SOURCE: Future Image

October 07, 2005 08:01 ET

Digital Camera Must Evolve to Survive

New Future Image Research Study Examines How Digital Cameras -- In Spite of Their Current Success -- Will Have to Evolve in Order to Survive Camera-Phones and Other Forms of Embedded Image Capture

SAN MATEO, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- October 7, 2005 -- The digital camera business is booming. The high end of the market in particular is growing rapidly. Digital SLRs have come down from thousands of dollars to hundreds, and nearly doubled in sales to more than half a million units last year in the U.S., and more than two million worldwide.

But as image capture capabilities migrate into other devices -- most notably camera-phones -- what will become of the value proposition of standalone cameras? If people can capture adequate pictures with the camera embedded in their phone [or MP3 player, or any other device they will carry with them] -- when would they pack a larger single-function camera? What would motivate consumers to buy one?

To answer these questions, Future Image examined how the value proposition in the state-of-the art segments of the camera market -- digital SLRs and other enthusiast cameras -- has evolved in response to market forces.

"Digital SLRs and the High-end Camera Market" includes an analysis of the rise in sales and profits at the top vendors; an extensive user survey (more below); detailed analysis of leading cameras; a reference table tracking the price, resolution and ship date of 91 recent high-end camera products (39 SLRs and 52 enthusiast models); detailed reviews of market-defining cameras; and extensive interviews with executives from Canon, Fujifilm, HP, Kodak, Konica Minolta, Nikon, Olympus, and Sony.

"Motivating consumers to purchase new cameras will require offering a significantly better photography experience than what multifunction devices like camera-phones provide," says Future Image's Paul Worthington, principal author of the new study. "Right now vendors are focusing on higher resolution and more capable lenses. Our study indicates that's not going to be a sufficient answer."

The survey of 400 experienced digital camera users was designed to identify what technologies, usages, and preferences will shape the mass market cameras to come -- what features which currently define the high-end will migrate to the mainstream, and what key criteria consumers will use for their future purchase decisions. It includes 40 graphs breaking down the numerical vote tallies for each question, such as:

--  What is the resolution of the next camera you wish to purchase?
--  Which do you prefer: an interchangeable lens mount? Or a permanently
    attached Zoom lens?
--  How much more would you pay for LCD live preview in an SLR or high-end
    camera ?
--  What mix of features, size, and price would you prefer in your next
    digital camera?
--  Etc.
    
The interviews section features fourteen executives from the top eight digital camera manufacturers. Their expertise is presented in roundtable format to best contrast and compare their differing perspectives. The discussion covers the key issues related to developing and marketing digital cameras, including:
--  Matching market segments with camera features and product lines.
--  The advantages and disadvantages of cameras with a built-in lens, as
    opposed to a mount for interchangeable optics -- including the economics of
    the aftermarket lens business.
--  Economics and performance issues for prime vs. zoom lenses.
--  Image quality, Sensors and Resolution.
--  Viewfinders: Will users continue to prefer optical viewfinders over
    EVFs which can be more affordable and perform better with long telephoto
    lenses?
--  Does the Single Lens Reflex mechanism that has traditionally defined
    SLRs deliver unique benefits -- and will users continue to prefer it over
    electronic mechanisms?
    
Digital SLRs and the High-end Camera Market is available in three versions: The Survey edition, the Executive Interview edition, and the Combined edition which includes both.

All three editions include an introduction and industry overview, the sales and profits, discussion, company news and camera reviews, and the reference table of 91 models. The reference table is provided in electronic as well as print format to enable readers to conduct their own analysis of the data.

The Table of Contents and Figures for all three editions, as well as ordering information, are available at: http://www.futureimage.com/sfm.cgi?t=p/SLR

Note to Editors: Excerpts of the report are available for publication.

ABOUT FUTURE IMAGE

San Mateo, CA-based Future Image Inc. is the leading independent center of expertise on the convergence of imaging, technology and business, with a primary emphasis on Mobile Imaging -- and host of the hugely successful Mobile Imaging Summit executive conferences.

Future Image is the official information and research partner of the International Imaging Association (I3A).

CONTINUOUS INFORMATION SERVICES

Published since 1993, the Future Image Executive Information Service is read by business leaders in over fifty countries. It features a weekly email covering key news in the digital imaging industry -- products, components, services, infrastructure, alliances -- with commentary from Future Image analysts; and a monthly hard copy journal covering trends analysis, market research, and exclusive interviews with industry leaders. A free trial of the service is available at www.futureimage.com

The Future Image MIR (Mobile Imaging Report) focuses on camera-phones and the intersection of imaging and wireless communications. Subscribers receive a weekly "MIR News" and additional exclusive reports. All documents are accessible to subscribing companies through a keyword-searchable website. For more information, please see www.wirelessimaging.info.

EXECUTIVE CONFERENCES -- MOBILE IMAGING SUMMIT

Future Image's executive conferences are limited attendance events for decision makers (Director/GM, VP and C-level). The content, venue and amenities are carefully designed to maximize opportunities for participants to identify areas of mutual business advantage, and to make the high-level connections necessary for market leadership and competitive advantage. Sessions are conducted in an interactive format that promotes exchanges among participants both onstage and off. The 2004 sessions of the Mobile Imaging Summit feature venues in Amsterdam (June 17/18, focus on Europe) and Monterey, CA (October 28/29, focus on North America). For more information please see www.mobileimagingsummit.com

RESEARCH REPORTS

Future Image underwrites and publishes primary research studies on the impact of emerging, imaging-focused technologies or business trends, in three categories: Infrastructure, Appliances, and Services. Recent study topics include: Camera-phones, Kiosks and Print Services; Still & Video Camera Convergence and more. All reports are available from the Future Image web site or by contacting Future Image Customer Service, 1-800 PIXELS2, Ext. 42.

Future Image Inc.
520 South El Camino Real
San Mateo, CA 94402
Fax: 650-579-0566. www.futureimage.com
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Future Image provides consulting services to vendors, investors and large-scale users in the imaging industry, including technology assessment, competitive evaluation, market segmentation and targeting, messaging and communication strategies, focus group and survey definition, implementation and analysis.

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