So It Begins
By Carlo Longino, Mon Apr 05 14:30:00 GMT 2004

Just a week after strong cameraphone sales figures were announced, Sony Ericsson's president says its parent has ceded the low-end camera market to mobile phones.

There's nothing new in the BusinessWeek article for regular readers of TheFeature, but in the very last paragraph there's a buried gem: Sony Ericsson president Katsumi Ihara says that Sony has given up the low-end digital camera market to cameraphones. While last week's sales figures showed that cameraphones outsold digital cameras nearly 2-to-1 in 2003, this is the first concrete statement from a vendor that the inevitable is beginning.

While it's interesting to hear this comment from the Sony Ericsson president rather than a Sony exec, it's still quite telling, and also reveals some of the two companies' strategy for dealing with the changing market. The latest Sony Ericsson handsets use expertise from Sony's digital imaging products, and even look like Cyber-shot digital cameras when they're used for taking pictures. Sony Ericsson is even playing up the Sony digital camera angle, hoping it gives them some cachet.

Cameraphones this year will eat into low-end digital camera sales, and as 1- and 2-megapixel handsets become more common, medium-tier cameras will also be threatened. It's hard not to think that low- and middle-range digital cameras aren't under serious threat in the next several years, as cameraphones will be sufficient for most average people's photographic needs.