Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mobile - handsets may eat away entry-level digital still camera market

[digitimes] The low-end digital still camera (DSC) market is coming under intensifying competitive pressure from cell phones that are sporting increasingly high-resolution image sensors, according to iSuppli.

The average resolution for handset cameras' CMOS sensors will rise to 5.7 megapixels in 2013, up 171.4% from 2.1 megapixels in 2009. In comparison, DSC average megapixels will rise to 13.9 in 2013, up only 46.3% from 9.5 megapixels in 2009.

"iSuppli believes that handsets may soon begin to cannibalize the low end of the DSC market as they incorporate higher megapixels and flash capabilities," said Pam Tufegdzic, consumer electronics analyst at iSuppli. "This is likely to occur first in Asia and Europe as consumers in these regions seem to be more comfortable with taking pictures using cameraphones. As the number of megapixels in these phones rises and as consumers begin to use phones instead of cameras to take photos, iSuppli believes the quality of some handset cameras will rival low-end point-and-shoot cameras, presenting a competitive threat."

While upping the megapixels in a phone's camera will deliver better-quality images with smoother and less pixelated features, overall image quality actually is determined by a combination of factors, including low apparent levels of noise and strong low-light performance, iSuppli noted.

"Thus, a high-resolution cameraphone may produce poorer image quality than a DSC because it has less sensitivity or poorer dynamic range, resulting in a relatively shallow contrast," Tufegdzic said. "This may discourage some consumers from risking a precious family photo or another memory-keeping moment on a cameraphone."

These deficiencies can be remedied in a cameraphone with the addition of optical zoom, auto focus, an improved flash and more sophisticated image processing electronics. OEMs will be focusing on these areas in order to improve the overall quality of photos in handset cameras, iSuppli indicated. The firm also believes features such as image stabilization, automatic judgment and multiple image capture will migrate from DSCs to camera phone modules during the next few years.

Handsets may eat away entry-level DSC market, says iSuppli

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