With smartphone cameras dominating our everyday lives, have we simply forgotten about the point-and-click digital cameras of old?
In a world where everyone carries smartphones, it really begs the question why anyone except the most dedicated photography fan or professional would invest in a digital camera. Even when we're talking about low-end digital cameras, the average consumer is hard-pressed to carry two devices that do the same thing, especially given that smartphone cameras come boasing exceedingly high quality and resolution. The sales prove this.
According to Statista, worldwide sales of digital cameras have dropped 87% since 2010, losing 106.3 million units in sales vlume since between 2010-2019.
Around the time when touch screen displays were becoming mainstream around 2007-2008 with the release of the iPhone, the quality of phone cameras began a quick upturn simultaneously. With screen resolutions quickly improving, phone cameras were the natural next area of focus for manufacturers. From partnerships with renowned camera lens manufacturers like Carl Zeiss, to increasing double digit Megapixels, digital cameras quickly found themselves in a losing battle within a few years post-2007.
"12 years later, the situation of the camera industry looks very different," Statista noted. "Having raced to ever-higher megapixel counts in the early years of the smartphone boom, recent developments have focused on improving image depth and performance in low-light conditions, both areas in which the difference between smartphones and dedicated cameras used to be most obvious."
In an interview with LiveMint, Kazutada Kobayashi, CEO and president of Canon India, highlighted that consumers have no reason to buy point-and-click digital cameras anymore, given the advancements of smartphone cameras. However, manufacturers like Canon are putting more and more emphasis on DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) cameras, given the features they provide, which smartphones can't realistically duplicate.
"We are seeing a transition where people are considering photography from a serious hobby to a potential career opportunity," Kobayashi said. "Hence, our growing focus would be on catering to the demand of photography enthusiasts who want to graduate from smartphone photography. Digital cameras have unique aesthetics and a value-add for a user, which can be never found on a smartphone. "
Image-based apps like Instagram have produced a boom of photography mania among many of its users, many of whom take images using professional DSLRs and then upload them to the app, instead of just taking images through their phones. While this is still reserved for the more hardcore Instagram user, usually an influencer, its impact on the digital camera market cannot be understated.
Action photography has also increased the demand for compact, motion-optimized cameras like the GoPro action camera series.
Therefore, as Kobayashi said, digital camera manufacturers today will have to find ways to capitalize on this growing interest in photography as opposed to simply targetting the casual consumer market. For now, DSLRs seem to be the way to go, especially more entry-level models, as well as a focus on action cameras - both offering features smartphone cameras simply can't match.