Industry Sees Camera Growth Continuing
By Greg Tarr On Jan 6 2011 - 5:01am
LAS VEGAS —
Despite a relatively saturated U.S. penetration
rate, digital camera sales enjoyed a year that was
among one of the consumer electronics industry’s healthiest
in 2010, and industry observers expect more of the
same in the year ahead.
According to U.S. camera sales estimates from Chris
Chute of IDC Research, the compact digital still camera
category saw 2 percent growth in 2010 to around 36 million
units, while d-SLRs were expected to finish out the year with
a 27 percent growth rate to 3 million units.
Chute said, “Memory-making-machines have survived the
digital age, and the recession and have bounded back better
than we had forecast last year, even compacts. Consumer
fascination with photography, as well as the availability
of inexpensive PCs, software and online communities, have
made high-end photography more accessible than ever.”
Among the key trends to look for in 2011, Chute said, are
for the new mirrorless interchangeable-lens (MIL) category
“to really take off behind the arrival of another entrant, Sony,
and heavy marketing support. HD video recording will become
more and more prevalent in the compact camera segments,
as will waterproofing from Sony, Nikon and others.
3D capability and other gyro-sensor features will become
increasingly prevalent in more manufacturers lines this year.”
The burgeoning MIL business, meanwhile, was on target
to close the year with a whopping 500 percent growth rate
to around 300,000 units, said IDC’s Chute.
“But The NPD Group’s recently released study ‘The
Next Camera’ shows that even among consumers who expressed
high interest in mirrorless hybrid cameras, a $500
price point posed a strong barrier, followed by a concern
that they would lose some of the features available on a traditional
d-SLR,” said Liz Cutting, NPD consumer products
imaging analyst executive director. “The three main priorities
among those who would be interested in a mirrorless hybrid
were picture quality, quality of the lenses, and the ability to
take photos quickly, as spontaneous moments occur.”
As for digicams in general, Chute sees a solid year ahead,
with U.S. sales of almost 40 million in 2011 with d-SLRs
and compact interchangeable-lens cameras making up 11
percent of the total.
Cutting said d-SLR sales growth should continue, supported
by a relatively low household penetration of just 11
percent. The success of d-SLRs in 2010 helped lift industry
profitability to 4 percent despite a 2 percent overall camera
unit decline, according to NPD estimates.
“Where in the past the d-SLR category was driven by
older males, the new demographics include an increasing
amount of women,” Cutting observed. “With promotional
campaigns and new products like mirrorless hybrids, we’re
sure to see more buzz generating around the entire segment
Point-and-shoot cameras, meanwhile, were down 5 percent
in both units and dollars in 2010, but “we saw a continuation
of the move to longer zoom cameras, particularly slim
zooms 10x and above, which have grown from 3 percent to
12 percent of compact dollars,” said Cutting.
“While Panasonic owned this segment two years ago,
today, Sony, Canon, Kodak and Nikon all have double-digit
unit share, and the price point has declined by only $8 to
$275,” she continued.
As for HD video recording in cameras, Cutting said
Canon and Sony both led the charge in 2009, joined in double-digit share in 2010 by both Nikon and
NPD’s Cutting said, “In both detachable lens
and compact cameras, HD video capture has
been a huge shift. From year-to-date October
2009 to 2010, HD video presence in compact
cameras tripled from 12 percent to 36 percent,
helping to stabilize the overall compact camera
average price, which is flat at $165.”
In detachable-lens cameras, HD video went
from 28 percent to 64 percent of unit share, she
added. 1080p-capable detachable-lens models
grew from 12 percent to 34 percent while 720p
grew from 12 percent to 34 percent.
“Canon has dominated the 1080p HD video
scene among detachable-lens cameras, with
Nikon onboarding two models in the fall of 2010
and hitting 23 percent of 1080p-capable detachable-
lens cameras in October 2010,” Cutting said.
Meanwhile, according to NPD, a 720p HD
video capable compact camera carried a $224
average selling price, as of October 2010 (year
to date). Nearly all compact cameras that record
HD video are 720p (2 percent were 1080p with
an average price of $382).
As for the growth of camera models with 3D
capability, IDC’s Chute said 3D will amount to
“little more than a niche camera segment in 2011.”
NPD’s Cutting agreed, adding that NPD’s 3D
360 Monitor “showed less than 5 percent of consumers
are even aware of 3D digital cameras.
Yet about a third stated they’d be interested in
recording personal memories in 3D. Certain
parts of the population will be more likely to get
enthused about 3D — younger consumers and
gamers are part of this set. Consumers are more
likely to be thrilled by 3D up close and personal,
with their own content.”
She suggested that more in-store displays
enabling “eyes on” personal experiences should
whet consumer appetites for a 3D capture device
of their own.
As for brand share battles, Cutting said that
Nikon stayed relatively flat in dollars at 26 percent
in 2010, while Canon gained two points to 37
percent in dollar share from year-to-date October
2009 to 2010.
“Canon has grown its share specifically in d-
SLRs, particularly in the 1080p arena,” Cutting
“The mirrorless hybrid players hit 7 percent of detachable-lens camera units in July, August and
September and around 5 percent in dollar share,
but seem to have an additive effect as opposed
As MIL models grow, some share is likely to
come from the d-SLR category, where Canon and
Nikon rule the roost, but neither company has yet
announced plans to offer a MIL model or equivalent
of their own to stave off the new challenge.
In the meantime, Chute said, “Sony has emerged
as a stronger player this year, challenging Canon
and Nikon. Canon has shown some general softening
across their unit share in the states.”
The likely result, he added, will be for the increased
brand advertising and promotional campaigns
seen in 2010 to continue behind key product
introductions throughout the year ahead.
“The marketing that emerged earlier this year
will continue well into 2011,” he said.