Each year PTN takes a hard look at the state of the industry—how things have evolved over the past year, and where the industry is heading in the coming year. The overall outlook throughout 2007 has been positive. Many retailers, lab owners, distributors, and manufacturers have seen business pick up, and expect that growth to continue into 2008.
"Digital imaging is now enjoyed by an expanding demographic from younger to older. More people are discovering the ease with which they can use their images in new and exciting ways, creating a bright future with new opportunities," says Bing Liem, SVP Sales, Imaging Division, Fujifilm, U.S.A., Inc.
Machiko Ouchi, Executive Director, JPEAI presents the latest statistics from the Camera and Imaging Products Association, (CIPA) regarding shipments of digital still cameras:
"Early in 2007, CIPA of Japan forecast that digital still camera (DSC) shipments in 2007 would level off for Japan's domestic market while exports would grow 8.5% yearonyear in light of household penetration ratios exceeding 50% in major markets of Europe, N. America, and Japan.
"However, domestic shipments for the first seven months of 2007 notched up 21.9% yearonyear to over 6 million DSCs and value rose 14.1%. Total exports jumped 29.1% to 43.6 million units and value rose 19.7%. The European market gained 17.4% to 16.1 million units and 14.4% in value, while North America notched up 36.4% to 15.3 million and value gained 18.3%.
"What about the emerging markets? The Asian region also jumped 32.4% to 8.56 million units and value up 31.6%. The other regions up 52.9% and 22.6%, respectively. And these figures are those sold by Japanese makers only." Add those of U.S. manufacturers and other Asian makers, and the figures inflate further.
Ouchi notes that its natural to see high growth in emerging markets, but there's been growth worldwide. "Seemingly matured markets like Japan, the U.S.A., and European countries have also shown high growth rates," she says.
Reasons for growth include the addition of new features to cameras which are enticing consumers to buy; and affordable pricing, because now each individual in a household can afford their own digital camera.
James L. Chung, President, IPC, concurs with others who suggest the industry needs to provide consumers with compelling reasons to buy new digital still cameras.
Such reasons can be found in the unique features of some of the latest camera introductions: Casio's YouTube capture mode enables consumers to shoot at the optimum size and quality for the popular online video site. Nikon's Coolpix S51c digital camera featurs a wireless LAN communication function so users can connect to the internet to send images.
Another growing product category is the digital frame. Chung notes that about two million digital photo frames were sold last year in the U.S., up from only half a million in the previous year.
With the recent introductions of new DSLRs by market leaders Canon and Nikon, Christopher Chute, Research Manager, Worldwide Digital Imaging Practice, IDC sees, "Nikon borrowing the best tactics from Canon, the perennial global leader in the camera market, and creating a winning formula based on its heritage as a manufacturer of quality professional cameras and an innovator in adding value to the practice of photography. On the other hand, we expect Canon, should it feel any heat, to respond in kind, especially with marketing dollars. Nikon traditionally hasn't focused on marketing spending the way Canon has, and if it is to gain share, this will need to be a major focus."
"The Digital Revolution is over—Digital won! Now savvy retailers are reporting increased sales and finally increased profits," says industry consultant Bill McCurry, of McCurry Associates. "Many photo retailers believe 2007 could be their best year in history with a stronger 2008. 'It's about time' is what many are saying," he adds.
Brent Bowyer, Executive Director, IPI, also has seen more lab owners and retailers prospering over the past year. He notes that he's never heard so many members sharing with others the new services they're providing and the new consumer demanded goods they are providing as he had at the recent annual IPI convention and tradeshow. "They were talking about their successes with their kiosk programs, framing, photo book printing, shoebox scanning, sports photography, portraits, hard goods sales, and many other topics," Bowyer says.