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.
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%.
Looking at these figures it's clear the predictions were ‘way out’. Of course, there are a few reasons why 2016 was a bad year for the camera industry. Factors such as the damage done to component production by the Kumamoto Earthquake, the general market decline and slowing growth in both home and world markets as well as competition from smartphones and other devices. However, there are some more worrying signs.
The component shortage really only affected the built-in lens cameras and most of the CSC and DSLR types do not appear to have been unduly affected. So it is worrying that the fall in shipments of these cameras was more than twice the prediction. The industry did see a much stronger 4th quarter going some way to claw back the lost sales of the previous months. With the predictions for 2017 showing further falls this recovery looks to be short-lived.
Given that the current trend for compact (built-in-lens) cameras is heading for ‘oblivion' by 2018, we need to see a sustainable upturn to avoid such a fete. We have seen an levelling but even the optimistic CIPA think things we will revert to type and unit shipments will fall again in 2017.
So my prediction is that compact cameras will see a further fall of at least 25% in 2017. Interchangeable lens cameras will sink about 10% this year overall. This will be mainly DSLRs with Mirrorless (CSC’s) remaining neutral. I hope I am wrong.