So, for example as you mention above, Sony MUST innovate upwards as the consumer masses gravitate to the immediacy of smart phones like the iPhone5 with its 8 meg camera and the next Android SPs that most likely will jump that even further.
In the coming year, the mid-range area of cameras from all makers will be swarming with "must haves" and "can't live withouts" ... yet it begs the question ... to what end?
The paradigm shift I see is a lowering of standards in favor of "it's good enough and more fun to play with" ... camera as entertainment and unbridled immediacy, less of a tool of personal expression. In short, the balance between the art of photography and the tools has gone off kilter IMO. In general, the attribute of "imagination" has become the domain of the tool maker and less so of the image maker.
I think we now firmly reside in a "photographic technocracy" where the engineers, scientists and gamers are in control of the directional aspects of this field of creative endeavor, and for one main reason ... money, and lots of it. The consuming masses are like a wood chipper on steroids .... churning through innovation as fast as it's offered, then clamoring for more and more ... while producing more and more mediocrity. Nothing new there, just a LOT more of it .... a titanic Tsunami of swirling homogeneous white bread that has risen the image noise level to a deafening level.
What I've observed is that those with imagination, ideas and inspiration continue to have it, and those who don't, still don't. No matter how high the technology goes or how smart the device may be, the people who would be better off immersing themselves in the art of image making, are drowning in technology that dominates their time, energy and intelligence ... not to mention that all important bank account the makers love to tap into, and super-glue that tap into place like some sort of parasite that never quite kills its host but feeds on it endlessly