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NPD: Digital Camera Sales in '99 Topped $1B For First Time

Digital camera sales topped $1 billion for the first time in 1999, with Sony grabbing almost half of all dollar sales, according to a study from NPD Intelect, Port Washington, N.Y. The PMA reported that figure will climb this year, with 2 million digital cameras expected to be sold.

Last year's $1.04 billion windfall has digital camera sales comprising 36% of all camera dollar sales, on 1.8 million units sold last year, up from 26% in 1998.

Sony -- with 47.2% of the dollar brand share in 1999, up from 42.3% in 1998 -- stayed at the top of the digital camera market, far outpacing second-place Olympus' 17.3%, which lost two points from 1998. According to the NPD study, Sony also kept control of the digital camcorder market in 1999, with a dominating 67.5% of the dollar shares market.

Kodak did not fare well in 1999, dropping 6 points to 13.1%, but the company still managed to hold off Nikon for third place.

Despite Nikon's in-ability to move up, the company doubled its dollar share in 1999, ending at 7.4%.

Polaroid's flooding of the mass merchant channel with inexpensive digital cameras helped place the company in fifth place with a 3.1% share. This is the first time Polaroid made NPD's list.

Neil Portnoy, NPD senior account manager for imaging, sees no end to the growth of this category. "I expect the growth of digital camera sales to continue as price points stabilize," he said, adding that the growing popularity of digital cameras is actually having a positive effect on 35mm and SLR cameras. Sales of these two grew 25% in 1999.

Photo specialty retailers also realize this fact. According to a PMA Industry Trends study, 80.3% intend to increase the emphasis they put on digital cameras in their stores.

Digital cameras are only a part of the sales equation for the photo retailer. The PMA found that 80% owned an in-store digital-imaging kiosk such as Kodak's Picture Maker or Fuji's Aladdin. Retailers reported that the kiosks add repeated incremental profits and are part of the overall consumer trend to do something with their digital images.

About 70% of customers interested in digital services, such as Internet upload or burning the images to CD-R media, are repeat customers, a Salomon Smith Barney study found.

NPD's digital camcorder top-five list remained unchanged in 1999, with the same companies holding down the same positions. However, Sony's stranglehold on the category knocked down other companies' individual shares.

JVC ended 1999 with a 22.2% share, down from 34.2% the previous year, while Canon suffered an eight-point loss, ending with a 4.8% share.

Panasonic was the only company to not lose share last year and actually posted an incremental 0.1% gain to end with 4.5% of the dollar market. Sharp garnered just 0.1% of the market in 1999, down from the 1% it held in 1998.

Overall, NPD found that digital camcorders also posted huge gains in 1999, ending the year with 6% of the overall camcorder market on sales of $532 million, up from the $93.2 million posted in 1998.

Digital cameras comprised less than 1% of camcorder sales in 1998.