Your scare is very weird, because it's not at all backed by the facts.
What scares me is exactly the contrary: artificial demand for more resolution and more megapixels (the more the better, isn't it? - marketing blurb).
That's not marketing blurb. It's fact, easily demonstrated with cameras that do RAW, while the opposite has no proof at all, just a bunch of mantras, and bad conclusions drawn from the madness of the noise reduction race, and the high RAW-illiteracy rate of people who are otherwise generally on the up-and-up. Back in the day, almost everyone I knew who was serious about photography knew about the darkroom; today, only a very small number of people even look at RAW data and try to work it themselves. Then, they don't know what it is that they need to complain about, blaming the sensor for things done by software.
Once upon a time a company called Fuji made a series a fine compact cameras around a 6.3 MP sensor (F10, F11, F20, F30). These were the first compact cameras that were able to produce decent images at 800 ISO.
Noise reduction, period. No sensor that small has low noise images. The Fuji 6.3MP sensor is average, in its class, perhaps below average. It has a quantum efficiency a stop lower than the much-maligned 10MP Panasonic sensor in the FZ50, and slightly more read noise *per* pixel, with barely more than half of them. Fuji, like Sigma, has created an impressionistic style of NR and conversion that has a strong following.
They sadly were the last too.
They were the last, perhaps, to be rescued in the eyes of the optically naive by noise reduction at a 100% pixel view. When you back away from individual trees, and look at the forest, then you will see why there is value in having assembled all these trees together.
Fuji dropped this in under the pressure of the pixel-peeping crowds that always demand more pixels.
The term "Pixel Peeper", unfortunately, gets two groups of people lumped into it, with very different viewpoints. I get called a pixel peeper because I study noise and signal to some degree, and it involves measurements with pixels, but I do not see the pixel as the determiner of image quality; it is only the quality of a spatial witness with a *varying* degree of accountability, depending on total pixel population in a displayed image, and the usage. The person who complains about the MP race, in general, claiming that it leads to more noise, based on the individual pixel noise and/or softness is the true pixel peeper, IMO, at least as far as the negative connotations are concerned.
The low-light capable F30 was replaced by a 10 MP F50 which is no better than the rest of the 10-12 MP compact cameras: useless over 400 ISO.
Do any of them output RAW? Take the same shot on one and an S6500fd (which has the 6.3MP snesor and RAW), and link to the RAW files, and I will show you both, resampled to the same size, with no NR or other non-homogeneities.
For the Foveon as for the other CMOS/CCD sensors (and as for silver halide emulsions...), there's a trade-off between resolution and sensitivity.
Film is a *completely* different story than digital sensors. Film is less sensitive when the grain is fine, and the developed grain expands very slowly, so it takes a lot of light to get a saturated capture (more original hots; less growth during devlelopment). Digital has low sensitivity by being able to capture lots of photons per unit of area, but slowly.
It's a good thing Foveon did not choose to increase resolution, because noise would be even more problematic. It is problematic enough to my taste.
Most of the noise that you see in Foveons is due to two things:
1) Problems with the color filtering method used leads to the blotches of green vs purple-blue in the shadows, and
2) Shot and read noises are magnified by the mathematical tricks used to get distinct, saturated hues out of the poorly separated RAW color channels.
I clearly prefer crisp 8x12" prints (or slideshows) with low noise to accurate 1:1 luminance detail on my monitor and useless prints plagued with color noise.
What is "accurate 1:1 luminance detail"?
But big mosaics of noise are not a problem? I can not simulate or replicate this alleged benefit you propose with low pixel density; the shot noise has the same energy, it's just a bit shallower, but bigger noise and image "grain". The read noise usually has less energy with a higher pixel density.
But John, you can rest assured that the vast majority still believes it's normal to have Christmas trees in any forest shot at 800 ISO.
I don't make any sense out of that statement. Try paraphrasing it.
And that you need to have enough resolution for 20x30" prints even if the lens resolves 30 lp/mm (24x36mm-equivalent) and less than thousand photographers on earth print a 20x30" each year.
Resolution has nothing necessarily to do with print size. High pixel density is also to get rid of artifact in the capture, and generally reduces image-level read noise, while maintaining image-level shot noise. You can resample a 50MP image to 5MP, 4MP, 3MP, 12MP, etc, with a minimum of artifact. A 6MP resampled to the same sizes will have more artifacts, and probably a bit more read noise.
You seem to completely miss the value and beauty of oversampling.