Infotrends: The robust digital camera market is starting to change the face of photography in America, according to a new forecast report from InfoTrends Research Group, Inc. Digital camera unit sales will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 38% through 2003, reaching over 6 million units in North America. In 1999, revenues will grow 35% to nearly $1.2 billion.

Digital photography is gradually on its way to becoming a mainstream consumer pastime, with the advent of true photo-quality 2 million pixel cameras, low-cost toy and teen cameras, and high quality, affordable printing. Over the next five years, the foundations will be laid that will guide photography throughout the next millennium. The mainstream market will begin to undergo significant change in the way pictures are captured, printed, used and stored. In fact, many of today's youth may never own a film camera.

Digital cameras' emerging popularity is attributed to the vastly improved photography experience they afford, through instant viewing, deletion, annotation, and control over reprint size and quantity. Over the course of the forecast period, digital cameras will become as easy to use as film cameras. For prints, users will drop off camera storage cards at one-hour minilabs to get high quality photo prints, or use their home-based printer. For sharing, they will use Web TV appliances to upload images to their online photo albums and email their friends. Their images will be annotated with voice clips and even motion clips. Such capabilities are available today, but usage is still in the early adopter stage. Mainstream consumer use is expected to increase dramatically as prices fall and elements of the digital photography infrastructure fall into place.

Current consumer demand for digital cameras is being driven by increasing PC penetration, Internet connectivity and flatbed scanner adoption. U.S. PC household penetration has reached 50%, according to InfoTrends' 11/98 "Digital Camera Penetration Survey Report"; 60% of those households access the Internet, and 18% have a scanner. "These key factors, coupled with aggressively-priced digital cameras, will spur market growth through this five-year forecast period," says Michelle Lampmann, market research analyst, InfoTrends Research Group, Inc. "Nearly 45% of digital cameras sold in 1999 will be purchased by consumers, primarily for personal use in the home."

The new report "1999 Digital Camera Forecast North America" sizes the low end market, outlines key vendors and trends, and projects unit shipments, revenues and price declines through 2003.