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March 9, 2005 — Marketing research group IDC released a study confirming that the digital camera and digital photo printing markets are healthy in Western Europe. Total shipments of digital cameras in the area reached 25 million in 2004, a 58 percent growth over 2003. However, the growth spurt has reached a plateau, researchers say.
"This first sign of market maturity was seen in quarter four of 2004, when shipment growth slowed to 30 percent over quarter four of 2003, in a period that includes the Christmas rush and is the busiest quarter for the market," said Paul Withington, research manager for IDC’s European Peripherals Group.
With the more mature market, printers and accessories are becoming increasingly important. The IDC reported "exceptional growth" in the small-format photo printer market, particularly the 4 x 6-inch size. More than one million of these devices were sold in Western Europe in 2004, up 230 percent from 2003.
The IDC also reported that consumers are still fueling the megapixel war, as the number of megapixels is still the top purchase consideration — over lens quality and image processing. Because of this, the market has been inundated with digital cameras in the 4-megapixel range.
The survey revealed the rankings of the digital camera manufacturers in Western Europe. Canon leads for the third straight year, with their product line covering from the simplest of digital cameras to professional models. Sony captured the number two spot with a strong showing in the popular 4-5 megapixel range. The number three spot went to Olympus for its strong low-end line and recent E-series prosumer releases.