By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
TWICE: One of the first questions we asked in the first roundtable six years ago was whether we had reached the point where megapixels really mattered. The general consensus was that they didn't, but here we are with 12-megapixel cameras on the market. So is this really ever going to stop?
Pepple: I'd love to beat my shoe on the table today and say I'll bury you all. But the reality is, it's just one component within the camera that matters. We use our Super CCD, for example, not just as a resolution technology. We use it to drive anti-shake, we use it to drive our face-detection technologies, our high ISO capabilities. And they all trickle down to ease of use. I think that's really what the consumer is trying to see through all the fog — what is this camera going to do for me and how easy is it to use?
Maciag: I think we've move a little bit beyond the megapixel war. I certainly think that sales associates understand that 6 to 8 to 10 is certainly enough to get a wonderful picture. I do think we're moving beyond the megapixel as features like dust reduction, in-camera image stabilization, splash-proof technology differentiate each manufacturer.
TWICE: How high could the resolutions conceivably go?
Pepple: I think that's dependent on lens technology. It's been the one weak link in the whole chain. Lenses are much better. But for consumer cameras, those lenses take a long time to develop and they're very expensive. As the technology to produce that lens technology becomes better, then they can creep up in CCD resolution continually.
Lee: Technologically, we're continually pushing forward. I think that what we're seeing in second- and third-time buyers now — they're not just like a bug to the light that the megapixel is the answer to all. They are looking at many other features and really looking at end image quality and ease of use.
Cordova: Consumers are definitely getting more sophisticated. In many cases, this means producing prints in larger formats that are suitable for framing and in that case, they will reach up for a higher-than-normal resolution camera.
Magee: The industry has little incentive to slow down. The voting comes at retail where people ask for the highest megapixel camera. If we offer 12, they buy it. And we're going to stay on that road as long as the consumer asks for that. We just have to train the consumer on what to do with that higher resolution. And we look to video — that experience can benefit from a higher resolution [imager].
Rubin: I think that the irony is that we are seeing higher megapixels being applied more indirectly, into other features of the camera. But where it's still coming into play is vs. the camera phones, right? Those are still coming up the curve to where digital cameras were maybe a decade ago, heading from 1.3 megapixels to 2 to 3. So, at least for the short term, I think that's going to be a differentiator for digital still cameras.
Lubell: This raises the question of what is enough for consumers? It's fair to say that consumers view megapixel as you would horsepower in a car engine. And there are other features, as Darin mentioned, that explain why megapixels increase. I think over time that might become a little bit more evident to end users.
Rubin: Megapixels are also coming along for the ride, in a sense, with other features that consumers want in a certain price segment.
Cordova: I think ultimately consumers are going to gravitate towards the highest megapixels they can get within a price range.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.