Growth days are over. The only road to survival for camera makers is the smartphone

Started 11 months ago | Discussions
sportyaccordy
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Growth days are over. The only road to survival for camera makers is the smartphone
11 months ago

The bottom fell out of the compact camera market. The bottom is falling out of the low end DSLR market. MILC cameras haven't caught on like people thought, no matter how popular MFT is here. High end sales seem healthy based on the increasing number of releases there, but that volume isn't enough to make up for the lost ground.

Smartphones on the other hand....

Billions of units and counting.

"B-b-but a smartphone can't replace a REAL camera"

Oh but it has, billions of times, often many times over for the same person. Whatever photographic control was lost was trumped by the added functionality and consolidation of the smartphone.

"Camera manufacturers cant make phones"

See: Sony, Samsung

"Margins will be lower"

How much of a margin does a manufacturer see on products nobody buys?

Not to mention, while I am sure many folks carry their best cameras at all times, I personally like to keep a low profile and not have too many devices on me unless I am on vacation or going somewhere picturesque. However sometimes you see something snapshot worthy and having a half decent camera in the phone would be nice. I am sure plenty of folks would pay hundreds of dollars for a CaNikon branded smartphone (especially with Android OS).

I'm not going to make any hard predictions but I just don't see camera manufacturers surviving on FF cameras and high end compacts. The manufacturers we will see decades from now will be the ones who adapt to the changing market- and FAST- as things have seemed to take a nosedive this year.

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EthanP99
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Re: Growth days are over. The only road to survival for camera makers is the smartphone
In reply to sportyaccordy, 11 months ago

I guess we know who the real survivor will be (I have one)

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gloaming
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Re: Growth days are over. The only road to survival for camera makers is the smartphone
In reply to sportyaccordy, 11 months ago

we'll know smart phones have arrived optically when they can do this, hand-held, with the subject atop a utility pole some 40 meters away:

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dinoSnake
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Re: Growth days are over. The only road to survival for camera makers is the smartphone
In reply to sportyaccordy, 11 months ago

Your post offers food for thought but you should note that there is more to the camera market than just Europe and the United States; Asia's market is doing somewhat better than ours and, in regards to your post, mILC owns almost 40% of that market already.  So mILC *has* done fairly well...just not here.

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Ontario Gone
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Re: Growth days are over. The only road to survival for camera makers is the smartphone
In reply to sportyaccordy, 11 months ago

Your data doesnt mention how many people buy a smartphone because of non photo reasons. Not one person i know shops phones based on the camera, its all about media like netflix, youtube, and how nice the screen is to view it on.

The first specs i look at on a new phone are processor speed, ram, screen resolution/size, and batter capacity.

If my phone had no camera, i would still own it. I dont see that factor represented in your quasi data. Obvious troll, probably another phone app dev trying to generate sales.

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edispics
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Nope, not really.
In reply to sportyaccordy, 11 months ago

Take a look at the photos in the link in this post and then tell me how many of these photos could be taken with a smartphone.

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/52699139

Not that many. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. There have always been folks perfectly happy with the "Brownie" and the pictures it can take, and there always will be. But there have always been folks who have wanted a little bit more, and there always will be. Smartphones are evolving, but so too are single-purpose cameras.

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pavi1
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Re: Growth days are over. The only road to survival for camera makers is the smartphone
In reply to sportyaccordy, 11 months ago

The camera in a smart phone cost pennies. If you are right, there will be no camera companies in a few years. That leaves only one answer, you will never be a CEO at a camera company.

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Aberaeron
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Re: Growth days are over. The only road to survival for camera makers is the smartphone
In reply to sportyaccordy, 11 months ago

The market will go where the market leads. The consumer has a choice and a general income and feel-good factor that dictates how much they spend on luxuries, if anything.  Large areas of the globe have been in an economic depression, or stagnation at best, and this has impacted the sale of electronic luxury goods probably more than any other sector. The economy WILL recover and people will spend again. To be honest though, they are still spending but in a more moderate and focussed way. Exponential sales growth forever more is not realistic, but reasonably stable sales volume should be. When the 'next big thing' appears, then the sale of that product will exponentially grow until either the market for it becomes saturated or something more attractive comes along. Remember the Netbook computer? Sales of these rocketed for three or four years and then suddenly died a sudden death at the hands of tablet computers. I don't expect the camera market to behave in quite the same way.

But why should we, the consumer care? We will buy whatever is the most attractive product at the time. Or not, if it is more attractive to keep money to save or spend on more important things.

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sportyaccordy
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Re: Growth days are over. The only road to survival for camera makers is the smartphone
In reply to Ontario Gone, 11 months ago

Ontario Gone wrote:

Your data doesnt mention how many people buy a smartphone because of non photo reasons. Not one person i know shops phones based on the camera, its all about media like netflix, youtube, and how nice the screen is to view it on.

The first specs i look at on a new phone are processor speed, ram, screen resolution/size, and batter capacity.

If my phone had no camera, i would still own it. I dont see that factor represented in your quasi data. Obvious troll, probably another phone app dev trying to generate sales.

If nobody cared about the IQ of smartphone cameras why do companies like Samsung, Apple and Nokia keep improving them?

And I just bought a phone last week. The camera wasn't a priority. I bought based on performance and value (I only had a ~$200 budget and didn't want a contract). My phone only has a 5MP/720P camera but it gets the job done if I need it to. And that is the case for most people. Most folks are taking good light snapshots and posting them to Facebook or Instagram so the added IQ of a "real" camera is of little value to them.

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Mark B.
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Re: Growth days are over. The only road to survival for camera makers is the smartphone
In reply to sportyaccordy, 11 months ago

sportyaccordy wrote:

Billions of units and counting.

"B-b-but a smartphone can't replace a REAL camera"

Oh but it has, billions of times, often many times over for the same person. Whatever photographic control was lost was trumped by the added functionality and consolidation of the smartphone.

"Camera manufacturers cant make phones"

See: Sony, Samsung

"Margins will be lower"

What about these:

"I can't attach my 500mm f/4 lens to a smartphone"

"A smartphone can't keep up with AF when I'm shooting birds, race cars, or any other quick object at 7fps"

"A smartphone can't match low-light/high ISO that I get from my DSLR"

"I can't wirelessly trigger 3-4 speedlites and control the output"

To name a few.

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sportyaccordy
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Re: Growth days are over. The only road to survival for camera makers is the smartphone
In reply to gloaming, 11 months ago

gloaming wrote:

we'll know smart phones have arrived optically when they can do this, hand-held, with the subject atop a utility pole some 40 meters away:

Your (and the industry's) mistake is thinking that the way to win the public over is through dazzling IQ. Or that the average consumer's typical photograph is of a bird 40 meters away. In other words you are projecting your personal photographic needs and preferences as indicative of some general trend. That's just not the case. People typically photograph moments and subjects of some personal significance, and value being able to do so and share it quickly. Smartphones let them do that way faster than any dedicated camera.

Plus again many of the folks who want DSLRs already have them. A 5 year old DSLR can take the same picture ~90% as well as a brand new one. So where is the incentive for Joe Sixpack to continually upgrade? This isn't a question of whether smartphones are optically on the level of DSLRs. I don't think that will ever be the case. This is a question of whether IQ can trump connectivity, convenience and consolidation for the average consumer. The market says... HELL no. And with the speed things change manufacturers can't afford to wait.

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sportyaccordy
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Re: Growth days are over. The only road to survival for camera makers is the smartphone
In reply to Mark B., 11 months ago

Mark B. wrote:

sportyaccordy wrote:

Billions of units and counting.

"B-b-but a smartphone can't replace a REAL camera"

Oh but it has, billions of times, often many times over for the same person. Whatever photographic control was lost was trumped by the added functionality and consolidation of the smartphone.

"Camera manufacturers cant make phones"

See: Sony, Samsung

"Margins will be lower"

What about these:

"I can't attach my 500mm f/4 lens to a smartphone"

"A smartphone can't keep up with AF when I'm shooting birds, race cars, or any other quick object at 7fps"

"A smartphone can't match low-light/high ISO that I get from my DSLR"

"I can't wirelessly trigger 3-4 speedlites and control the output"

To name a few.

What % of camera consumers care about any of this? What % of consumers have a 500 f/4? What % of consumers have 1 speedlite, let alone 3-4? Will an entry level trigger those speedlites or keep focus on those fast objects? Will a low end kit lens be able to take advantage of that high iso capability? None of these features are relevant to the average consumer, which is why they don't have 500 F/4s, 4 speed lights or bodies with high burst rates and high focal point count AF systems. And in any case, who said anything about a smart phone ever having these kinds of capabilities anyway?

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Ontario Gone
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Re: Growth days are over. The only road to survival for camera makers is the smartphone
In reply to sportyaccordy, 11 months ago

sportyaccordy wrote:

Not to mention, while I am sure many folks carry their best cameras at all times, I personally like to keep a low profile...

Yes, Kai from DigitalRev makes repeated comments on "silent" cameras and how one can be a "perv" with sneaky photo taking, i on the other hand don't mind too much if people are aware of my camera. There is no law against me taking shots in public areas, i don't need to hide behind my cell phone snapping photos of unsuspecting subjects. On the other hand, i hear laptops are surging and will soon replace everything elseĀ 

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Ontario Gone
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Re: Growth days are over. The only road to survival for camera makers is the smartphone
In reply to sportyaccordy, 11 months ago

sportyaccordy wrote:

What % of camera consumers care about any of this? What % of consumers have a 500 f/4? What % of consumers have 1 speedlite, let alone 3-4? Will an entry level trigger those speedlites or keep focus on those fast objects? Will a low end kit lens be able to take advantage of that high iso capability? None of these features are relevant to the average consumer, which is why they don't have 500 F/4s, 4 speed lights or bodies with high burst rates and high focal point count AF systems. And in any case, who said anything about a smart phone ever having these kinds of capabilities anyway?

What % of phones can support full versions of photoshop, lightroom, or any other third party software? What % have the processing power, or ram capacity, to batch process hundreds of shots at a time? All of this is possible on laptops, and as many are aware of, laptops are surging in the market due to cameras built in. There are many graphs showing the increase of laptops in sales, obviously due to the cameras being built in. It is only a matter of time before laptops replace the camera and cell phone, do to the "all in one" nature of a computer. "good enough" imaging, full support for editing, connectivity for social media. The cell phone and DSLR are living on borrowed time my friend.

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sportyaccordy
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Re: Growth days are over. The only road to survival for camera makers is the smartphone
In reply to Ontario Gone, 11 months ago

Ontario Gone wrote:

sportyaccordy wrote:

What % of camera consumers care about any of this? What % of consumers have a 500 f/4? What % of consumers have 1 speedlite, let alone 3-4? Will an entry level trigger those speedlites or keep focus on those fast objects? Will a low end kit lens be able to take advantage of that high iso capability? None of these features are relevant to the average consumer, which is why they don't have 500 F/4s, 4 speed lights or bodies with high burst rates and high focal point count AF systems. And in any case, who said anything about a smart phone ever having these kinds of capabilities anyway?

What % of phones can support full versions of photoshop, lightroom, or any other third party software? What % have the processing power, or ram capacity, to batch process hundreds of shots at a time? All of this is possible on laptops, and as many are aware of, laptops are surging in the market due to cameras built in. There are many graphs showing the increase of laptops in sales, obviously due to the cameras being built in. It is only a matter of time before laptops replace the camera and cell phone, do to the "all in one" nature of a computer. "good enough" imaging, full support for editing, connectivity for social media. The cell phone and DSLR are living on borrowed time my friend.

This is a pretty silly attempt at satire, considering the fact that laptop sales have been down and are getting cannibalized by tablets. Just like you don't need a FF sensor and 8fps to take family snapshots, you don't need an i7 processor and a 1TB SSD to surf the web. Joe Sixpack wants convenience and tools built around what he does like anyone else. So you get an A for effort but an F for whatever point you were trying to make.

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pavi1
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Re: Growth days are over. The only road to survival for camera makers is the smartphone
In reply to sportyaccordy, 11 months ago

sportyaccordy wrote:

What % of camera consumers care about any of this?

The % is irrelevant. As long as millions want these things, the DSLR will exist.

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sportyaccordy
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Re: Growth days are over. The only road to survival for camera makers is the smartphone
In reply to Ontario Gone, 11 months ago

Ontario Gone wrote:

sportyaccordy wrote:

Not to mention, while I am sure many folks carry their best cameras at all times, I personally like to keep a low profile...

Yes, Kai from DigitalRev makes repeated comments on "silent" cameras and how one can be a "perv" with sneaky photo taking, i on the other hand don't mind too much if people are aware of my camera. There is no law against me taking shots in public areas, i don't need to hide behind my cell phone snapping photos of unsuspecting subjects. On the other hand, i hear laptops are surging and will soon replace everything else

It's not so much the sound as it is just the physical presence of a big DSLR. If I am at a party or something I don't want to have a big camera out making everyone feel uncomfortable. A smaller camera lets people's guards down.

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Bill Robb
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Re: Growth days are over. The only road to survival for camera makers is the smartphone
In reply to Ontario Gone, 11 months ago

We've been in somewhat of a recession for the past 8 years or so. One of the first things that suffer during recessions is discretionary purchases. Cameras are discretionary purchases. Extrapolating that the camera business is doomed based on recessionary flat sales is an example of not looking at the big picture.

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mgd43
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Re: Growth days are over. The only road to survival for camera makers is the smartphone
In reply to Ontario Gone, 11 months ago

Camera sales are down, I believe , for two reasons. One is camera phones and the other is that the digital camera market is now mostly a mature market where it was a growing market. Camera phones have their limits. When used within their limits they  are good enough for casual photographers and even for some more serious photographers. Camera phones use tiny sensors, have only a digital zoom, are relatively slow to focus, do not follow movement as well as some cameras, and have no viewfinder. Because of these limits there will continue to be a market for stand alone cameras among more serious photographers, and even among some casual photographers who want better than what they get from their phone. My wife for example uses her phone for snapshots of the grandchildren, but when she travels she uses a bridge camera. The same is true for many people we know.

The second factor is that the digital camera market is now a mature market. Markets consist of additions to the market (new buyers) and replacements.  With new products you get a lot of additions to the market. As the market becomes more and more saturated, additions to the market slow down. That's what is happening now. Just about everyone who wants a digital camera has one. Now the market depends more on replacements. Sales of replacements have slowed, I believe, because the cameras many if not most people now own is good enough that they feel no need to replace it. This is especially true for casual photographers which may explain why entry level DSLR sales are slowing more than the higher end DSLR's that appeal to more serious photographers who are more likely to want the latest and best cameras.

I cannot say how much of the decline in camera sales is due to camera phones and how much is due to a maturing digital camera market. I do know that trends do not continue forever, so one cannot assume that the current trends will continue forever.

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gloaming
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Re: Growth days are over. The only road to survival for camera makers is the smartphone
In reply to sportyaccordy, 11 months ago

Are you not commiting the same error, if an error it is? You are generalizing to an audience that does do photography of the kind I demonstrated, who are motivated to do so, and who will continue to spend in that market for that capability. Why would you conclude that the advent of a smart phone will have millions of people dropping their interests and pursuing social and street imaging?

Both instruments offer applications of autonomy. In a given populationi, you will have those whose chief motivation is to 'belong', or to be accepted or included. They flock to what is trendy. Smart phones are trendy. One only has to look at couples texting across from each other in restaurants, but conversing with people who aren't there. Selfie!!

Some of us are more outward looking, or enjoy the solitude and quite of nature over the conditions of the streets. While there is no mutual exclusivity, the preponderance of people who enjoy nature, distant vistas, or finding hard-to-reach places are likely to want to bring along a highly capable and compact imaging system. Right now, I and others who have my capability don't seem to feel that a smart phone offers us what our other appliances do. It may change, perhaps quickly, but I don't see the market for more capable imaging systems being reduced all that much in the near term.

Finally, you mentioned 5-year old DSLRs.  Those who want the latest gee-whiz phone, and they are legion, are the same who will want to retain their enthusiasm in the dedicated camera market.  I have purchased two cameras in the past three years, and will likely purchase my first ever DSLR next year.  With the world's population burgeoning , we are not likely to see more than relative sizes change, but the markets' absolute values in terms of sales will likely continue to rise in both cases.

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