CES: Polaroid's new camera blurs the line between devices


Is it a camera? Is it a smartphone? Or maybe a mini-tablet?

Does it really matter?

The answer seems to be “no,” or at least that’s Polaroid’s take on the whole issue of smart devices – those portable gadgets powered by Android, iOS, BlackBerry OS etc.

Leveraging their significant history in the photographic industry, Polaroid is flipping the traditional model of phones-with-ever-increasing-features on its head and is showing its first attempt at a camera-with-ever-increasing-features.

Their SC1630 Smart Camera is an intriguing device. Designed as a traditional digital point-and-shoot device with a decent if not spectacular lens, it also boasts the full compliment of features you’d expect from an Android-based smartphone. Even 3G connectivity.

Assuming you like this idea and think it has a place in the rapidly expanding connected-device ecosystem, the next question is: How much should such a gadget cost and given its cellular data (and maybe voice!) capabilities, who will sell it?

Conventional wisdom would say that the usual big-box electronics retailers are the Sc1630’s natural habitat. But if you want to take advantage of the 3G connection, you’re going to need a SIM card from your preferred carrier. Sounds fine so far – after all this is exactly the retail model preferred by Apple for its 3G-capable iPads.

But as we all know, Apple iPads are never subsidized by carriers, unlike their smaller iPhone cousins. Presumably that’s because they don’t do voice.

So what if the Polaroid SC1630 *could* do voice? If that happened, it might just become the first camera to be sold by a mobility carrier, either unlocked for a full price or locked and under contract for what could be as little as $0.

My guess is that if the SC1630 has a chance to make it in the wild, it’s going to need a combination of slick marketing and a price point that makes it a no-brainer for all those folks out there who are addicted to their smartphone’s camera, want to take better photos, and still want just one device to pocket at the end of the day.

So Sync readers: Are you that consumer?