The market for photography equipment has been shrinking continually and across all areas for the last years. The decline in sales in low-priced compact cameras is easy to explain: for many, smart phones afford a sufficiently good image quality, are more readily available for snapshots, and, most importantly, people actually carry them with them constantly as communication and networking devices. And it is a truth universally acknowledged that the best camera is the one that you always have with you. 😉
Compact cameras might come with zoom-lenses, stronger flashes, and, in most cases – thanks to actual buttons – a better/ more intuitive controls, but this does not necessarily tip the scales in their favour. The target group does not seem to consider these advantages to be as important as the “always there” factor and the great potential for snapshots afforded by smart phones. It is therefore not surprising that “Super zoom compacts” and “premium compacts” were the only product categories still selling well on the German photo market in 2014.
In contrast, the ailing of the system camera segment remains a mystery for most. Neither analysts nor photographers can explain the phenomenon – after all, DSLRs and EVILs speak to a different, more “ambitious” target group than smart phones; however, I believe that they should not be competitors at all. Maybe, as the following graph by Mayflower shows, the market might be simply sufficiently saturated?
The graph shows the yearly production numbers between 1947 and 2013 in thousands. It appears that the market has arrived at a similar point as when the switch from analogue to digital technology occurred. This suggests that by now, everybody has swapped their analogue camera to a digital one, and that the market will level out at this saturated level, just as before the change of technologies.