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The promise of camera phones will be video, not still images, market-research company IDC contends.
Video “will become the key imaging application on mobile handsets over the forecast period, growing from only 44 percent penetration of global camera phone unit shipments in 2004 to 100 percent, or 766 million units by 2009.”
Video will dominate because the components required to record quality videos are cheaper and easier to integrate into a mobile handset, IDC said. Conversely, still-camera technology “necessitates multi-dimensional high-quality glass optics, zoom motors, autofocus, 3-megapixel image sensors and advanced high-speed signal processing.”
While these features are available on any entry-level digital still camera, camera phones would need to get bigger and more expensive to compete with this basic functionality, IDC noted.
The pieces for improved video recording — including high capacity removable memory cards and improved compression — are already in place and don't require the burdensome integration that accompany enhanced still capture technology, making video the logical application for mobile imaging, IDS said.
Senior analyst Chris Chute said 72 million camera phones in use today in the United States represent about 33 percent of U.S. households. Roughly half of those phones feature some video-capture capability, Chute noted. IDC expects 62 million camera phones to ship this year in the United States, growing to 150 million by 2009.
Video captured by digital still cameras will grow an average of 28 percent. Over time, video captured by tape-based camcorders will lose share to camcorders featuring alternative media.