Magazine Article


The State of the Imaging Industry

The recent industry market data shows the photo film volume declined 14.5% while One-Time-Use camera units increased 12.3% on the year-to-year as of July 2003.
Since 1997, use of Kodak's consumer Black & White film has increased dramatically, with a compounded annual growth rate of 37% over the last three years because of better quality and convenience. According to Kodak, the growth largely is due to the ability of B&W photography to accentuate depth and emotion.

In August 2003, Kodak announced the availability of a new Kodak Black & White One-Time-Use camera designed to provide consumers with the ability to make pictures a photographic classic.

Even in Japan, Fujifilm, Kodak, and Konica are capitalizing on the growing popularity of the reversal color photographic film among amateur photographers seeking superior picture quality than digital image quality. Fujifilm markets the Velvia 100F, while Kodak begins to sell Ektachrome E100G reversal color film. Konica markets Sinbi 100 reversal color film suitable for landscape photography.

It seems people are not ready to give up photo picture taking for digital. There is still a lot of life in photography.


Blooming Digital SLR Market = Opportunity
by Machiko Ouchi, Editor-in-Chief, PEN Weekly, pub-lished by Japan Photographic Enterprises International

The year 2003 will be remembered as a blossoming year for digital SLR cameras with many new models added in the latter half of the year, including Olympus' Four-Thirds format E-1, Canon's consumer-oriented EOS Kiss Digital (Rebel) offered at around ¥140,000 with a standard zoom lens, on top of its popular EOS 10D, and Pentax *ist D. Thus far digital SLRs were mostly for pros, but advancing electronics technologies bring about compact and lightweight gears at affordable prices.

In the first seven months of the year, 277,000 units of digital SLRs were shipped worldwide and some 400,000 units are expected to be added in the rest of the year, with Canon planning to produce 70,000 units a month of the EOS Kiss Digital alone.

The emergence of D-SLRs contributed to Japan's camera makers improving their profitability and earnings thanks to the camera's higher prices compared to their film counterparts. It also will help camera specialty dealers to sell more D-cams and accessories if they are armed with a proper knowledge of electronic imaging and personal computers in addition to their long experience in photography. This is a superior selling point for specialty dealers over electronic mass marketers or large-scale hyper stores. You can sell large prints, or supplies for the inkjet printer if your customers prefer to make prints at home.

There is another huge market for easy-to-use digital compact cameras with pixel counts up to 4MP, which calls for tougher competition with discount stores and electronics shops. This product category requires less knowledge about imaging but also requires a huge inventory. And this category will face another competitor-the camera-fitted cell phone, whose dissemination speed is incredibly high in Japan.

Digicam and camphone users take more pictures casually, so it is important to persuade them to make prints at your store or kiosk at the storefront. And U.S. consumers will soon follow this trend, so be armed and be prepared.


Opportunities And Challenges
by Ted Fox, Chief Operating Officer, Photographic Marketing Association (PMA)

As the economy continues to improve, the photo/imaging industry is poised to benefit during the upcoming holiday selling season. Photo retailers are fortunate to be deeply engaged in one of the hottest retail trends: digital cameras and accessories. The natural joy of photography, coupled with the excitement of innovation, makes a digital camera a winning gift.