Lens orders increase, more tablets with cameras coming?

Taiwanese manufacturer Largan Precision Co. revealed today a spike in orders that hints at an influx of new tablets with cameras built in. The firm, which specializes in plastic lenses for handheld devices, says the first quarter is typically a slow period, but instead revenues rose 52% in March compared to the year before.

Speaking to PCWorld, Largan spokesman Charles Chiu said that the orders were for mostly cameras with up to 5 megapixels, but when asked who the orders were for, remained tight-lipped. Nonetheless, Largan is seeing a definite upwards trend in profits, with a 33% rise in profits over February, and an estimated revenue of $44 million in March.

Analysts agree that the future is in camera-equipped tablets. Wai Ho Leong, a senior regional economist, says that "there's definitely a trend, [as] Apple has seen fit to equip its iPad 2 with a camera, so the others will follow." DigitTimes Research's Ian Peng was more skeptical on the applications of a rear mounted camera. "Users will welcome the front-mounted cameras for video conferences [...] It would be strange to take photos with such a big thing."

With the sudden flood of tablets touting cameras, it appears that tablets have found a new selling point for consumers: video conferencing. While Apple's FaceTime is designed to be a simple solution to connecting people, it's so far only been limited to Apple's own devices. Meanwhile, Skype is leading the way in bringing mobile video chat to the masses, with other solutions such as Windows Live only having limited success. Bundling Skype in with computers and hardware is nothing new, and with the new range of video-enabled tablets coming to market, it may not be long before we see tighter integration with video calling services in order to make it as easy as possible for people to video chat.

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