U.S. driving digital camera sales

Three years ago, nearly half of all digital cameras were sold in Japan. Not anymore. Last year, U.S. consumers replaced the Japanese as the top market for digital cameras, said Christopher Chute, a research analyst for worldwide digital imaging at International Data Corp. (IDC), in a presentation at the Computex exhibition here.

In 2000, 53 percent of the estimated 15.1 million digital cameras sold were bought by customers in the U.S., Chute said, adding that the volume of digital cameras sold in Japan has continued to grow while the country's share of the worldwide market has decreased.

Despite concerns over the state of the U.S. economy, the U.S. is expected to remain the largest market for digital cameras.

U.S. consumers will continue to dominate the market for digital cameras, absorbing 44 percent of the 38.7 million units predicted to ship in 2005 despite the "recession-like mentality" they have developed -- a mentality that is likely to last through the middle of 2002, Chute said.

One of the factors that will help drive widespread adoption of digital cameras in the U.S. and elsewhere is price, Chute said. The average price of digital cameras will decline over the next several years, from US$367 in 2001 to $288 in 2005, a drop of more than 20 percent, he added.

In terms of technology, digital camera sales over the next few years will be primarily driven by 1-megapixel and 2-megapixel models, Chute said. In addition, USB (universal serial bus) will continue to be the dominant interface between PCs and digital cameras due to its ubiquity and low cost, Chute said. Prospects for short-range wireless technologies, such as Bluetooth and 802.11, are less clear, Chute said, adding that wireless technologies will be implemented in digital cameras in a limited fashion over the next three years.

IDC is a subsidiary of International Data Group, IDG News Service's parent company.

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