Another Challenging Year For Digital Cameras

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Jan 31, 2013

2013 is shaping up to be another challenging year for players in the digital camera market. In 2012, for the first time, the worldwide digital camera market declined. It was a significant decline of 10%. The cause of the decline is linked to the following factors:

  • Smartphones becoming the camera of choice for consumers in North America, Western Europe and parts of Asia/ Oceania
  • Household penetration of digital cameras is high in developed markets
  • A poor economy has led to cautious consumers who are reluctant to spend on luxury goods
  • The Japan — China conflict has led to a decline in cameras sold in China

Digital Camera Shipments 2002 – 2012

    The entire camera industry has been aware of mobile phones as an alternative to cameras. And, for several years mobile phones have had little impact on sales of digital cameras. During 2011 and 2012 this changed.
    InfoTrends’ European consumer surveys show the trend clearly.  Respondents who preferred to use a mobile phone most often for taking photos increased from 26% in 2011 to 41% in 2012. Similarly, US surveys are showing that mobile phones are becoming the most commonly used camera for everyday photos. For a complete analysis on consumer attitudes and behavior for digital cameras and smartphones check out InfoTrends’ reports Camera Phone Ownership and Usage: 2012 European Digital Photography Survey and Spotlight on Smartphones: Special Data Analysis from InfoTrends’ 2012 Mobile Imaging Survey.

    As we look at the year ahead more cameras will offer some form of connectivity. Wi-Fi enabled cameras and cameras with cellular connectivity such as the Samsung Galaxy camera will make their way into the hands of consumers. Open operating systems such as Android will be implemented in cameras so that they can benefit from innovative apps built by independent app developers. Samsung has already put their stake in the ground and there is no question that they will continue to move down the road of connected cameras and cameras with open operating systems.

    There are other vendors such as Sony which can benefit from the synergies that can be built between their phone and camera divisions. So far, those synergies have benefited the recently launched Sony Xperia Z smartphone which was announced at CES earlier in the month. Sony’s NEX-5R which was announced ahead of Photokina last year has the facility to download apps. However, it is a closed operating system and only Sony apps from the Play Memories store can be downloaded. It will be interesting to see if Sony will announce cameras with open operating systems in the coming year.

    Technology markets change rapidly and this is true for the camera market. Smartphones are a disruptive force that requires digital camera, photo printing, and on-line imaging vendors to up their game to stay relevant to consumers. I don’t believe copying smartphone features is the answer for digital camera vendors. Vendors need to develop a new generation of cameras and imaging services platforms that leverage the capabilities of dedicated cameras with mobility and cloud-based functions and services. The pace of camera innovation needs to pick up especially around connectivity and intelligence.

    For more insights check out InfoTrends 2012 Worldwide Consumer Digital Camera Forecast and Road Map 2013: Digital Photography Trends.

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