Magazine Article


PTN's State of the Industry 2007
PTN takes its annual look at the State of the Imaging Industry, its effects on retailing and where industry pundits see us heading in 2008.

John Loiacono; Adobe
Bill Mccurry; Mccurry Assoc.
Eliot Peck; Canon
Bill Heuer; Casio
Gary Shapiro; CEA
Chris Howard; Durst
John D. Lang; Epson
Bing Liem; Fujifilm
Rich Duncombe; HP
Christopher Chute; IDC
Alan Bullock; Infotrends
James Chung; IPC
Brent Bowyer; IPI
Machiko Ouchi; Jpeai
Mark Leathem; Kingston
Brad Kruchten; Kodak
Jeff Cable; Lexar
David Lee Nikon
Tina Tuccillo; Noritsu
Liz Cutting; NPD
Jim Dicarlo; Olympus
Richard Campbell; Panasonic
Ned Bunnell; Pentax
Ted Fox; Pmai
Matt Knickerbocker; Pmda
Mike Worswick; Pro Group
Stewart Henderson; Samsung
Wes Brewer; Sandisk
Toru Okada; Sony
Korosh Delnawaz; Whitech
Tim Sexton; ZBE

Ready to Upgrade

Repeat buyers are growing in number. The NPD Group's Cutting explains: "The digital camera market continues to thrive, and repeat buyers are the biggest contributors. In the 12 months ending July 2007, digital camera units were up 20% to 33 million and up 5% in dollars to $7 billion, according to The NPD Group's consumer tracking service. July represented the biggest ratio of repeat to new buyers, with 59% of digital cameras purchased for personal use by those who already own at least one. "

"Several years into owning their first digital camera, the beginner photographer has evolved, matured and is now ready to upgrade. Prices are low and options abound when it comes to specifications as well, including higher resolutions, more robust feature sets, larger LCD screens and better optics," says Samsung's Henderson. He explains that DSLRs were typically out of the price range of this type of consumer, but now there are more entrylevel models than ever. "This also presents retailers with a significant opportunity to increase their sale of photographic accessories, including camera cases, tripods and additional lenses—peripherals that pointandshoot consumers typically don't consider," he adds.

Wes Brewer, VP, Cards and Accessories Division, SanDisk Corp., notes that newer cameras are able to benefit from faster memory cards. The highest read/write speed, he says, is about double what it was just a year ago. In addition, "lower prices for memory cards have increased the attachment rate, which was 1.7 in 2006 but is expected to be about 2.1 for 2007, according to projections from IDC," Brewer says.

Cameras That Fit "My" Lifestyle:

"Consumers today are looking at consumer electronic products as less of a technology gadget and more of a lifestyle accessory. That is why style, design and color have such a major influence in today's purchasing decision," explains Canon's Peck. He also says that technology advancements add to the reasons spurring consumers to buy their second or third digital camera.

Casio's VP, Digital Imaging Division, Bill Heuer says, "The industry needs to concentrate on developing products that offer compelling reasons to buy other than price. Given the market penetration of digital cameras most consumers aren't buying a camera by price alone. They're looking for new features that make the camera stand out from the one they are already carrying. Most mass retailers offer only a limited assortment of camera colors. Consumers want choices and most want to walk out of the store with their new camera in hand."

Both Canon and Casio have digital camera lines featuring a range of popular colors, for the customer who wants to make a fashion statement with the electronics devices they carry.

Ned Bunnell, VP, Marketing, Pentax Imaging Co. says, " defines a lifestyle brand as one that 'embodies the values and aspirations of a group or culture.' Successful lifestyle brands go on to recognize that today's customers have a sense of self, based on their individual background, and they want a brand they can associate with publicly. Dealers and manufacturers who recognize and understand the core identity of every customer will have an edge."

Mark Leathem, Director of Flash Marketing and Business Development, Kingston Technology, continues: "The photographic industry, and its collective products and services, continues to evolve as consumers' lifestyles evolve. We've developed into a society of sight and sound where consumers of all ages are using photography, music and video to express themselves and share their lives with friends next door and strangers around the world. Photography...has allowed nations of differing lifestyles to learn more about each other and make the world even smaller than it has already become.

"We've also evolved into a world of mobility where wireless recording and playback devices are an essential part of our everyday lives. Based on the volume of content that is being produced by consumers en masse, we believe that one area of continued growth will be memory storage. Whether it's additional computer RAM, memory cards, USB drives, or 'virtual storage' of content via the internet, the need for storage in general will continue to be in very high demand."

Video—the Next Frontier

"On the video side, we expect High Definition to have a significant effect on the types of products consumers purchase. HD presents a prime opportunity to sell high technology and high image quality to a consumer willing to step up from a much commoditized entrylevel standard definition model," says Canon's Peck.

Casio's Heuer concurs, "Consumers are just starting to understand how easy it is to capture and share video memories like they do still images. They realize that there are many events, such as a young child walking or talking for the first time, you can only truly capture on video. Everyone has heard of YouTube, but most people are not aware that in addition to sharing videos publicly you can share them privately. This is a great way to share events with friends or family. In 2008 we see the use of video growing and ease of use continuing to improve."

"New technologies in digital still and digital video cameras continue to propel consumer demand for faster and higher capacity flash memory cards, so the flash memory business shows encouraging signs as we near the close of 2007," adds SanDisk's Brewer.

"DSC users…are realizing that more memory creates ample room to store multiple short clips or extended videos. Furthermore, digital video cameras (DVC) are becoming mainstream as H.264 video compression technology improves imaging quality and recording efficiency. These advantages also drive the need for higher capacity cards and thus generate incremental card sales," Brewer continues.

Lexar's Director of Marketing, Jeff Cable notes the importance of speed—with regards to the camera's ability to record an image, play it back or download to computer. "While most people associate speed with the rate at which a digital camera processes a captured image, speed relates to virtually every step in a photography shoot. In fact, many new digital SLR cameras feature improved automated functions including highspeed autofocus, immediate image playback and fasterthanever burst mode shooting. These speedfocused attributes are evidence of manufacturers doing what they can to improve the photography process," Cable says; explaining that, "at the heart of the process remains the photographer's desire to spend time and energy shooting."