It is a bit too early to predict if this will be the final nail in the coffin of digital camera,but I can stick my neck out and say it will pretty much drive the segment into a corner. RAW,the rich file format that allows for a wide variety of post processing,is set to come to Windows and Android phones in the near future.
Soon after Nokia announced that its Lumia phones will soon have the ability to click pictures in DNG RAW format,an Android developer has noticed some code that suggested Google has trying to add RAW+JPEG capability to Android.
If Google incorporates this feature,it is likely to come in the next Nexus smartphones.
With camera phones becoming as good,or better,than most entry level digital cameras in the past couple of years,camera manufacturers had started focusing on the new premium compact segment with RAW as killer feature. If this feature,that lets photographers change pictures dramatically after they have been shot,too makes an entry into phones,there wouldn’t be a good reason left to buy a digital point-and-shoot.
The other feature that gives standalone cameras an edge is zoom. But even that seems to be an uphill climb. While Samsung has gone ahead and added a telescopic zoom to a phone which it imaginatively calls the Zoom,Nokia’s PureView technology shoots pictures in such a high resolution that you can zoom into any part of the frame and still retain high clarity.
However,RAW images will tend to be really heavy and smartphone manufacturers will have to figure out a way to transfer these images retaining their detail. But that is a challenge they would certainly overcome before the first cameras with RAW hit the market.
Professional and prosumers will continue to buy DSLRs which will,at least for a few more years,have a serious edge over phone cameras. But the bootom rung of the camera segement for now seems to have become a part of the smartphone food chain.