Eye-Fi announced Wednesday that it has raised $20 million in Round D funding largely thanks to Japanese cellular operator NTT DOCOMO. While Eye-Fi receiving big stacks of money isn't interesting, the source of that money is, because the partnership with NTT DOCOMO marks the first time Eye-Fi cards will be activated via mobile devices without requiring a computer for activation. Anything that simplifies wireless image transfers is a plus for Eye-Fi, and the company will see a brand boost from another new partner: SanDisk.
Future Eye-Fi cards will integrate SanDisk's memory for storage. SanDisk's popular, so that's great for Eye-Fi, but will either of these new deals be enough to keep Eye-Fi relevant long-term?
As we've recently written, point-and-shoot cameras with built-in Wi-Fi are a threat to the Eye-Fi. In its current form, Eye-Fi would have no reason to exist if cameras all grew new Wi-Fi chips overnight. Of course, that's not going to happen, and DSLRs aren't yet following point-and-shoots down the path towards integrated Wi-Fi. But Eye-Fi would be smart to plan as if that's an inevitable outcome.
If and when wireless support in cameras gets better than it is right now, Eye-Fi will see its market dry up. Luckily for them current Wi-Fi camera solutions need work. Smartphones, however, are getting better and better all the time. Clock's ticking until cameras catch up.