Digital Camera Sales Soar Past $1 Billion

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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, NY.

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 still managed to hold off Nikon for third place. Despite Nikon's inability 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.

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 the other companies' individual shares.

JVC ended 1999 with 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 all but faded away garnering 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 in1999 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.

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