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Standardize Batteries for Digital Cameras

The Hikari 368 Super Express is a very fast bullet train on the Japan Rail. It can travel from Shin-Osaka to Tokyo in three hours. The scenery along the railway is a mix between city urban settings and rural agraculture settings. In either case, it is delightful to see the beautiful land fly by. On a clear day, you can see mount Fuji.

During this travel time, I planned to shoot some photos with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX1 digital camera. But when I turned on the camera, it didn't power-up. I, then, remembered that I had left the battery charging on the wall. That really upsetted me, because I won't be able to get any high-resolution photos until I get back to the suburb of Osaka. The frustration made me think of the non-standard digital camera battery problem.

Over the years, manufacturers has been producing smaller and smaller digital cameras. Thus, digital camera batteries keeps getting smaller, too. But with the explosion of super thin digital cameras on the market now, it is time to standardize digital camera batteries much like what the AA, the CR123, and the CR2 batteries has done for the film cameras. You can replenish a film camera using any of these standard battery types quite easily at convenience stores.

Analyzing the problem caused me to think of some plausable solutions. So I present the solutions and my analysis below.

Solution 1: Manufacturers can produce disposable version of digital camera batteries to be sold in convenience stores. This solution is difficult to implement because there are so many different digital camera battery types on the market. It may not be cost effective for manufacturers to tool up to make disposal batteries. Stores will not be able to carry all the different batteries that exist.

Solution 2: Manufacturer can produce pre-charged digital camera batteries. Stores can sell them to consumers. The beauty of this solution is that manufacturers do not have to retool. However, it is difficult for the store to carry all the different batteries that exist. And recharable batteries loses charge over time.

Solution 3: Standardize digital camera batteries to just one, two, or three formats. Manufacturers can collabrate to produce only a few battery formats. Today they have already standardized on 3.7v and 7.4v NiMH batteries with three or four electrical contacts. The only difference is the physical shape of the batteries. If manufacturers can standardize on one shape, then convenience can easily carry the batteries for travelling consumers. Manufacturer can offer either disposable or pre-charged batteries to the consumer. The batteries may provide additional revenue to the producer, because it removes the fear of buying additonal propriety batteries that becomes obsolete. Convenience stores can easily carry these stardard varieties.

Overall, I believe the third solution provides the best compromise between the manufacturer tooling cost, the ability to carry the products at local stores, and the highest desire to purchase by consumers. If solution 3 could be implemented, the life of us photographers will reach a new enlightenment.

Chieh Cheng
Mon, 15 Sep 2008 16:41:38 +0000

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