Nikon announces Android-powered Coolpix S800c camera; interest in webOS makes sense now
Ten months ago, a report surfaced that HP was "actively meeting with a number of interested buyers" for their webOS hardware - two months prior HP had cancelled webOS hardware development and was busy exploring their opportunities for the software and asking for too much money. Among the rumored potential buyers was an oddball: Nikon. Yes, the camera guys.
It didn't make much sense at the time, but today we're finally getting the answer as to what Nikon was getting at with their interest in webOS: a smart camera. Sure, cameras have been getting smarter and smarter over the years and picking up more advanced features, but they've always been grounded in photography. The newly-announced Nikon Coolpix S800c kicks this up several notches for the point-and-shoot game by including Android 2.3 and Wi-Fi and GPS.
The camera+smart device combo has a 16 megapixel sensor with 10x optical zoom, something that no smartphone can lay claim to. The 3.5-inch OLED screen isn't huge, but it's a decent size for a point-and-shoot camera. From the front the S800c looks like a straight up camera, but the back is very much Android in look.
So we have to wonder this would have looked like had HP and Nikon been willing to agree on a purchase price or licensing structure for webOS. Imaging has never been a strong suit for webOS, though for that matter it's only recently been a strength for Android - and that was only with the assistance of third party manufacturers. A webOS-powered Nikon smartphone would have needed some tender-loving-imaging from Nikon to enhance its imaging capabilities, and would have lacked the numerous camera-related apps to which Android's Google Play app store provides access. Really, what's a smart camera without access to the most popular photo sharing services?
While owning webOS would have allowed Nikon better integration opportunities than what they’ll get with hacking their camera software onto Android, the software ecosystem that Android provides (for free, nonetheless, thanks to Android's past, present, and future open source status) is a strong draw in opposition to the much smaller ecosystem and user base of a Nikon-only webOS. Really, we'd just have been happy to have a smart device with real optical zoom.