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PC Camera Category Set To Explode

FRAMINGHAM, MASS. -PC camera makers can expect sales to quadruple during the next four years, but analysts at International Data Corp. say the cameras will not reach their full potential until they are improved.

Research from IDC, Framingham, Mass., indicates 44 million PC cameras will ship by 2004, up from the 11 million that were shipped up to 2000. Most of the growth will come through bundle programs with PC vendors, said Chris Chute, IDC’s analyst for digital cameras and scanners, and the majority of the cameras will be sold in the United States.

IDC expects Logitech, Intel and Xirlink to continue to be the sales leaders in this category.

Despite the gains expected in this category, Chute said, several technical hurdles must be overcome. Slow frame rates and just-average image quality caused by slow Internet connections and limitations on image sensor quality plague the technology, although vendors are striving to fix these problems.

Mike Ostwind, sales and marketing director for PC camera maker Ezonics, said what is still lacking is a truly compelling application for these cameras.

While video chat and e-mail are popular, the bandwidth is still not there, and sometimes setting up the applications is difficult. Ezonics has tried to address this issue with the video-chat software supplied with the company’s EZPhone Cam product, he said, “but an application that will grab everyone’s attention is still needed.”