Eye-Fi Mobi Appeals to Amateurs With Simplified Memory Card: Jaroslovsky

Photographer: David Caudery/Digital Camera magazine via Getty Images

A Canon EOS 550D D-SLR camera with Eye-Fi Pro X2 8GB Wireless SD Card, Close

A Canon EOS 550D D-SLR camera with Eye-Fi Pro X2 8GB Wireless SD Card,

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Photographer: David Caudery/Digital Camera magazine via Getty Images

A Canon EOS 550D D-SLR camera with Eye-Fi Pro X2 8GB Wireless SD Card,

Many photographers love the Eye-Fi. The memory card can wirelessly upload photos from your camera to your online photo service using the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot, or directly to a computer or mobile device.

It's neat technology but with a couple drawbacks. It's much more expensive than a standard, dumb SD card. And with the advent of always-connected phones and tablets, it's less important to be able to connect a camera itself to the cloud; all that casual photographers really need is the ability to get photos onto the mobile device.

Eye-Fi's answer is the new Mobi, a cheaper version that seeks to leverage your phone or tablet instead of competing against it. The Eye-Fi Mobi costs $50 for an eight-gigabyte card or $80 for 16 gigabytes, about $20 less than the company's fuller-featured models.

What's missing from the Mobi is the ability to connect directly to a Wi-Fi network. Instead, users can access the card's contents through free apps for iOS and Android. The idea is that the phone or tablet can do the heavy lifting for connectivity, and provide a bigger and better display for viewing and editing. It's a smart approach, one that brings down the card's price while focusing just on the functionality that most people really need.

Serious photographers will still gravitate towards the company's more expensive Pro X2 card. That model can, among other things, wirelessly transfer high-end RAW files to a PC or Mac for heavy-duty editing.

Of course, the Mobi doesn't address the technology's long-term problem: Camera phones are good enough for many people. (Sales of point-and-shoot cameras on Black Friday last year fell 36 percent from 2011, according to research firm NPD Group.) As smartphone cameras get better, fewer people are buying separate point-and-shoots and therefore don't need memory cards, no matter how cheap they get.

(Rich Jaroslovsky is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)

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