Mobile Camera Phones Outnumber Digital Still Cameras

Mobile phones have emerged as the single largest market for image sensors, surpassing the entire consumer electronics segment, including digital still cameras, according to iSuppli Corp. Unit shipments of image sensors to mobile phones were 484 million in 2005, compared to 199 million for all other applications outside of mobile phones—including digital still cameras.

Revenue from shipments of image sensors for mobile phones will grow to $5.9 billion by 2010, increasing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 27.4%, up from $1.7 billion in 2005. Unit shipments of image sensors to mobile phones will grow to 1.2 billion by 2010, increasing at a CAGR of 19.7%. 

By 2010, this disparity will grow more, with nearly 1.2 billion sensors shipped for mobile handsets and slightly less than 350 million shipped for other applications, including digital still cameras.

Although cameras have become standard on most mobile phones, studies suggest that actual usage remains much lower, with less than 10% of consumers actually using the device as their primary image capture device. 

Digital still cameras remain the device of choice for capturing images digitally mainly because of the following reasons: 

  • Lower image quality in mobile handsets 
  • Drawbacks in form factors and ease of operation in mobile phones 
  • Difficulties and sometimes the cost of transferring photos from a user’s phone to another device, such as a PC

These challenges are exacerbated by two other factors: marketing from digital still camera manufacturers and user experiences. Users may have to get accustomed to low-resolution camera phone pictures because at the current rate of advancement, the average camera phone will not reach the 4 to 5 megapixel level range until 2010.

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