Where is the industry heading - some thoughts.

Started 9 months ago | Discussions thread
GeraldW
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Re: Where is the industry heading - some thoughts.
In reply to justinwonnacott, 8 months ago

justinwonnacott wrote:

Justin,

You make some really good points, so I feel compelled to respond in a few areas.

In the last decade some important factors in the growth of digital camera sales are

a) the demise and obsolescence of silver based imaging and the requirement to replace those cameras if consumers wished to make photographs

b) the low cost per picture for digital cameras

c) the spread of cheap computers and internet connectivity that is available to nearly all consumers which is a pre-requisite for a digital camera purchase. The almost universal adoption of jpg as the standard for  picture exchange.

d) the high quality, ease of operation , small size and low light capabilities of most new cameras makes it possible to take pictures nearly anywhere without any special equipment or training. Autofocus and image stabilization has made the size of the "photographable" world much larger and consumers have rushed into that world to fill it up. Making photographs has never been easier.

e) social networking has created a demand for images far in excess of the numbers required in our culture 20 years ago.

f) the convergence of video  and stills

And the above pretty well applies to all cameras, point and shoot, dslr cameras, cell phones - whose progress and development has all been shaped by these trends.

The market for cameras is saturated. At this point nearly everyone  has a reasonably capable camera, everyone knows the basics of using it and everyone has a way to share the images they make with others. Selling second and third cameras to that mass market is never going to match the intensity of the boom that was fuelled by a major paradigm shift like silver to silicon.

All good points.  Although a couple of my elderly friends don't have computers and use kiosks at places like Walmart or Walgreens, and are delighted with the cost and quality.  But they don't take a lot of pictures.  I can't imagine standing there printing 600 4" x 6" for a photo album for my last trip.  Oh, my aching back!!!

So what then?

The pace of innovation will probably slow as a result of a decreased demand in the market unless some profoundly different and irresistible innovation comes along. I cannot imagine what that would be?

In a contracting market (related to the market being saturated) the competition for remaining share can become VERY intense.  It may actually speed up development.  You can't, any longer get away with token upgrades.

Manufacturers will be selling you more aftermarket stuff in addition to your camera, more and better lenses in many varieties to choose from - at higher prices too maybe. Cases, tripods, flashes will make you lunch and do the laundry. The gear that was once the sort of equipment a professional used will become marketed to amateurs . At lower prices and quality because of a much larger market than before. Softboxes, video rigs, light stands, monitors, storage and computer gear aimed at the home hobbyist's production "studio".

Camera stores will continue to die and maybe  phone retailers will sell dslr's? Or the camera shops will star to sell phones?

Our last independent store here died last year.  The closest chain store is a good half hour away and it's not that chain's most well stocked.

Possibly photofinishing will survive and develop new life as every print becomes a "custom print" and framing, presentation and books on demand become a part of a photofinishing operations repertoire.

Only a few amateurs will have printers larger than letter size.  Costs go up rapidly if you print 11" x 17" or larger.

The demand for professional photography and training of professionals will continue to collapse as generic images become almost valueless.

Sports, wedding, and spacial event (anniversary, Bar Mitzvah, birthdays, gradiation, etc.) will continus to be needed.  Also fashion and magazine art, photo journalism, will continue to be wanted; but maybe in lesser volumes as magazines and newspapers are dropping staff photographers and going to free-lancers.  Magazines and newspapers are also dying.  There is a need for catalog and packaging artwork, and somebody has to shoot the images on the net.

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Jerry

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