Jo Harlow speaks about "computational photography" (not about the next 41MP sensor)

I'm not much into rumours, so I'm not sure whether I should post about this or not. But hey, if it's good enough for WPCentral, it must be good enough for me I guess. WPCentral wrote about a few quotes over at Techradar, where they were able to quote Jo Harlow, Corporate Vice President of Phones Business Unit at Microsoft. They asked ms. Harlow "if a phone with the power of the Lumia 1020 could still appear" - and quoted her as follows: "Absolutely – we're not end of the mission in camera technology, or in computational photography. We continue to invest in that area to bring the next greatest thing in high-end imaging."

Techradar's conclusion is blazing fast: "while Harlow predictably wouldn't be drawn on a timescale for such a device, it's feasible that it could launch before the end of the year, given cameraphones can be seen a better gift in the holiday season, and it would make sense for Microsoft to launch something by November to take advantage of that." It even got WPCentral excited enough to write "a Microsoft executive has hinted that the company still has plans to release Windows Phone products that will have higher end camera hardware like the Lumia 1020 with its 41 megapixel PureView lens."

Considering the amount of reactions I get after posts like these, many people are (like me) really looking forward to a new device with a 41MP sensor (Techradar writes about 42MP). But it's not what Jo Harlow said. What I find way more interesting in her quote is what she says about "computational photography". That's far from new, since she said exactly the same well over a year ago, in an interesting post over at the Indian me quote from that post, even so much later.

In that post, Jo Harlow says "I think that is a key challenge to bring to a smartphone because computational imaging or computational photography requires computational power. That was one of the limitations in bringing that kind of experiences on a smartphone. Changes in the processing capabilities of smartphones opens it up as an area of exploration". That's what Jo Harlow said in May 2013 and I think it's exactly the same as what she said recently. And in my opinion it's more about computational power than about a 41MP sensor - which after all is "just" hardware, depending on how you look at it.

Moreover, if the future of imaging is about computational power, my guess is it won't make much sense to work with a 41MP sensor - giving you so much data that would only slow down that power. So in other words: it may have the power of the Lumia 1020 (as she was asked), but there's no reason yet to hope for a successor with a 41MP sensor. Techradar's conclusion "it's feasable that it could launch before the end of the year" because of the holiday season is just wishful thinking. I'm pretty sure that if you're really into mobile imaging quality, you'll have to hold on to your 808 PureView and/or Lumia 1020 for quite some time - and you can wish for something else for Christmas this year.