Ultrapixels Beat Megapixels? A Surveillance Lesson

By John Honovich, Published on Feb 23, 2013

A Taiwanese manufacturer, far behind market leaders, captured mass media attention recently with a cunning marketing campaign against megapixels. HTC's new smartphone, the One X+ [link no longer available] led with the promise of "ultrapixels", claiming major improvements over the highest pixel smart phones. They were rewarded with extensive tech coverage in Wired [link no longer available], Mashable, Engadget, etc. This fascinating case draws important lessons for surveillance camera positioning.

What is Ultrapixels?

HTC made up a term (ultrapixels) to convey that their pixels are superior to standard megapixels. The technical claims supporting this include:

  • Larger pixels (less pixels on the same imager size as higher pixel count cameras - they have 4MP on a 1/3" imager vs others having 8MP or 13MP)
  • Lower F stop than rivals (at f/2.0)
  • 2 axis optical image stabilizer
  • Better WDR (which they call real time video HDR

These specific features match up well with our megapixel limitations critique in the Ban Resolution report - you can often optimize low and harsh light performance by staying away from the bleading edge of maximum pixels.

The Key Takeaway

Whether or not HTC's new camera is better, it has already achieved an impressive goal - impacting the conversation and mindset that more megapixels is always better. We believe this is due to the choice of the word 'ultrapixel' which, even to the uninformed, conveys superiority (i.e., ultra 'sounds' better than 'mega'). This is especially impressive considering HTC does not demand nor receive coverage as easily as their far larger rivals Apple and Samsung.

Application in Surveillance?

This is a good template for a surveillance industry marketing campaign. Pick an easy to understand prefix (like 'ultra', 'super', 'uber', etc.), attach it to 'pixel' and pitch how your technology is better than 'more megapixels'. The term itself will make it easier for the uninformed (including trade magazine editors and market analysts) to comprehend.

Obviously, this approach has its own risks. Marketers can misrepresent the other way. However, a marketing battle over the value of pixels would likely have a net positive impact as it would force consumers to be more critical and careful about setting expectations on the value of pixels.

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