It's Going to Be an Eight-Megapixel Christmas

If the rumours I'm hearing are correct, there will be at least six mobile phones featuring eight-megapixel cameras appearing in the second half of 2008.

The relentless megapixel "arms race" shows no sign of letting up and it leaves me wondering, "Why?"

My personal experiences suggest there's still a lot of work to be done in improving the quality of camera phones with five-megapixel sensors.

The jump to eight megapixels just makes this even more challenging. Resolution (pixel count) has little to do with picture quality. Colour and tone are more important, as is the competence of the person taking the picture. A decent lens and compression software help, too. In my opinion, there are several phones with 3.2-megapixel cameras that take far better pictures than some five-megapixel models.

Admittedly, if you have more pixels you can blow the image up to a larger size — but just how many people are going to create billboards from pictures taken on their phones or crop postage-stamp size pictures out of the original image?

So perhaps it's a case of the megapixel myth — consumers want the latest and greatest, and what better way to express this than via a bigger number? We've seen in the naming of phones for years. People assume that product xyz 900 is better than the xyz 600. Harvard professor, Gerry Zaltman supports this view in his extensive research and books.

Compact digital cameras seemed to stabilise at five megapixels for some time and there's a consensus among experts that six megapixels are enough for compact camera sensors. The big difference between mobile phones and digital cameras is that the mobile phone industry has shorter life cycles, larger portfolios and a relentless requirement to differentiate.

With five-megapixel devices such as Samsung's G600 and LG's KC 550 heading toward the high end of prepaid portfolios, and Nokia pushing its five-megapixel 6220 into the mid tier, how can manufacturers differentiate their flagship camera phone products? Easy – bang in an eight megapixel imaging unit and buyers immediately assume it must be better.

Undoubtedly distributors and retailers have encouraged phone manufacturers to go in this direction. Christmas sales are always about having a fresh product on offer. As people don't seem interested in new services like mobile TV, retailers are turning to the number of megapixels (or gigabytes in the case of music phones) to stimulate upgrade sales.

At some point people will realise the futility of ever-increasing megapixels and pay more attention to the quality of the image that camera phones deliver. In the meantime, we'll probably see strong sales of eight-megapixel camera phones when they hits the shops for Christmas and 10-megapixel devices are almost certain to emerge in 2009.

This entry was posted on June 11th, 2008 and is filed under Devices. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Posted By Ben Wood On June 11th, 2008


Comments
(There are no comments yet)
Leave a Comment

Hot News

Team Tweets

CCS Insight
Smartphone makers should look to cater for the ageing population despite limited demand at present http://t.co/i3bpZ2YiwL
Follow CCS Insight
Shaun Collins
RT @CCSInsight: Smartphone makers should look to cater for the ageing population despite limited demand at present http://t.co/i3bpZ2YiwL
Follow Shaun
Ben Wood
Superb @ElReg @AndrewOrlowski Friday piece about @jeffjarvis thin skin http://t.co/gwodBfrR4Q - really? @ProfJeffJarvis
Follow Ben
Martin Garner
RT @benwood: Samsung steps up smart home efforts with acquisition of SmartThings http://t.co/VFnDeiiFdW @tim @martingarner http://t.co/fIWk…
Follow Martin
Geoff Blaber
Sprint abandoning its pursuit of T-Mobile. Unclear how this is any better for consumers in the long term either. Catch22
Follow Geoff
Arnaud Gagneux
RT @CCSInsight: Forecast predicts global tablet sales to stutter in 2014, but replacement to drive new growth http://t.co/djy010SCXP http:/…
Follow Arnaud
Paolo Pescatore
@CAFCofficial should consider @WhatsApp for #CAFCLive real time match updates & videos. Great way to connect & deepen engagement with fans
Follow Paolo
Jasdeep Badyal
Good sales of the HTC One M8 in 2Q14 but still a long road ahead for #HTC http://t.co/dALHk0uM2s @Mobile_Mag
Follow Jasdeep
George Jijiashvili
`@omatetruesmart releasing $129 smartphone companion. Lack of interest in stand-alone smartwatches? #wearables http://t.co/C3LvCtJPUK
Follow George

Recent Blog Posts

Blog Post
A Niche of a Niche Smartphones for Seniors Get Little Traction Demographics ... Read more
Blog Post
Time for Smartphones to Toughen Up? Samsung and Sony Could Make Waterproof Mainstream Call it... Read more
Blog Post
Clash of the TyTNs Windows Phone Gets an HTC Flagship. More Needed. Yesterda... Read more
More blog

Latest Company News

Blog Post
Smartwatches and Smart Bands Dominate Fast-Growing Wearables Market Wearables Shipments to Hit 22 Million in 2014 up 129% from 2... Read more
More news