Point, shoot, collapse: Why big camera companies are the next BlackBerry
Sometime last year, a once unthinkable trend began to manifest itself among camera retailers worldwide.
Sales of compact, point-and-shoot cameras had long since gone off a cliff, steeply falling opposite the astronomical rise of capable smartphone cameras. But now, a disaster scenario was truly beginning to show, as sales of single lens reflex cameras (SLRs) also began to exhibit a decline for the very first time.
These are the cameras of photo enthusiasts: people who cannot imagine compromising any aspect of their picture’s quality, care about have absolute control over exposure and might even get a little giddy about saving up for a better lens, a brighter piece of “glass.”
For Canon Inc. and Nikon Corp., these people were their high-margin growth customer. With half a century of dominance in the film camera business, the stalwart Japanese camera giants had traded on this reputation to ride the digital wave. A boon for SLR sales. It was long believed that the clear inferiority of smartphone pictures would ensure the safety of this stronghold.
Now, Nikon shares are down 33% on the Tokyo Stock Exchange so far this year, and Canon, which at least has other business lines to fall back on, is down almost 7%. Smartphones — especially today’s batch of modern, capable, high-resolution shooters — have proven more of a threat, harder to emulate, and even harder to beat, than anyone could have thought.
Instead, it is Apple Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Google Inc. and even Microsoft Corp.’s Nokia that, have become consumer photography’s new guard for the typical shooter and even the avid enthusiast. (Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg News)