My first digital camera had all of 6-megapixels, a higher-end point-and-shoot option at the time. Now, the iPhone 5 has an 8-megapixel iSight camera, not to mention HD video recording and, oh yeah, you can talk to people. So what has the consolidation of high-quality devices into one phone meant for the point-and-shoot market? As you might guess it's not pretty, AFP reports:
Just as digital cameras all but destroyed the market for photographic film, the rapid shift to picture-taking smartphones has torn into a camera sector dominated by Japanese firms including Canon, Olympus, Sony and Nikon.
"We may be seeing the beginning of the collapse of the compact camera market," said Nobuo Kurahashi, analyst at Mizuho Investors Securities.
Figures from Japan's Camera and Imaging Products Association echo the analyst's grim prediction.
Global shipments of digital cameras among Japanese firms tumbled about 42 percent in September from a year ago to 7.58 million units, with compact offerings falling 48 percent, according to the Association.
Camera companies can blame those bad numbers partly on a Chinese ban of Japanese projects and a weakening European market, but that would be overlooking the major impact smartphones are having on the point-and-shoot market. Last December, for example, a report from NPD Group found that in the United States the percentage of photos taken with a smartphone increased from 17 percent in 2010 to 27 percent in 2011, a number that will only increase as camera technology advances in smartphones. Meanwhile, the share of photos taken with any camera fell from 52 percent to 44 percent.
But it's not all bad news for camera industry. While point-and-shoot cameras saw a major dip in sales, the market for high-end cameras with detachable lenes was only off 7.8 percent from last year. There is at least more of an interest from consumers in high-end cameras from photography hobbyists and professionals. Another survey this year from NPD Group found that 46 percent of U.S. consumers said they plan to spend more than $300 on their next camera purchase, up from 37 percent in 2010.
Still, innovation will be a must for the camera industry as it's quickly losing ground on a market that once appealed to a wider consumer base.
Photo: Flickr/Mel McC