A new Android phone coming from Sony Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) is rumored to have a camera capable of capturing 4K Ultra HD video. If you think your HD television picture looks sharp, then hold on to your eyeballs. Ultra HD has four times the resolution of HD.
That’s 3840 x 2160 pixels, compared with 1920 x 1080 pixels. Go ahead; do the math.
But if you don’t have an Ultra HD TV — and it’s much more likely you would have a 3D-TV than a 4K TV, given much higher set prices and limited 4K content — would a smartphone with a 4K video camera be incentive enough to make the switch to a Sony Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) phone from a Samsung, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), or HTC handset?
Or is that putting the cart before the horse? Selling more smartphones might not be Sony Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:SNE)’s real agenda. Since Sony Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) also makes Ultra HD TVs, one might think the rationale behind a super camera enabled smartphone could be to boost its 4K television sales.
If so, wouldn’t Samsung be getting ready with its own 4K-camera phone to promote its line of Ultra HD TVs?
With the current high prices for these state-of-the-art Ultra HD televisions, Sony Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) and Samsung would need all the promotional help they could get. The cheapest is Sony’s 55-inch model, which goes for $5,000. And one could buy a Toyota Prius for the price of its 84″ model: $25,000.
But don’t get off the floor just yet: Samsung’s 85-inch Ultra HD set retails for $40,000. No kidding.
There’s one more very important reason for Sony — and Samsung, too — to try to get ahead of the Ultra HD curve with a 4K smartphone camera. The UHD standards are not yet set in stone, and the company that can garner the most UHD sales could influence the future definitive 4K standard.
That means getting as many consumers as possible hooked on a company’s 4K standard as early as possible. When it comes to setting technical standards, it’s often the most popular standard that wins out, not necessarily the one that is technically superior.
Remember, Betamax vs, VHS? Sony Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:SNE)’s Betamax format supposedly yielded a better picture, yet because of lower prices on VHS records and the ability to record longer programs, the VHS standard was triumphant.
With the success of such 3-D movies as Avatar, the TV makers could be excused for thinking 3-D TV would be the next big thing. That hasn’t happened, and Samsung has admitted that 3-D TV sales in 2012 were a big disappointment.
Along with the higher cost for 3-D TVs came poorer picture quality and the necessity for special viewing glasses. The format may not just disappear, but it will remain only a novelty.
What has proved to be a winner for TV makers — though not for cable TV providers — are so-called “smart” TVs, those that can be connected to the Internet to stream video. And streaming will likely become the most viable delivery system for UHD programming.