Point-and-shoot digital cameras, once the darlings of amateur photographers, are slowly being pushed out of the market thanks to the growing popularity and sophistication of smartphones. This has put in danger Japanese companies like Canon, Olympus, Nikon and Sony who previously owned that market.
Just as digital cameras disrupted the market for photographic films, smartphones and tablets are now threatening to overthrow digital cameras. Smartphones have grown from to become pocket computers, multimedia players, and quality cameras all in one compact package. The devices have already encroached on the turf of video game handhelds and portable music players which is also dominated by Japanese firms such as Sony and Nintendo. Users are now content to download free games or store music and video on their smartphones instead of owning separate devices. Similarly, high quality pictures and Internet connectivity have made smartphones more practical than having a separate digital camera. According to the Camera and Imaging Products Association of Japan, global shipments of digital cameras have dropped to about 42 percent in September compared to last year. Other factors have also contributed to the disappointing figures, such as the European economic problem, the territorial dispute between Japan and China, and a strong yen that has made exports less competitive.
Not all hope is lost however. The firms have been working to augment camera features to make them more attractive, such as waterproofing or sharing on social networks. There is also still a market for digital cameras in growing economies where not everyone can afford a smartphone. But while the companies have not yet conceded the battle, analysts say that the trend will most likely continue as smartphone camera technology steadily improves to rival even professional digital cameras.
[ via Naharnet ]