Study: Pretty picture for camera phone sales

More than a quarter of all mobile phones to be sold globally in 2004 will also function as cameras, and the growth doesn't stop there.

Camera phones are clicking with consumers around the world.

More than a quarter of all mobile phones to be sold globally in 2004 will also function as cameras, according to a study from InfoTrends Research Group. Shipments of camera phones this year will reach 150 million units, the group said Thursday.

Other researchers have said overall handset shipments for 2004 will be in the range of 580 million to 585 million.

Sales of camera phones will see a compound annual growth rate of 55 percent over the next four years, to reach 656 million units in 2008, according to InfoTrends.

In 2003, half the global market for camera phones was in Japan, but other regions--led by China, the largest mobile phone market worldwide--will start to shift the balance this year, InfoTrends said. By 2008, the overall market outside Japan is likely to have a 56 percent share of camera phone shipments globally, the market researcher said.

Handset makers continue to churn out new picture-snapping cell phones. For instance, Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications announced this week several handsets with built-in cameras, including the S700 handset, whose camera has a 1.3-megapixel resolution.

"Growth in the camera phone market creates new opportunities for many industry players , including handset vendors, wireless carriers and digital photofinishers," said Jill Aldort, an analyst at InfoTrends. "Camera phones have boosted slowing worldwide mobile phone sales, and photo messaging has contributed to an increase in data sent over the wireless networks."

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