Camera market to peak in 2010, IDC says

As markets saturate, shipments will drop 2 percent in 2011, but SLR segment will still grow, according to market researcher.

Digital camera sales will grow 8 percent to hit 114 million units in 2007, but the market will peak in 2010, IDC forecast Tuesday.

The digital camera market is saturating as the electronic devices replace earlier film models, and already camera makers have begun emphasizing products and features for customers who are upgrading or want multiple cameras. But even emerging markets will saturate soon, IDC forecast, and the number of units shipped will decline after 2010.

"We predict a slowdown, driven by a complete saturation of all regions, creating 2 percent negative growth in 2011," said IDC analyst Christopher Chute.

The exception is with digital SLR (single-lens reflex) cameras, which are bulkier and more expensive but offer better performance and a variety of interchangeable lenses. Digital SLR shipments will increase 9 percent to 8.5 million units in 2011, IDC forecast.

To tap into new markets, camera makers will have to adapt marketing and distribution for customers in China, Russia and the diverse countries of Latin America.

But cameras should withstand the arrival of cell phones that can take snapshots, IDC forecast.

"IDC believes that digital cameras will continue to keep ahead of camera phones on the image quality side, and still resonate with consumers as the device of choice when taking high-value still images," the company said. "As the mobile phone continues to morph into a multimedia lifestyle device, it is becoming increasingly clear that different segments of users, based on lifestyle and region of the world, are using digital cameras and mobile phones in different ways."

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