Just about 15 years ago, digital cameras burst on to the scene and dramatically disrupted the photo industry by steadily eating away at both 35mm camera and film sales. Digital camera shipment volume topped over 100 million units in 2007 and a few years later, shipment volume peaked after the major manufacturers initiated aggressive price promotions and rolled out diverse and innovative product portfolios, reaching about 130 million units in 2010.
The honeymoon is long over now, as smartphones and various other image-capturing gadgets have stolen consumer's hearts. The switchover is due in large part to the simple fact the best camera today is the one you always have with you and the smartphone has definitely become exactly that.
In 2013 Market Research Reports reported that shipment volume of major digital camera brands has slipped by over 30 percent. According to a recently released report, global digital camera shipment volume was estimated at about 66.7 million units in 2013, down 35.5 percent compared to 2012 and over 50 percent from the 2010 numbers.
The continued evolution and technological improvements in the image capture capability of smartphones only continues to cast a dark cloud over the future of digital cameras. Nokia's Lumia 1020 shocked the imaging world with its 41-megapixel sensor, Apple is touting the arrival of micro lenses that will allow the user to refocus images after they are taken, and Samsung is promising true optical image stabilization in upcoming smartphone models.
Add to this the thousands of imaging apps that keep coming to market that allow you to do some truly amazing things with your images after you've captured them, and it's safe to assume we may be seeing the sun set, at the very least, on the point-and-shoot camera market.
In looking ahead to 2014, with an uncertain global economic outlook and the continued evolution of the imaging tech in smartphones, the future of the entire digital camera market is certainly on shaky ground.