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Nokia plans to invest in high-res cameras

– Nokia Growth Partners, the venture-capital arm of the Finnish phonemaker, plans to invest in California startup Pelican Imaging to win back customers from Apple and Android devices with cameras that give greater depth and ease of splicing together images.

The Pelican investment is part of a push to differentiate Nokia as it tries to stimulate demand in its Lumia smartphones, which run Microsoft’s Windows software, to reverse falling sales and recover market share.

Lumia sales rose to 5.6 million in the first quarter, up from 4.4 million in the previous three months. Still, Apple and Android-based devices control more than 90 percent of the smartphone market to Espoo, Finland-based Nokia’s 3 percent, according to researcher Strategy Analytics. Imaging quality is one of the top three reasons to buy or return a phone, and as Nokia phones are known for their cameras, it’s seen as a good leverage point, according to Nokia Growth Partners.

Array cameras, which use multiple optics and mesh the data into one image, “are on the cusp of being commercialized and Pelican does software for that,” Bo Ilsoe, a partner at Nokia Growth Partners, said in a phone interview from California. “It’s very complicated to do this algorithmically, and Pelican is one of the companies that has mastered this technology.”

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