Magazine Article


The State of the Imaging Industry 2004

Much of this growth is due to the efforts of both manufacturers and retailers. Manufacturers are doing their part by introducing new innovative products and investing in advertising to educating consumers how to print their digital pictures. Successful retailers are doing what they do best and that includes advertising, in-store merchandising, promotion and most importantly at this stage, awareness and education. Industry associations are doing their part, on behalf of both groups, to provide one reference area for consumers to access information. Recently, the Photo Marketing Association launched to educate consumers about digital printing options at home, at retail and online.

The message to us in both manufacturing and retailing is that there is profit in all three printing areas. We should expect consumers to use one or all of these solutions depending on their needs. Convenience, quality and price are all factors. We should recognize that each one of these areas represents a unique business and that our product offerings and strategies should address each of them. We need to not only give the customer choices but we need to participate in all three areas. Our customers expect us to.

PMDA will continue to provide Executive Forums in NYC to discuss these and other key topics that are important for our industry. On October 14, we have a panel discussion with three industry leaders who will discuss topics including the latest developments announced at photokina, digital developments and the role of camera phones.

As we get ready to head into the busy holiday season, we should understand our consumers' mindset, and be prepared to help them navigate through the digital options to ensure they are printing and preserving their memories.

Digital Transition to Where?

by James L. Chung
President, International Photographic Council (IPC) 2004 was an eventful year for the International Photographic Council (IPC). In June 2004, we suffered the loss of our founder, Sophie Smoliar who passed away at the age of 88. Her life in photography was filled with accomplishments including the establishment of our organization to promote the ideal of photography as the Universal Language. The importance of our role in the world today is recognized by our status as a Non-Governmental Organization within the United Nations.

In January 2004, the first IPC Hall of Fame Award was presented to Mr. Minoru Ohnishi, chairman of Fuji Photo Film Co., Ltd. for his outstanding achievement and great contributions to the world-wide imaging industry.

In May 2004, IPC celebrated the 6th Annual International Professional Photographers Month of May at the United Nations. This event honors the international professional photographers for their devotion to photography and their success in strengthening photography as the Universal Language. This event reflects the motto of IPC—Peace Through Understanding, Understanding Through Photography, the Universal Language.

At 2004 photokina in September, the annual Sophie Smoliar Scholarship was awarded to a German student, Herbert Bottcher.

For the imaging industry, we are witnessing the transformation of technology from analog to digital, from physical to virtual, from fixed to mobile, from wired to wireless and from general to personal. Thanks to dramatic advances in technology, it will be more central to all of our activities in the 21st Century.

On the business side, the imaging industry exhibits the paradox of dramatic growth in sales of digital still cameras (DSC) with a very low rate of profit. Worldwide shipment of DSC for 2004 will be about 64 million units, with an expectation of 40 % annual growth.

Profitability of DSC is a major concern for the manufacturers. The FOB price for a 3-megapixel DSC has dropped to as low as US $70.

As a result of the growth in DSC sales, photographic film sales have declined by about 18 to 20% annually. However, at this stage, it would be premature to write off photographic business. To meet the challenges from DSC, film camera manufacturers have introduced new models offering extended battery life, larger LCD information panels and greater user friendliness. The new models being released internationally include the Canon SLR EOS 70 with aluminum body and special colors to appeal to teenagers. The new Nikon U2 offers upgraded basic functions to generate increased demand from amateurs for this SLR model. The new Fuji Silvi F135 is a user-friendly compact camera with a large LCD monitor on the back panel to allow users to confirm photographic data.

At present, only about 33% of American households own a DSC while over 60% of households regularly take photos. Thus, the photography segment of the market should continue to make a healthy contribution to the business profitability in the year to come.

It may well be the digital transition will bring back photography for greater prosperity to the imaging industry.