Canon, Nikon struggle against smartphone cameras in Korea

Harder times ahead for Canon and Nikon in South Korea where smartphone cameras dominate, according to a report. This echoes news from Japan where Canon cut its annual profit forecast.

Nikon Coolpix S9500: Japanese traditional camera makers are facing tougher times in South Korea's market where the smartphone penetration rate is high.
Nikon Coolpix S9500: Japanese traditional camera makers are facing tougher times in South Korea's market where the smartphone penetration rate is high. Best Buy

South Korea may be the canary in the coal mine for traditional digicam makers Canon and Nikon.

The two Japanese camera giants face a tough market this year as smartphones become the de facto camera for many consumers, the Korea Times said Thursday.

South Korea has one of the world's highest penetration rates for smartphones -- which pack increasingly sophisticated cameras.

The Korea Times echoed news out of Japan last month that said consumers value the social networking aspect of smartphone cameras, which allow sharing of images immediately.

Market researcher IDC expects the "camera market to go into a long-term decline, with the result being that cameras will become specialized devices that cater to specific types of users, such as professionals and advanced amateurs," according to the Times.

The global digital camera market is forecast to shrink 29 percent to 102 million units next year compared with 144 million in 2010, IDC said.

Apple, Samsung, and Nokia, among other smartphone vendors, continue to boost the feature set of their integrated cameras. The iPhone 5S is rumored to have a better camera and Nokia just rolled out the Lumia 1020 with a 41-megapixel camera.

Meanwhile, Samsung's newest high-end smartphone, the Galaxy S4, now packs a 13-megapixel sensor.

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