Consumers are expected to buy a half billion camera-phones this year, which amounts to 2 out of every 3 mobile phones purchased, a research firm said.
The latest forecast from Future Image Inc. means that 5 out of every 6 digital cameras sold this year would be embedded in phones.
The buying spree is expected to continue at least through 2009, when camera-phone sales are expected to rise to 900 million units, or 90 percent of the 1 billion mobile phones projected to be sold that year, the research firm said in a statement.
“The explosive growth in personal network-connected image capture devices is a fundamental shift, comparable for instance to the rapid spread of PCs in the 90’s -- but on a much larger scale” Alexis Gerard, president of Future Image, said.
Consumer demand for digital photography has spawned numerous secondary markets, such as desktop software for photo editing and organizing, photo-sharing services, such as those offered by Web portals Yahoo Inc. and America Online Inc.; and photo-quality printing through the Web and from home printers.
“The global appetite for mobile imaging devices continues to grow unabated, ” Tony Henning, managing editor of the research firm's Mobile Imaging Report, said.
Current estimates for the mobile-phone market in general could prove conservative, Henning said. By the end of the decade, the number of wireless subscribers is expected to soar to more than 3 billion from 2 billion today, but that's still less than half of the estimated global population in 2009.
Today, cellular networks cover 80 percent of the world's population, which amounts to a target market of 5.5 billion people.