"Never before was the world market for cameras larger than in 2003," Sibbe said. He noted that 50 million digital cameras, 57 million film cameras, 430 million single-use cameras; and more than 13 million camcorders were sold worldwide in 2003.
"In total, some 550 million cameras were sold for professional uses, but mainly to capture private moments for life," he said.
Putting a positive spin on what has been a growing concern in the photo industry, Sibbe suggested that the widespread acceptance of new technologies such as camera phones should not be viewed as a negative, disruptive technology.
"It is...obvious that in photography new technologies do not generally replace old ones but simply contribute to successful growth of the market as a whole," he said.
Sibbe added that he personally doesn't see camera phones as competition. "They are great newcomers in the photo business and enlarge our basis in formerly unknown dimensions even more than straightforward cameras for first-time buyers used to do in the past," he stated. Those who discover the joys of photography through camera phones will eventually want more sophisticated products and purchase full-featured cameras, he argued.
Bernard Masson, president, Digital & Film Imaging Systems and senior vice president, Eastman Kodak Company also spoke during the press conference. Digital Imaging is transforming picture taking and sharing on a massive scale, Masson stated.
"We're seeing explosive, accelerating growth...growth that's just barely started, and which won't stop anytime soon," he remarked. The "anytime, anywhere" access of images is beginning to reach the masses, and will bring increased revenue for everyone—retailers, labs, service providers and manufacturers.
The early adopters focused on technology and broad acceptance will mean the focus needs to shift from technology to the benefits of digital imaging, he said. Those benefits are: immediate verification, select and print, organization and printing, editing, and electronic sharing. "Those companies and retailers that understand this and execute well will win over the long term," Masson noted.
As digital imaging moves forward, Masson identified three important issues that the industry must address: enhanced ease of use; true mobility; and a broad, open architecture.
The organization of enormous quantities of digital pictures is a serious issue that consumers will be facing. "We're moving from 1,500 pictures in a shoebox to 15,000 on a hard drive," he said.
Masson used the banking industry as an example of true mobility. Before banking networks, your money was confined to one bank. Then came the ATM, and now you can access your money from anywhere in the world.
"The same thing is likely to happen in the picture business," he said, with networks linking retail partners, professional labs, consumers and manufacturers—to allow pictures to always be available.
Masson explained the importance of an open infrastructure. "To make the imaging industry grow, there needs to be open infrastructure... control points limit industry growth."
As preparations continue for this year's photokina, PTN will bring you all the news surrounding the "World's Fair of Imaging."