNN to be the first to one million Twitter followers became a worldwide news story and cemented Ashton’s status as a new media superstar. His unparalleled relationships with the tech industry’s best and brightest leaders keep his VC firm Katalyst far ahead of this fast-moving frontier. Kutcher also stars as Steve Jobs in the upcoming film ‘jOBS,’ slated to hit theaters April 19.”

Hard to argue with a resume like that. Oh yeah, he is also this guy:

Of course, the fact that any of these claims are true, and I have my suspicions about the Twitter race with CNN being a “worldwide news story,” is not something any of us should be proud of. We allowed whatever Kutcher can claim to happen. That’s all on us, and we should all be made to attend this keynote address for punishment.

I welcome your comments. Please send me an email at [email protected].

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