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Agfa to shutter digital camera sales

Amid slackening shipments, the photo giant will exit the digital camera and consumer scanner markets in North America by year's end.

Amid slackening shipments, photo giant Agfa will exit the digital camera and consumer scanner markets in North America by year's end.

"The company decided that the opportunities in North America for those product areas were not enough to put up with the expenses that come with competing," Agfa spokesman Joe Murphy said late Tuesday.

The Belgium-based company will stick with its core business in North America, which includes sales of professional scanners, retail photo labs and camera film.

Agfa's move comes as the digital camera market continues to grow, although companies whose core business does not include consumer electronics are starting to pull out.

Chipmaker Intel recently pulled the plug on its consumer electronics division--including its digital camera sales--citing slower-than-expected long-term growth.

IDC analyst Chris Chute said he isn't surprised by Agfa's decision.

"Their consumer electronics approach never successfully established a brand in North America," Chute said.

Chute added that he expected Agfa's exit because the company hadn't announced new products for the upcoming year and had already moved operations out of North America.

Agfa's digital camera shipments had been dwindling quarter after quarter this year, going from 29,000 units in the first quarter to 6,500 units in the third quarter, according to IDC. Last year, Agfa shipped 290,000 digital cameras, compared with market leader Sony, which shipped 1.3 million units.

Agfa's consumer scanner shipments were a bit better last year, but still far off the market leader. Agfa shipped 31,000 units in the first half of this year, compared with 1.3 million from Hewlett-Packard.

Chute added that he expects other small players in the digital camera market to follow Agfa in the coming months.