Here's an interesting story: "Nearly 19% of high-end cameras sold in October were digital cameras, according to leading marketing information provider NPD INTELECT. �High-end� refers to cameras sold for more than $50. Sales for the burgeoning category were up significantly over the same period last year, when only 7% of all cameras sold (above $50) were digital.

According to NPD INTELECT, digital cameras generated $677 million in sales from January through October 1999. This represents a 52.5% increase over sales for the first ten months of the prior year, which totaled $444 million.

One winner of the growth trend is the camera specialty store. Booming sales of digital cameras have created a windfall for the channel, which saw a 122% hike in dollar sales for digitals during the January through October period. Camera specialty stores now capture nearly one-third of total sales dollars for digital cameras.

Marketing the only digital cameras with floppy disk drives, Sony leads the race for market share. The company captured the lion’s share in both dollar and unit terms across all channels tracked by NPD INTELECT. In an examination of all channels, Olympus was next across the finish line in dollars and units. In the camera specialty channel alone, Nikon placed second to Sony in dollars and third in units. Though Nikon sold fewer units in the camera specialty channel than Sony or Olympus, Nikon’s higher priced digital models helped the company garner second place in dollars.

Brand Share: All Channels* October 1999

Brand Units Dollars
Sony 40.9% 50.4%
Olympus 20.3% 16.2%
Kodak 10.7% 10.5%
Nikon 6.8% 10.7%

*Channels include mass retailers/discount stores, electronics specialty stores and camera specialty stores.

A Snapshot of the Online Digital Camera User

Who is buying digital cameras? A separate survey fielded by NPD Online Research provides a profile of early adopters of digital camera technology. The online survey, conducted in October 1999, sampled 22,429 Web users. Forty-three percent of online respondents plan to purchase a camera in the next six months. Of those, seventy-two percent surveyed say they will choose digital. Fourteen percent of respondents already own a digital camera. Of Web users surveyed owning both digital and traditional analog cameras, 40% report a dramatic increase in overall image taking since going digital.

Digital cameras are changing the face of amateur photography. Nearly half (49%) of digital camera owners use them strictly for personal use: 38% post photographs on Web sites; 83% share them via e-mail; and one third create personalized merchandise including greeting cards, invitations and gifts such as mugs and mousepads. Digital camera users also make a mark on the photo processing and reprint businesses: 70% process photographs by using their computers.