Despite all the “experts” claiming digital camera sales would be down in 2007, several industry research firms, including PMA, tell us unit sales actually grew 4.6 percent through June 2007. In a separate report, NPD recently added that actual dollar sales fell 5 percent, as digicam pricing continues its freefall. It’s not uncommon today to see 5-6 megapixels for around $200 (or less), so that number is not surprising. Recent numbers from IDC tell us the global market for digicams is also showing growth as the firm projects over 122 million digital cameras will be shipped in 2007, with that number growing to 138 million by 2011.
Most of (over 90 percent) the digital camera sales activity is taking place in the 6-8 megapixel area. Obviously, with the DSLR category remaining hot, this trend will undoubtedly continue through the rest of 2007 and on into 2008.
The projection for 2007 was for digicams to hit close to 23 million units sold in the U.S. and film cameras to drop to close to 2 million. PMA tells us 2003 was the first year that digital camera sales surpassed 35mm camera sales and the decline has been dramatic ever since. Incredible to think that in 2002 film cameras outsold digicams 14.2 to 9 million…over 5 million more film cameras were sold and just 5 short years later it has flip-flopped to the point that digicams will now out sell film cameras by some 22 million.
PMA’s data also stated that in the past 12 months (ending in May 07), 80% of all new cameras sold were digital cameras.
Furthering the strong data on the dramatic decline in 35mm camera sales, PMA claims that digital camera sales got off to a fast start in Q1 2007 showing 31.7 percent growth, while sales of 35mm cameras during the same period plummeted 36.0 percent.
The news was similar for 35mm SLR cameras for the same period as this category saw a 46 percent drop in sales. PMA claims the average price for the overall film camera category has “retreated as the magnitude of declines in unit volumes came in below those of dollar volumes (-31 percent vs. -35 percent respectively).”
From recent NPD data comes this report, regarding the ranking by brand of retail sales of digital cameras (including DSLRs) for the period November 2006 through April 2007.
**The top 10 accounted for 95.5% of total sales.
Very surprising not to see Samsung and Pentax on this list and equally surprising to see Polaroid, a company that hasn’t done a PMA Show for several years now but has regrouped and is producing some interesting products of late.
Furthering the point of film’s decline is the numbers attached to “images captured” over the years with digital cameras versus film cameras. In 2004 there were 13.9 billion images captured with film cameras compared to 12.9 billion with digital. By the end of this year those numbers are projected to be – Film 6.8 billion vs Digital 26.2 billion.
It’s interesting to look back just 8-10 years ago when many in the imaging industry were predicting that digital cameras would not become a mainstream product and begin to replace film cameras for 15-20 years. In fact, it took only 5 or 6 years for digital cameras sales to surpass film camera sales and less time than that for the technology to begin taking its toll on 35mm film processing dollar volumes in the U.S. Looking out beyond 2010, not only will digicams have made their mark on mainstream photography, they may very well have completely replaced 35mm cameras.