Technology writer and former editor of Windows Magazine Mike Elgan argues that in todays world of digital cameras the megapixel count should be the last parameter you take into account. I agree with him that for non-professional photographers the megapixel amount has reached the necessary level.
However, marketing sharks constantly bombarding the naive souls into making them believe that megapixel count is the top most important factor and that if you buy a new camera with a higher megapixel label your photos will look better no matter what.
He says that timing, quality of optic lenses, good use of lighting, optic zoom factor (instead of the totally meaningless digital zoom) is much more important for good quality photos. For instance, a camera with 3 megapixels and good optic lenses would produce better results than a camera with, say, 12 megapixels and less than good optic lenses.
At the end he adds some useful links to learn more about all these issues. Complete story here.