Camera phones to gain in popularity in Middle East

Next year could prove to be the year of the camera phone in the Middle East. The success story of 2003 looks set to build on its growth in the region in 2004 year, with vendors looking to launch even more models to meet pent-up demand in the region.

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By  Peter Branton Published  December 20, 2003

2004 could prove to be the year of the camera phone in the Middle East. The success story of 2003 looks set to build on its growth in the region next year, with vendors looking to launch even more models to meet pent-up demand in the region.

Initially dismissed as a gimmick, with limited picture quality, the camera phone has proved to be incredibly popular worldwide, with tens of millions of models being sold.
However, camera phones are currently banned in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the largest potential market in the Middle East.

This is despite the popularity of digital cameras in the Kingdom, with 37% of consumers saying they are planning to buy one in the near future. This figure is from a recent survey carried out by ACNeilson in Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam.

Vendors are keen to launch more models, with companies vying with each other to offer the best quality pictures. While current models only offer VGA standard, which falls short of true print quality, one and two megapixel cameras are expected to become commercially available this year.

Samsung is hoping to build on its stated number two position in the market, with the launch of 25 mobile phone models in 2004. This month it launched the SGH X-600 camera phone which comes with a built-in flash and supports night-shooting and multishot mode. Weighing in at just 80 grams it is also one of the lightest models on the market.

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