Is the iPhone destroying standalone cameras or is it a gateway drug?

The most popular camera on Flickr is the iPhone 5. The 2nd most popular camera is the iPhone4S.

Wanna guess what the 3rd most popular camera?

Yep, iPhone 4.

The iPhone camera is truly stunning. Folks are blowing my mind on Tumblr and Instagram with their eye, talent, creative energy and this camera. Check out these iPhone photographs by Michael O’Neal.

I’ve met Michael. He’s a super talented (and super friendly). We’ve met for a sunset photowalk and a sunrise photowalk in San Francisco. He’s taught me so many things about making photographs with an iPhone (and post processing with mobile apps like snapseed) and he turned me on to AvgCamPro which is a sick app.

I was dabbling with photography for years but the iPhone 4 led me to more serious photography. I wanted to learn as much as possible about workflow in Adobe Lightroom. I couldn’t believe what you could do with a few sliders like shadow, highlight, contrast, tones and clarity.

That led me to buy a camera that could shoot in RAW and allowed me to manually override the shutter speed and aperture (fuji x100). I could take long exposures. I could blur backgrounds. I could shoot into the sun. Then two years ago I picked up a rangefinder that changed my life. I’m now chasing light.

Interesting the 4th most popular is the Canon 5d markii. That is a serious camera. It sports a full frame sensor and Canon sells some magical glass. I’ve had a few dreams about their 50mm f/1.2.

There are so many wonderful cameras coming out these days. People ask me all the time what camera they should buy. It really comes down to budget and what type of photography interests you and form factor. The reality is you can’t really go wrong with many of them. You just need to put in the time and commit.

And I’m seeing so many people do just that. They are double fisting. iPhone in one hand and a more “serious camera" for different photography experiences.

This fall Apple will ship a new iPhone. Probably called the iPhone5S. My guess is an improved camera amongst other things. That phone will take over the title for most popular camera on Flickr in no time.

But will it kill standalone cameras or serve as a gateway drug for more people who want to push their photography interest farther along.

It feels like the latter and that is pretty cool.

(ps here is the flickr page ranking cameras by popularity)

The trouble with Microsoft

(Warning: rambling post ahead. clearly my writing skills are quite rusty as my photography has taken over this blog)

Look, I am uncomfortable kicking a company when it’s down but I gotta take a moment and talk about Microsoft. It’s because I like the company and I’m friends with many folks that work there. 

Bill Gates needs to come back. 

I’ve said this before and every one tells me Billg is happy running his foundation. I don’t blame him for being inspired by the work he’s doing (it’s fantastic) but we are talking about one of the smartest and most competitive founders the world has ever seen. Ever.

He can’t be happy watching his company fade away to irrelevance over the years. 

The Surface isn’t a failure because it was late. I submit if the iPad never existed the Surface would have failed anyway.

It’s just a poor product. 

I say that with a heavy heart because I’m quite sure a number of talented engineers worked on it tirelessly. 

But I’m equally convinced they were forced into some decisions about Windows and Office (and other MSFT technologies and PC behavior) which were unnatural to people trying to think different and make something new happen. 

The Surface isn’t the only fail. Remember Zune. Windows Mobile. Bing. Sharepoint. Outlook on the Mac, hell, office on the Mac. Moving on past the consumer space, we see many/most portfolio companies are increasingly using Amazon infrastructure. This was MSFT’s birthright. 

There is a lesson from Apple during it’s dark days in the 90’s. 

Apple didn’t lose the desktop war to Microsoft because of an “open vs closed” approach. Windows beat Apple (in marketshare) in the 90’s because Apple’s OS wasn’t a great product in those days. Remember System 7? Remember the browser choices we had in those days on the Mac? Internet Explorer and Netscape. Oy. 

At our firm we moved entirely off of Microsoft technology several years ago and haven’t looked back. My current Mac at the office doesn’t have a single MSFT product on it (unless you include Skype). Same thing at home. 

I can’t tell you the last time I’ve seen a founder come see us at Spark with a Windows machine. I haven’t seen a Windows phone in the wild in NYC, Boston or SF except in the hands of current Microsoft employees. Former MS execs that I interact with have switched to iPhone or Android. 

It’s not right. And if I was the founder I would be pissed off. 

Microsoft needs to start building amazing products. The current leadership isn’t getting it done. 

I was trying to think of a phrase to convey how extreme your attention to users should be, and I realized Steve Jobs had already done it: insanely great. Steve wasn’t just using “insanely” as a synonym for “very.” He meant it more literally—that one should focus on quality of execution to a degree that in everyday life would be considered pathological.