Camera phones to represent 90% of total Western European mobile phone shipments by 2009, says IDC

LONDON – OCTOBER 6, 2005 – According to a recent forecast published by IDC, camera phone shipments in Western Europe are set to reach 179 million units in 2009, to constitute just over 90% of total mobile phone shipments. IDC predicts a compound annual growth rate of 8%, slightly higher than the growth forecast for the total mobile phone market, with converged devices positioned as multimedia and imaging solutions expected to demonstrate the largest growth during the forecast period.

"The integrated digital camera has become the most visible illustration to date of the progress of convergence in the mobile market," said Andrew Brown, program manager of IDC's European Mobile Devices service. "2004 witnessed the proportion of handsets with integrated cameras grow to 70% of total Western European mobile phone shipments from just 15% in 2003, illustrating the growing importance of imaging from high-end smart phones down to basic midrange and increasingly low-end mobile phones."

The declining costs of components and manufacturing/production efficiencies will be a key driver of the integrated digital camera into low-end handsets market, according to IDC, while the advent of high-speed networks and technologies such as SIP (session initiation protocol) and IMS (IP multimedia subsystem) will maximize the role of the digital camera in high-end devices as a mechanism central to rich content sharing across fixed and mobile networks and between IP-enabled devices.

However, despite the positive outlook for the future of the integrated digital camera within the mobile phone, IDC advises vendors to exercise caution with regard to the notion of the mobile phone's long-term prospects as a converged alternative to a dedicated digital camera.

"Limitations on component quality caused by the requirement to limit BOM (build of material), costs, and total strain on the battery means the dedicated digital camera will always retain both a quality and cost advantage over the mobile phone," said Geoff Blaber, research analyst, European Mobile Devices. "While camera phones will cannibalize limited demand at the low end of the digital camera market, IDC believes that integrated cameras will largely assist digital camera market growth by alerting a broader demographic to the capability of digital photography."

IDC stresses that the requirement for spontaneous image capture, rich image/video messaging, and increasingly the need for two-way cameras to enable video calling will constitute the primary accelerator of camera phone market development between 2005 and 2009.

IDC's Western European Camera Phone Forecast and Analysis, 2004-2009 (Doc #JS05M, October 2005) examines camera phone shipments in 2004, including analysis by device type, vendor, and country, and provides shipment forecasts for the period 2005-2009 by device type and resolution, and analysis of the camera phone's effect on the dedicated digital camera market.

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