According to a report from consumer electronics research firm iSuppli, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) brought about a sea change in how digital cameras are built when it designed the iPhone 4. Being among the first mass-market products to use backside illumination sensor chips from OmniVision Technologies (Nasdaq: OVTI), the iPhone has now impressed reviewers and shown that the strategy is both cost-effective and good for consumers.

OmniVision is the only company that's serious about building these highly efficient BSI chips today, because rivals including Sony (NYSE: SNE) and Panasonic (NYSE: PC) didn't prioritize BSI research years ago when the technology proved expensive to build. Now that the iPhone has raised awareness of this technology and other gadget builders start to follow this enormously influential trendsetter, other chip suppliers will need to crank up their BSI research projects again.

But OmniVision has a serious lead on all of them, having worked out kinks in the manufacturing and design processes that most rivals haven't even seen yet. This is OmniVision's time to shine. Capitalize now or forever hold your peace, though -- new technologies like quantum-dot photo film are gearing up to steal BSI's thunder if OmniVision falls asleep at the wheel. Some of this sounds like science fiction now, but that's always how it plays out until new technologies become the new standard.

If OmniVision does play its cards correctly here and ramps up orders through preferred chip manufacturing partner Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (NYSE: TSM), this will indeed be a golden age in terms of profits, sales, and technological leadership. The meek may inherit the earth, but not until the bold give it up!

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. True to its name, The Motley Fool is made up of a motley assortment of writers and analysts, each with a unique perspective; sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we all believe in the power of learning from each other through our Foolish community. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.