Only three weeks ago the iPhone was on course to become the most popular camera on Flickr. It had been just below the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi for several weeks but now iPhone usage on Flickr, as measured by Flickr’s own data, has started to fall off dramatically. Just take a look at this graph – I’ve marked where things were when Boris posted Flickr data here on 18th August.

flickr camera usage to september 2009 iPhone usage on Flickr falls dramatically   Whats happening?

So, what’s happening? Most of the cameras listed have fallen off slightly, maybe due to the end of the summer holiday season in the northern hemisphere, but why is the iPhone’s fall so pronounced?

Missing Data? Blame Flickr’s iPhone app

The answer could well be to do with flaws in the data rather than actual usage. A quick test of Flickr’s new official iPhone app (which after initial trouble I can now log into) reveals that it doesn’t upload camera model information. This means that lots of photos taken with iPhones over the past few days simply won’t show up on this graph. With the app (which is free) currently ‘Featured’ in the App Store, that could account for a lot of photos.

Now, the app has only been available since Tuesday. The fall has been occurring for longer than that so there has to be something else at play…

Is the 3GS novelty factor wearing off?

Look at the graph again and you’ll see a huge growth in iPhone usage a short while ago. In a short space of time usage increased significantly. It’s hard to say exactly when it was (Flickr’s graph doesn’t display accurate time measurement) but it’s likely that the significant increase tied in with the launch of the iPhone 3GS.

With the 3GS sporting an improved camera and new video recording capability, it’s likely that usage shot up as new and upgrading iPhone users rushed to show off what their new phone could do. After a couple of months the novelty could simply have worn off.

Maybe the iPhone isn’t destined to be the most popular camera on Flickr after all.

UPDATE: In case you think this just represents a fall in cameraphone use in general – here’s Flickr’s data comparing only cameraphones. All the iPhone’s nearest competitors remain steady.

Screen shot 2009 09 13 at 10.30.38 iPhone usage on Flickr falls dramatically   Whats happening?