MFT shipments down

Started Apr 26, 2013 | Discussions thread
Eamon Hickey
Veteran MemberPosts: 3,160
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mirrorless ILC market should not be saturated yet
In reply to Marty4650, May 4, 2013

Marty4650 wrote:

Like any new technology the biggest growth is during the first year, until everyone who wants one has one.

Often the biggest rate of growth is early, but that's partly a mathematical quirk -- it's easy to achieve impressive growth rates when you're starting from zero.

Then, after that, you only have new users coming on and replacement models for upgrades.The same thing happened for TVs, computers, and other electronic devices. Once everyone who wants one has one, the only sales left are for replacements.

Most consumer product markets don't saturate in just two or three years. DSLR sales, for example, have grown every year for more than a decade (except maybe the year following the financial collapse -- not sure of my memory on that). They just keep going up. (This year may be different.) Compact digital camera sales grew every year from about 1995 to 2008 or so before they effectively leveled off (and they have been falling quickly for the last three years or so -- that market is indeed saturated, and now shrinking in the face of disruptive competition from smartphones).

I don't know the figures for smartphones, but I'd be amazed if they haven't grown significantly every year for the past 7 or 8 years, including the year following the financial collapse.

The total unit market size for mirrorless ILC cameras is still far below the unit market size for mirrored ILC cameras (i.e. DSLRs). There's no reason why mirrorless can't achieve similar or higher unit numbers. Indeed, at the introduction of the m4/3rds format, Panasonic predicted that within 5-10 years the total unit market for ILC cameras would near 30 million units per year. I was skeptical, but I now think Panasonic will probably turn out to be right. The ILC unit market is now just about 20 million units per year (as opposed to about 12 million when Panasonic made their prediction). Last year, mirrorless ILC shipments were 4 million units, as opposed to 16 million DSLRs.

In other words, there's still plenty of room for mirrorless growth. It shouldn't stall out at 4 million units annually. I don't think it will. I think there's little doubt that it will eventually overtake DSLR unit sales (although I expect there will still be a healthy business in DSLRs for many, many years).

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