Smartphones and cameras have become quite ubiquitous over the years. For this reason, it should come as no surprise that Apple is investing heavily in an effort to further advance smartphone camera technology. Today, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple has acquired the Israel based photo and imaging company, LinX. Apple confirmed this acquisition. According to WSJ’s inside sources, the acquisition price was around $20 million dollars.
Who is LinX?
Apple just dropped $20 million dollars to acquire this company, but why? LinX specializes in micro-camera technology such as that used in smartphones and tablets today. Below is an excerpt from their website:
Utilizing state-of-the-art multi aperture imaging technology that combines innovative image processing, advanced sensor and optics technology, our cameras set new standards for image quality parameters such as low light performance, HDR, refocusing, color fidelity, shutter lag and more…
LinX cameras are significantly smaller than any camera on the market today, leading the way to DSLR performance in slim handsets.
In short, LinX is a company that has been researching and developing to bring DSLR image parity to smartphones and tablets alike.
Why is this important?
While the smartphone camera has nearly demolished camera sales to the typical consumer, many professional photographers still prefer to use DSLRs and other digital cameras. This is typically due to DSLR cameras having more flexibility with interchangeable lenses that provide a wider range of aperture options, wireless flashes, and a variety of other accessories that don’t aren’t compatible with most smartphone cameras.
Aperture makes all the difference in terms of focusing on a specific subject within a photo and blurring out the rest. Take a look at the comparison photos demonstrating different aperture adjustments below:
Such minor adjustments are not currently possible on smartphone cameras without (imperfect) post photo processing. For an aperture comparison with a smartphone, take a look at this comparison image provided by TechSpot that compares an HTC One M8 and a DSLR:
While the difference is subtle, the picture on the left looks quite a bit more professional due to it having substantially more background blur. LinX “multi-aperture” technology could begin bringing these finer details of professional photography to the iPhone. As we approach parity between such devices, any remaining market-share held by traditional digital cameras and DSLRs is likely to diminish.
The chart to the right provided by PetaPixel shows how compact camera sales have taken a hit in recent years as smartphone cameras have caught up in image quality. While PetaPixel doesn’t claim causation between smartphones and the impact on compact camera sales, common sense will tell you otherwise. We can all generate a strong hypothesis that having access to a smartphone with a camera that is as-good-if-not-better than a compact camera removes any need for a compact camera. This is especially true considering that smartphone cameras are infinitely more accessible during those random special moments. Hopefully, LinX technology will be able to do the same regarding DSLR cameras.
It will be interesting to see what enhancements this acquisition will bring to the iPhone and iPad in years to come. For now, we will just have to sit and speculate.
What are your thoughts on Apple’s recent acquisition? How would you like them to improve upon the iPhone’s camera? Let us know in the comments below.