SAN FRANCISCO With the majority of amateur and professional photographers having made the switch from film to digital cameras, the worldwide market for digital still cameras appears to be leveling off at about $18 billion per year, according to market research firm IC Insights Inc.
Nearly 82 million stand-alone digital still cameras are expected to be sold worldwide in 2007, which would represent a 7 percent increase from 2006, according to IC Insights' 2007 IC market drivers report. Digital still camera unit sales are projected to increase 13 percent in 2006, the firm said.
Despite the projected 7 percent growth in 2007 unit shipments, lower average selling prices will result in zero revenue growth for digital still cameras next year, according to
IC Insights (Scottsdale, Ariz.). The firm expects digital camera revenue to increase to $18.1 billion from $17.2 billion this year.
The forecast of leveling revenue for digital still cameras follows years of dramatic growth. Unit shipments of digital still cameras increased by an average of 38 percent per year from 2000 through 2005, according to IC Insights. With the market for first-time digital still camera buyers basically saturated, the firm expects the compound annual growth rate of unit shipments to be less than 6 percent in the second half of this decade.
Future sales of digital still cameras are dependent upon user upgrade cycles, which will increase the emphasis on powerful image processors, faster analog-to-digital converters, wireless connections for transferring pictures, more nonvolatile flash NAND memory and higher resolution image sensors, said IC Insights.
To boost sales, camera makers are developing new "hybrid" models that will capture high-resolution still pictures while also recording high-definition full-motion movies, IC Insights said. Many of these hybrid still/video cameras will contain high-speed CMOS image sensors, according to the firm.
Roughly 79 percent of today's digital still cameras employ charge-coupled devices (CCDs) rather than CMOS image sensors, IC Insights said. The firm projects that CMOS image sensors will pass CCDs in share during 2009.
According to IC Insights estimates, digital still cameras will outsell film cameras by a ratio of four to one in 2006, with 4- to 6-Mpixel point-and-shoot models being the "sweet spot" for consumer compact cameras. In 2010, the firm expects more than 89 million digital still to be sold, accounting for more than 90 percent of all still-picture cameras bought worldwide.
Sean Wargo, director of industry analysis for the Consumer Electronics Association, recently told EE Times that his organization expects digital camera sales to peak within the next couple of years. However, Wargo believes that the 2006 holiday season will be a strong one for digital camera sales, with many consumers upgrading to a 5- to 6-Mpixel camera with other functionality.