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Tech Review: Socialmatic

In the world of web design it’s no secret that photography remains a hugely powerful tool. The impact of photography continues to grow, and additionally many businesses are now beginning to harness the power of video to help shape the feel and functionality of their website design.

A huge part of this phenomenon is the explosive growth of social media, particularly with regard to photography. Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram for around $1billion certainly raised a few eyebrows, but reports at the end of 2012 were suggesting that Instagram had seen a 1100% increase in its number of active users, with nearly 11 million people uploading photos each day.

Shown in visual form, Instagram’s impressive growth in user numbers looks like this:

The movement towards social media as a primary photo-sharing vehicle has accompanied a huge decline in traditional photographic methods and sales. The recent closure of Jessops stored after the company entered administration is testament to this shift. Traditional film cameras might retain a strong loyal following but the general trend has been away from prints…

That is, until now.

A new company called Socialmatic are looking to marry the convenience of digital cameras, the popularity of retro-style filters and the enduring appeal of traditional Polaroid prints.

Socialmatic’s new device, likely to be launched in early 2014, will boast the Polaroid branding on its new digital camera. It has an on-board Zink printer, giving users the opportunity to instantly print their photos. The product will boast all the nostalgic appeal of traditional Polaroid devices, whilst including Bluetooth & WiFi connections and a touchscreen to make sharing photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as quick and easy as ever.

This is clearly an innovative idea which is thoroughly birthed in the 21st century – Socialmatic itself was funded through an Indigogo crowd-funding project. We also like the fact that the camera retains so much of the traditional appeal of Polaroid’s classic products. It will be interesting to see whether sales are limited to those who enjoyed printing their own photos in the past, or whether today’s Instagram generation will be willing to splash out and get hold of one of these devices.

We suspect that if our obsession with retro filters continues for much longer then some of the electrical giants might start rolling our filters on their SLRs and compact cameras. Ten years ago we were kept entertained by a couple of sepia and black & white options, but clearly times have changed and retro is well and truly in vogue.

What is your reaction to Socialmatic? Could you be tempted to purchase one of these cameras, or is it simply a gimmick that is overshadowed by the broader appeal of your smartphone? Are you a Polaroid fan, or is it about time we moved on from expensive and limited prints?

Either way, social media continues to have a huge impact on the way that we take and share photographs. To what extent this will shape the cameras that we use remains to be seen…