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IDC: Worldwide Digicam Shipments up 71 Percent

FRAMINGHAM, MASS. — The latest numbers from research firm IDC confirm what the industry has known for several years now: Digital cameras are surging, and Sony has continued to beat back challengers to retain its market dominance.

According to IDC, worldwide shipments of consumer digital still cameras hit 47.9 million units in 2003, a blistering growth rate of 71 percent over the 28 million units shipped globally in 2002.

In the U.S. market, unit shipments hit 16.4 million in 2003, and IDC expects that to grow to roughly 21 million in 2004.

Once again Sony was the top vendor worldwide and in the United States.

Globally, Sony successfully fended off Canon’s advance, holding its No. 1 market share spot with 18 percent of the market. Canon finished second with 16 percent of the market, up from third place in 2002 with 15 percent. Olympus placed third with 13 percent of the market, and Kodak bounced Fujifilm from the four spot with 12 percent of worldwide shipments to Fujifilm’s 11.6 percent, a drop of roughly three percentage points from 2002.

The U.S. story closely mirrored the global story. Sony finished atop the heap with 22 percent of the unit shipments. Kodak placed second with 18 percent, and Canon finished third with 15 percent.

According to Chris Chute, senior analyst, IDC, Sony’s continued success was due in part to aggressively responding to challengers by pouring more dollars into its marketing effort.

“Sony took the Kodak and Canon challenges seriously,” Chute said.

As for Canon, which in 2003 was vigorously pursuing the top spot in the U.S., Chute said the company’s 2004 strategy mirrors Olympus’ of several years back: flood the market with products at every price point.

The gambit could work, Chute said, but it is not without risks.

“Olympus tried it and ended up with a lot of leftover inventory, which ate into profits,” Chute said.