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Experts chime in on future of camera phones

Experts at the International Solid State Circuits Conference here debated whether a "killer application" is needed to boost demand for camera phones long after the novelty of taking pictures with the cellphone has worn off.

"Every year we have a new higher projection for the camera phones market," said panel moderator Jed Hurwitz of STMicroelectronics. "In 2004, mobile phone vendors introduced the first handsets with image sensors that had 3.2 million pixels. And Samsung promises 10 million pixels by the end of the year. But will consumers care?"

Citing what he called "communication ubiquity" and "imaging by the general population" could result in the next big set of mobile phone applications, said Etoh.

"Video telephony is known to be a killer application for 3G," added Jinsung Choi of LG Electronics. "However, it turns out that other relatively simple multimedia applications such as MMS [Multimedia Messaging Service] are more popular in reality. The way end users accept new applications are different from what we think," said Choi.

Consumers are accustomed to carrying mobile phones, fueling the used of phone cameras. "The human desire to be able to store memories and share means the camera phone is set to be the preferred consumer imaging solution," said Nokia's Janne Haavisto. Haavisto said the mobile phone is the world's most successful and popular portable platform, containing a high-quality display, plenty of memory, good processing power, long-life battery and most importantly, seamless connectivity to other mobile users and to the Internet, said Haavisto. "The core technologies of pixel, lens and packaging are being developed at an extraordinary rate to match both the performance and the supply expectations of a mature digital imaging market."

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