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Digital Camera Intros Lag Year Over Year, Reflecting Soft Demand

SAN DIEGO — It looks like digital camera vendors are acknowledging that the category is shrinking, according to new research from Gap Intelligence.

Gap’s latest report shows that in January and February 2014, new camera announcements accounted for 64 percent of the year’s total digital camera product launches (a total of 66 out of 103). Digital camera product launches during the first two months of 2015 totaled 49, showing a decline of 26 percent.

January launches are down 29 percent year on year (29 vs. 41), while February launches are down 20 percent (20 vs. 25).

By brand, Gap’s researched noted:

• Canon started the year out with a slight boost in its launches (12 vs. 10), due to expansionary additions to its Rebel and EOS 5D DSLR lines.

• Fujifilm began 2015 with a fewer number of launches (five vs. nine), tightening up its historically wide array of bridge offerings, while still showing its focus on updated rugged and mirrorless models.

• JK Imaging’s Kodak-brand launches slightly grew (8 vs. 6), boosting the Pixpro bridge line and adding a budget- friendly lens-style camera to its portfolio ($179 SL5).

• Nikon trimmed one ultra-compact announcement from its January schedule, while still using International CES to launch a mid/entry DSLR, and maintain a predictable seven-model refresh in February.

• Olympus delayed its 2015 launches until February, which declined by one bridge SKU, and illustrated a more deliberate approach to refreshing just rugged and mirrorless models.

• Panasonic’s 2015 announcements were boosted over 2014 (six vs. five), with an overdue refresh of its rugged SKUs that were originally new for the 2013 CES.

• Ricoh/Pentax’s February announcements slightly fell this year (two vs. three), but the brand chose to focus on one new DSLR model and only one rugged camera, compared with the family of three it launched in 2014.

• Samsung launched only one mirrorless NX-system camera this year, which is equal to its 2014 January/February segment involvement, but shows its complete disregard for point-and-shoot announcements (zero vs. six).

• Sony has yet to announce any cameras for 2015, a reduction from the nine that it launched during January/ February 2014.

January/February 2015 announcements for each segment of the digital camera market declined, with the exception of the DSLR, which grew 133 percent year on year (seven vs. three), due to Canon’s expansion and a Pentax launch.

The boost in DSLR announcements amid the total 26 percent reduction in January/February launches gives ILC models a combined share of 24 percent vs. the 15 percent they held in January/February 2014.

Gap said DSLR launches rose as a result of Canon splitting its Rebel series and offering additional high-end EOS 5D models with “jaw-dropping” 50.6-megapixel resolutions, setting a new threshold for the industry.

Mirrorless announcements fell 29 percent (five vs. seven), primarily due to Sony’s lack of involvement during January/February this year.

Bridge launches during January/February declined by 47 percent year on year (10 vs. 19), which is the biggest segment drop, and justified by the absence of announcements from Olympus, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony.

Compact camera launches contracted the least, with a 23 percent decline compared with 2014 (20 vs. 26), which is mostly a result of Canon’s reductions, as well as Samsung and Sony’s noninvolvement.

Ultra-compact camera announcements in January/ February 2015 fell 36 percent compared with last year (seven vs. 11), again as a result of Samsung and Sony not bringing any point-and-shoots into the market.