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Valued Contributor
Posts: 336
Registered: ‎01-31-2017

Canon CEO expects shrinking market

Just read an interesting article in Digital Camera World. Canon's CEO says that smartphones will continue to decimate the camera market and offers a bleak assessment of the future. Personally, I think he is overly optimistic.

 

"The digital camera market will continue to fall for the next two years before it hits rock bottom, at which time it could have shrunk by almost half. That's the bleak forecast from Canon CEO, Fujio Mitarai."

 

 

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 4,891
Registered: ‎06-25-2014

Re: Canon CEO expects shrinking market


@John_SD wrote:

Just read an interesting article in Digital Camera World. Canon's CEO says that smartphones will continue to decimate the camera market and offers a bleak assessment of the future. Personally, I think he is overly optimistic.

 

"The digital camera market will continue to fall for the next two years before it hits rock bottom, at which time it could have shrunk by almost half. That's the bleak forecast from Canon CEO, Fujio Mitarai."

 


I'm not sure I'd see it quite the way he does. I might try to define a smartphone as an entry-level camera that can get people hooked on photography and adjust my marketing pitches (and my product lines) accordingly.

 

Does Canon make smartphones, or is that industry totally controlled by China and Korea?

Bob
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA
Valued Contributor
Posts: 336
Registered: ‎01-31-2017

Re: Canon CEO expects shrinking market


@RobertTheFat wrote:

I'm not sure I'd see it quite the way he does. I might try to define a smartphone as an entry-level camera that can get people hooked on photography and adjust my marketing pitches (and my product lines) accordingly.

 

Does Canon make smartphones, or is that industry totally controlled by China and Korea?


I am not aware of any Canon-made smartphone. The CEO's concerns seem well-founded to me. He indicates that there is scant evidence of any meaningful numbers of new adopters coming in to the market in the past several years. He said that even mirrorless isn't going to help much, because most of those sales are to existing pros and enthusiasts. Very few new adopters and that spells trouble when you are looking at market growth. He attributes the slide in numbers to people being satisfied with the increasingly better snapshots they are able to capture on their phones. That point seems reasonable enough to me. 

 

 

Honored Contributor
Posts: 7,871
Registered: ‎08-13-2015

Re: Canon CEO expects shrinking market

I am not worried. I am all set for years to come.
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"I don't rent software. I use Photoshop CS6, ACR 9.8 and Lightroom 6.8 ."
Valued Contributor
Posts: 465
Registered: ‎01-25-2018

Re: Canon CEO expects shrinking market

I suspect this will greatly reduce the amount of new R&D funds going into further advancing mirrorless cameras given his belief in a market that isn't going to be large enough to make the case for continuing large expenditures.  Canon, like others, will be investing in markets that they believe offer acceptable growth.  As the market continues to mature and shink, advances in performance will slow.

 

Just as the majority of the population is happy with low bit rate audio through poor quality earbuds, they are equally happy with the images that can be captured by current phones.  As consumer products, stand alone cameras will soon join AM table radios, "landline" phones, and other once popular consumer products as a niche product.

 

Rodger

 

 

EOS 1DX M2, 1DX, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video
Valued Contributor
Posts: 411
Registered: ‎10-18-2016

Re: Canon CEO expects shrinking market

[ Edited ]

I can see smartphones impinging on cameras the don't offer major telephoto capability, but it will be a while before a smartphone can replace the quality I can get from a FF sensor with a 600mm lens attached.  I recognize that is a distinct minority.  Also, I think we are looking at a generation of photographers who (as a generalization) are happy to keep their images on line in some form or other - via social media or web-based image banks, looking at them via some kind of media device.   I sense that the volume of larger, high quality images going to print is reducing amongst the masses.  I think there will always be a market amongst professionals and photography enthusiasts (there still is for film), but the days when we all lugged around a camra, especially a compact piont and shoot, are dying.

 

That said, what I fail to see in the camera market is the kind of app "smarts" that are making phones prouduce better and better images.  Basically I still see a smartphone's photographic ability as based on a lens, sensor and processor (just like a camera) with apps on top of them to generate output.  Now the lens and sensor are still extremely tiny, and getting better, but the real progress is being done in the processing of the images generated by those two elements - and they are making amazing strides.   I am seeing companies like Fujifilm and Sony incorporate limited versions of these features into their cameras, but I ask what we could get if the camera companies really got on board with those same features that generate amazing phone output.  Heaven knows it's hard enough to get Canon and Nkon (amongst others) to give us firmware fixes for flaws, so maybe I am asking for the moon here, but I sense that the traditional camera market is shifting, and the gear makers are not.

"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy
Honored Contributor
Posts: 7,871
Registered: ‎08-13-2015

Re: Canon CEO expects shrinking market


@John_SD wrote:

@RobertTheFat wrote:

I'm not sure I'd see it quite the way he does. I might try to define a smartphone as an entry-level camera that can get people hooked on photography and adjust my marketing pitches (and my product lines) accordingly.

 

Does Canon make smartphones, or is that industry totally controlled by China and Korea?


I am not aware of any Canon-made smartphone. The CEO's concerns seem well-founded to me. He indicates that there is scant evidence of any meaningful numbers of new adopters coming in to the market in the past several years. He said that even mirrorless isn't going to help much, because most of those sales are to existing pros and enthusiasts. Very few new adopters and that spells trouble when you are looking at market growth. He attributes the slide in numbers to people being satisfied with the increasingly better snapshots they are able to capture on their phones. That point seems reasonable enough to me. 

 

 


Unfortunately, the trade-off between convenience and image quality favors the physical convenience of a smartphone.  But, there are outside factors driving the popularity of smartphones.

 

When I attend an NBA game at MSG, I cannot bring my DSLR, but I am welcome to bring in a smartphone.  When I go to see a PGA Tour event, I cannot bring my DSLR, but I am allowed to bring a smartphone to most events.  When I board a plane for a vacation trip, I can bring my DSLR, but it usually costs me extra baggage fees.  Get the idea.

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Posts: 10,921
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Re: Canon CEO expects shrinking market

IMHO, camera makes have defeated themselves for resisting to make a entry  level DSLR act more like a smartphone.  All the new buyers are kids that grew up using a smartphone.  They want the DSLR to be similar.  Don't believe me?  Just hand your camera to a teenager.  The first thing they do is try to view it like a smartphone and work the menus like a smartphone.

 

Now add the fact smartphone cameras have gotten way better but the DSLR has only got a little better in the last few years. The full on pro market is probably safe for a long while.

 

Sometimes companies get so big they don't even know their own market.  How about asking, "What do you expect or want in a new Rebel?" Why ask about the Rebel line?  Because the P&S cameras are done, you're not bringing them back even if they did the super dishes.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV, even less and less other stuff.
Valued Contributor
Posts: 411
Registered: ‎10-18-2016

Re: Canon CEO expects shrinking market

I certainly agree with much of what Ebiggs says.  The interface of conventional cameras has stayed on a menu-driven system from back in the last century.  I also see users looking through the LCD screen when they would be more successful using the viewfinder, but they don't make that leap.

 

Still in a way the smartphone has revolutionized photography much like the Box Brownie did just over a century ago.  People now take images to document their lives on electronic devices and social media that do not demand super high end resolution.  The smartphone combined with such devices feeds into our innate desres to communicate, engage socially, to document our existance and in many cases to be given approval - everyone wants their "15 seconds of fame", and it's addictive...

 

We did all that before, but to a lesser extent through point and shoot cameras, but now the phone is and integral part of the new communications landscape, whiere an image is seamlessly captured, processed and transmitted in real time without having to lug around a bunch of devices.  There is no answer to that all-in-one solution that has really come from conventional camera manufacturers and thus they have become irrelevent to a major part of their traditional marketspace.

 

I agree that the prosumer and professional markets will still exist - probably that is where Canon are getting their 5 million sales value from, but the danger is that as the market shrinks then (as implied in the comment about refocusing on commercial markets) R&D will also, and the technology will stagnate.  I also suspect that many of today's players will drop out of the business completely.  Both those results would be a great pity, but are a fairly likely scenario.

"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy
Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 4,891
Registered: ‎06-25-2014

Re: Canon CEO expects shrinking market

A fact worth noting is that smart phones have become much larger over the past few years. One effect has been to considerably reduce the size difference between a smart phone and a P&S camera. Or to put it another way, there wouldn't be all that much difference between a phone that can behave as a camera and a camera that could behave as a phone. The latter would have to be capable of Internet access, of course, but that's no longer much of a stretch. Maybe the P&S camera could be saved from oblivion by such a transformation. At a minimum, it might spare this forum from the steady stream of "I can't get my camera to send my pictures to my phone" complaints.

Bob
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA
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