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Life is a Journey: Navigating the Digital Imaging Experience

Tyler Suiters
“Life is a journey, not a destination.”

This well-recognized quote is usually attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, the transcendental American poet and thinker from the 19th Century. That could also have been one of Chevy Chase’s lines as Clark W. Griswold, the everyman dad who drove his family across the country in the movie National Lampoon’s Vacation. But regardless of the source, these words can apply to modern day consumers trying to navigate the point-to-print world of digital imaging.

The newest CEA Market Research report, The Optimal Digital Imaging Experience, uses qualitative research to provide a road map of the digital imaging ecosystem, highlighting opportunities for CEA manufacturers, software developers and service providers. The results? Whether someone’s digital journey involves a single step or several, consumers generally want the same thing: photos that capture and share their memories. That might mean saving images on hard drives, sharing photos through social media or printing pictures and placing them in albums. Regardless, consumers’ motivation remains consistent: to share memorable moments with those they love or to take a walk down memory lane.

By taking a deeper dive into the obstacles consumers encounter along their journeys, the research also identifies a number of ways players in the digital imaging field can improve their customers’ experiences.
  • Consumers’ biggest complaint is that digital imaging devices, services and products are not intuitive. Even the simplest point-and-shoot camera may have capabilities consumers don’t realize. The solutions they crave? Clearer instructions and better tutorials for editing software and features on their image capture devices.
  • For many of those surveyed, affordability and accessibility pose problems. While a portion of those surveyed simply aren’t aware of the digital camera technology that’s currently available, even some of those who do understand the technology say they just can’t afford what’s now on the market.
  • The general consensus is that the overall digital imaging process should be easier and less time consuming. They want time-saving steps, like the ability to send photos directly from the phone to a photo printing center or the capability to automatically sync a digital camera with a computer for image uploading.
Now, it’s not as though we need Emerson to produce another insightful quote. (Hey, we don’t even need Griswold.) Consumers produced some of their own quotes that are telling of the current challenges. Among them:
  • On transferring and storing images – “Usually, I email [the photo] to myself [from my phone]. Then I download it, share it to Facebook, and file it on my computer.”
  • On editing images – “I wish the program was a little less studious. The language it uses to describe its functions are a real barrier to entry. What is ‘Rasterize’ for example?”
  • On sharing and distributing images – “It would be great if I could set my phone in a cradle that is connected to a printer, and I could choose and print right on the printer display.”
In short, consumers say that being able to skip a few steps or perform certain tasks over Wi-Fi would enable them to take, edit, print and share photos more often: a great destination for everyone involved in digital imaging. So, where do the solutions lie? What are our industry’s best ideas for how to enhance customers’ digital imaging journeys?
Oh, and one more Vacation reference for you. The movie ends with a collage of traditional snapshots from the Griswold family’s odyssey, from Dodge City, Kan., to Wally World in Southern California. Now, just imagine how many more photos Clark and company would’ve taken if they’d had a digital camera.
The complete report, The Optimal Digital Imaging Experience, is available free to CEA member companies at Non-members may purchase the report at