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Industry News

Mobile World Congress - An Imaging Perspective

14 Mar, 2014

Ed Lee and Mette Eriksen of InfoTrends have lots to say about the global Mobile Market in general.Read on:
Players in the mobile market congregated in Barcelona, Spain from February 24-27 for the annual Mobile World Congress (MWC) trade show and conference. The 2014 event was bigger than previous years and preliminary numbers from the GSMA Association suggest that around 85,000 visitors attended the show.

While Mobile World Congress is not an imaging specific show, it is arguably the place where the future of imaging is being shaped. As consumers migrate from digital cameras to smartphones for every day photos, vendors in the smartphone market are beginning to have a significant influence on photo habits and feature expectations.

Nokia was the vendor with the strongest focus on imaging capabilities, with the message that they have connected billions of people already and want to connect the next billion. Nokia’s big announcement at MWC was the upgrade path they are offering to both developed and developing countries, from the entry-level Asha brand to the mid-level Lumia X and the top-of-the-line Lumia smartphone. Undoubtedly, Nokia will provide many people with their first digital photography experience, but their  focus on affordability is not unique as the industry grapples with how to overcome the traditionally heavy subsidies on handsets that are provided by network players.

Samsung’s announcement of the Galaxy S5 smartphone at its Unpacked 5 event was a highlight of the show. The rear camera is one of the highpoints of the Galaxy S5, which has been upgraded to a 16 MP sensor from 13 MP and offers a host of imaging features, like very fast autofocus, HDR, and selective focus. Sony one-upped the Galaxy S5’s 16 MP resolution with the announcement of its Xperia Z2 with a 20.7 MP camera sensor.

One of the big imaging trends at Mobile World Congress was 4K video. While digital camera vendors are still deciding how to implement 4K video capture, companies like Samsung and Sony are charging ahead and adding it to their newest handsets. Both the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2 smartphones can capture 4K video at 30 fps, and others are likely to quickly follow. The file sizes that 4K video generate mean that devices will require larger amounts of memory, either embedded in the device or through expandable storage.

Sensor manufacturer Aptina is even pushing the boundaries beyond 4K. The company demonstrated a 25 MP sensor that captures video at close to 8K resolution. Muvee, a video editing app developer, showed how 4K video could easily be cropped using their Muvee reFrame app on a smartphone, which is only available for Android. Whilst 4K video is becoming available on mobile devices, screen manufacturers are still in the early stages of rolling out affordable offerings to take advantage of the personal content that will be generated.

One clear takeaway from the MWC show is that imaging is extremely important to the mobile phone industry. As a result, there is a lot of activity taking place, with mobile phone companies and technology providers actively pushing the boundaries of imaging. Looking ahead, we expect that many new developments in the Intelligent Photography segment will come out of the mobile industry.    ***For information on Infotrends, a leading consulting and research company that specializes in office technology, visit http://www.infotrends.com

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