Fact: The smaller the pixel the less information it is capable of gathering.
Fact: Large pixels create less "noise" in the the resulting photograph.
Are you aware that a Full HD television screen runs at two mega pixels?
A photograph taken with a six mp (mega pixel) sensor is very capable of producing fine 8X10" prints.
I think that the consumer is partly to blame, not looking at their needs or even image quality, but looking for the latest "big numbers".
For my needs, posting photos on the net, sending e-mails and soon to be filling a photo album with a bunch of 4X6" photos, I would be well served with a three mp camera.
But like most, I want other features that are also available on the better cameras and the cameras of today are of higher resolution than I really need.
Even though the newest cameras enjoy processors that deal well with the resultant "noise" created by the smaller pixel I feel that there are limits to the amount of pixels on a given sensor size that allows for the best photographs.
I believe that most compact camera are served best with a sensor in the five to seven mp range. DSLR's equiped with the APS-C sized sensors seem to run best at six to twelve mega pixels.
The full frame cameras can run from twelve mps on up to the lower twenties, with the lower numbers offering speed and great high ISO performance and the higher numbers offering incredible resolution.
The following photographs were captured with my Fuji s100fs at eleven, six and three mega pixels: