By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
In a twist on the old saying that there's always room at the top, both Canon and Kodak have claimed a spot atop the U.S. digital camera market, pointing to differing market share reports that place them in the coveted lead.
According to Framingham, Mass.-based research firm IDC, Kodak was on top, shipping 4.8 million, or 21.9-percent of all consumer point-and-shoot digital cameras in the United States throughout 2004. The numbers do not include sales of digital SLRs. IDC placed Sony second with 19.4 percent and Canon third with 16.1 percent of the market.
IDC also claimed that Kodak was the fastest-growing brand among market leaders, with a 66 percent year-over-year increase in units shipped.
Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD argued a more complicated storyline. Canon was the top vendor in the research firm's point-of-sale unit share data, earning a 20.4 percent share (including sales of digital SLRs). Here, too, Sony placed second with 17.8 percent of the market and Kodak was third with 17 percent.
In NPD's consumer panel data, however, Kodak was the top vendor with a 21.1 percent share of the market. Canon placed second with 14.4 percent of the market, and Sony placed third with 13.8 percent.
According to Ross Rubin, industry analysis director, NPD, no single data set tells the whole story. “You can get a level of refinement and specificity with the point of sale data that you can't get with the consumer data. On the other hand, the consumer data, since it encompasses all channels, is more wholistic.”
The conflicting reports center around research methodology. IDC tracks vendor shipments to dealers, NPD tracks vendor sell-through in its point of sale data as well as consumer purchases in its consumer panel data.
According to Chris Chute, senior analyst, IDC, the firm's methods are more comprehensive because they can account for all sales channels, whereas NPD's point-of-sale data is lacking several major mass merchants, such as Wal-Mart.
Rubin countered that his firm has “good models” to account for the lack of Wal-Mart and that consumer panel data can capture the mass market customers.
Both research firms were in agreement on one issue: Sony, which had held the No. 1 position since the market's inception, was no longer on top.
If the fight for slices of the pie is fierce, at least vendors can console themselves that the pie is still enjoying double-digit growth. IDC noted a total of over 22.3 million cameras were shipped in 2004, up 36 percent from 2003 when 16.4 million units were shipped.
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