Reports are filtering in that the new iPhone 5 has a camera problem. When pointed near a bright light, a characteristic magenta hue smears across the screen. This "Hendrix Effect" is not apparent in earlier versions of the iPhone.

According to Gizmodo, Apple is responding to complaints by informing customers that the purple is normal:

Our engineering team just gave me this information and we recommend that you angle the camera away from the bright light source when taking pictures. The purple flare in the image provided is considered normal behavior for iPhone 5's camera.

This is the wrong reaction.

People now use cell phones as their primary point-and-shoot cameras. Why wouldn't we, with cell cameras so convenient? When I go out, I'm much more likely to grab my iPhone 4s (no 5 for me just yet, thanks) than my digicam. Surely this consolidation of extraneous gadgets into unified, all-capable smartphones is the most welcome of recent tech trends. Phones are the new cameras. Consumers make purchasing decisions accordingly.

Look, for example, at the dismal trends for small digital cameras:

Smartphone manufacturers are eating a large slice of the traditional camera company pizza. To lock down this progress, phone manufacturers cannot afford to go backwards on their optics or to treat imaging problems flippantly. People buy phones based on the performance the cameras, and this stumble may be a bigger one than Apple realizes.

[note: I have not yet used an iPhone 5, so I have no personal experience with the purple haze problem.]