Sept. 2011 issue of 6Sight Report published a transcript of discussion on mobile imaging trends from its June 2011 Summit. Few quotes:
Tony Henning, 6Sight senior analyst:
"In digital still cameras, some are actually backing off the resolution to deliver better results. It’s said some sanity is coming to the megapixel race. But is there sanity coming to the mobile megapixel race? Will that race end soon?"
Robbert Emery, OmniVision:
"That’s a very interesting question. I think about it a different way: What can I do with more data? With more pixels?
We look at digital zoom; could be better. We look at image stabilization; could be better. If we look at what happened in the economic downturn, of course, there’s been some slowing in the adoption of higher resolution. But coming out of the economic downturn, the numbers shipped for lower resolution camera phones is lowering, and that for higher resolution phones is increasing. We’re looking at the adoption of 5-, 8-, 10-megapixel and above.
With applications and other ways of using more data, the race is definitely still on for higher resolution."
Paul Gallagher, Samsung:
"Right now it’s difficult to say. I agree we saw a slowdown during the economic downturn, but coming out of it, we’re seeing very aggressive adoption of 8 megapixel, and aggressive interest in 12MP. I think what we need to start looking at is we are starting to hit some cost barriers. Historically, the image sensor shrunk the pixel as a means to reduce its cost or to increase the pixel count. But now with the adoption of BSI, you saw a reset of market price. And when you move into sub-micron pixels, you’re probably going to see another reset. The consequences, from the economic point of view, will cause a slowdown. When you start looking at 16-megapixel third-inch optical-format products, the cost may break the model enough that the OEMs start rethinking when enough is enough."
Lars Nord, Sony Ericsson:
"I think it’s about what specifications people use to select the phone. Right now we don’t have many, so resolution
is the one they use. If you compare phones: this has five, this has eight… they’ll take the eight because you get more. More is better? Maybe not every time, but that’s how people think. Until we get some other measures of quality, we will see this megapixel race go on, unfortunately."
Other topics covered at the panel discussion are sensors and optics improvements, recent innovations and what's next in mobile imaging.