The rise of the digital camera in the 21st century has been a remarkable success. However, as with virtually all technology, something comes along to cause a reversal back towards either the norm or a complete failure. Of course, we are talking about the stand-alone digital camera. The cause of the failure in this regard is the advent of the Smartphone, not photography. Today, something approaching 98% of all photographs taken are not with a stand-alone cameras but by another device, smartphone or tablet. So little wonder we see the chart below of annual digital camera production from the main Japanese companies as collated by CIPA Japan.
Another year begins in the Digital Camera Market and a critical year it could turn out to be. Over at Petapixel, they have a story of the demise of yet another big camera store that failed. They also released an article showing that in 2016, 98.4% of all consumer cameras sold were Smartphones. After the production problems of 2016, we need to see the strong close to the year continuing into 2017 to feel that the industry is not heading for oblivion.
Predictions for 2017 are down again, for a look at the figures see global digital camera market predictions 2017. At the end of 2016, overall stand-alone camera sales as recorded by CIPA were back to the early 1990’s in numbers sold. This might not be too bad considering, but back then I am sure there was a lot more margin for the retailer when selling a camera. We can't go back to having all those small specialist camera shops that we had back then. So we are reliant on the internet or large store chains to sell them. How long will they want to continue in the market the way it is going?
- Overall Camera shipments down just -1.7% year-on-year
- Mirrorless Cameras shipments up 48.3%
- Unit trend shows signs of leveling off
January traditionally is a low month in camera shipments following the main push for the winter holiday period. As production recovers, we saw that December was better than usual. Would January continue the recovery, or would it peter out and the market continue to slide?
Would we see an end to the route on Compact fixed lens cameras?
- Total shipments of Digital Cameras to decline -10.3% year-on-year
- Built in lens cameras to decline -16.7% year-on-year
- Interchangeable lens cameras to decline -3.4% year-on-year
CIPA the Japanese Camera and Imaging Products Association has again released its predictions for next year's shipments, 2017. These show a steady decline in both major types by -10.3% to 21.7 million units. Built-in lens or ‘compact’ cameras again taking the largest fall of -16.7% to 10.5 million units. Interchangeable lens cameras to fall by -3.4% to 11.2 million units.
Results vs Predictions for 2016
At the beginning of 2016 the predictions for camera shipments were a decline of -12.4% in total camera units. Cameras with built-in lenses were due to fall -16.7% and Interchangeable lens cameras were to fall -5.3%. So how accurate were these predictions?
The total shipment of digital cameras in 2016 was 24.2 million units. This was split between built-in-lens cameras at 12.6 million units and Interchangeable lens cameras at 11.6 million units. Year-on-year this is a total fall of -31.7%, built-in lens cameras fell by -43.7% and interchangeable lens cameras by -11.1%.