Thursday, October 9, 2008

MSNBC article looks at impact of camera phones on digital camera market

In light of recent new technologies incorporated into camera phones and multimedia devices, a recent MSNBC article asks: "Do you even have to buy a digital camera anymore?" In most cases, the answer is still "yes," surmises the article. Digital cameras have been incorporated into several types like phones digital voice recorders and media players. And while an 8-megapixel phone sounds appealing, it doesn't necessarily have same qualities as an 8-megapixel point-and-shoot digital camera.

"Can you take a photo with a camera phone that takes as good a picture as a digital camera? That's starting to be the case if you limit yourself to certain really high-end camera phones," said Avi Greengart, Current Analysis research director for mobile devices, in the article. "But in most cases, a $129 Canon or Kodak will take much better digital photos."

Additionally, there's a lot involved beyond megapixels in a point-and-shoot digital camera that enables it to take high-quality photos, said Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis for The NPD Group market research firm, in the article. "There's the size of the sensor, the strength of the flash, features such as image stabilization and smile detection that camera makers are adding to their products."

Greengart added that most "camera phones still generally are trying to be small enough to be used in a phone, so they end up not using a very large image sensor chip, and in some cases, use a plastic lens, so the whole optical path isn't all that great."

Nokia's N95, a 5-megapixel camera phone that has been a hit in Europe and Asia, with more than 10 million sold, but it doesn't have a flash. While the N95 is available in the United States for around $500, no wireless carrier offers it, says MSNBC. Many U.S. carriers are not eager to bring higher-quality phone cameras to their lineup if there aren't other phone features that can bring extra revenue to the carriers, Greengart said. This has stunted high-end camera phone growth in the United States.

[Source: PMA Newsline]
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