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Cameraphone makers address user issues

Posted: 05 May 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:cameraphones? canon? epson? hewlett-packard? nokia?

A handful of vendors banned together to address the interoperability glitches between cameraphones and printers at the Cameraphone Summit 2004.

Canon, Epson, Hewlett-Packard, Nokia, Siemens, and Samsung announced the Mobile Imaging and Printing Consortium on Thursday (April 29, 2004). The group issued technical guidelines to make cameraphones and printers work better together.

MIPC will help ensure interoperability between different implementations of Bluetooth and other communications protocols. It will also address the need to make it easier for users to format for printing images taken by handsets. "The industry needs many efforts like this," said Mike Butler, director of business strategy for Nokia's imaging division.

Other issues were raised by two keynoters at the show.

Cameraphone pictures take too long and costs too much to upload and they are too difficult to print and store, said keynoter Juha Putkiranta, senior VP of the mobile multimedia and imaging group at Nokia Mobile Phones.

"Cameraphones are good enough for mass adoption but there are some real performance gaps," said Putkiranta. "Image quality is not there and we have problems with different light conditions that are easily handled by digital still cameras. And the capture and manipulation speed just are not there today," he added.

The Nokia executive said he expects both LED and flash modules will come to handsets soon to offer better lighting in short distances. Optical zoom features are also in the labs, he said.

But the bottlenecks in the networking infrastructure loom among the largest issues. Today's networks can take 15 to 30 minutes to upload an image from 1Mpixel cameras at a cost ranging from $6 to $60 or more for roaming users, he said. The nets may not be able to keep up with phone makers who have road maps for shipping 2Mpixel phones early next year and 5Mpixel versions after them. "The pressure on carriers is mounting because the value proposition for mobile imaging is so good," he said. Other speakers at the summit said cameraphones are raising policy issues on privacy and content ownership that have yet to be addressed.

Despite the many speed bumps along the way, market researchers estimate as many as 84 million cameraphones shipped last year. A representative of Samsung's U.S. cellphone group here estimated as many as 60 percent of the company's handsets will be cameraphones next year.

"The cameraphone market is definitely here. It's not a hope or hype and it's bringing compelling opportunities that did not exist before," said Gregg Patterson, a VP in HP's printing and imaging division.

Patterson estimated as many as 312 billion digital images a year will be captured, stored or shared in 2008.

- Rick Merritt

EE Times

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