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Cologne, Germany, September 27, 2006 – The American digital market is "more mature" than Europe, according to InfoTrends representatives at a Photokina InfoBriefing today. In a review of U.S. and global digital trends, InfoTrends stated the U.S. market is faring well, but predicted it to peak this year.
Last year, 84 million digital cameras were shipped around the world. In 2010, InfoTrends predicts 106 million digital cameras to be shipped. Along with the increasing number of people who buy digital cameras, more of those customers are repeat purchasers. Forty-four percent of U.S. digital camera owners are repeat buyers, according to InfoTrends.
"A few years down the line, there will be few first time buyers," said InfoTrends Associate Director Mette Eriksen of Digital Photography and Trends Europe.
With a roughly nine year mass production history, according to InfoTrends director Ed Lee, digital cameras have newer, better features that appeal to consumers that are already owners. Those who buy again typically wait about two years before upgrading, said Lee.
The new hot item is the DSLR, according to Lee. The DSLR is expanding its markets across the U.S. Once only "reachable to advanced hobbyists," said Lee, DSLRs now appear in other consumer groups. The DSLR, once thought of as an affluent man’s camera, has reached lower-income female consumers. Women are increasingly becoming buyers of digital technology for the household, according to Lee. "The woman is the family memory keeper, the soccer mom," said Lee.
The percentage of DSLR owners, however, differs between U.S. and European camera owners. Out of all the digital camera categories, DSLRs ranked as the least frequently purchased digital camera in Europe, following point-and-shoots, camera phones, film SLRs, and film point-and-shoots. In the U.S., however, DSLRs ranked second as the most frequently bought camera, following point-and-shoots. The purchasing differences indicate that Europeans tend to think of DSLRs as tools for a select few, while in the U.S., DSLRs reach a wider spectrum of customers, according to Eriksen.
In addition, European repeat buyers tended to be hobbyists, while Americans took more point-and-shooters with snapshot photography. In the U.S., nearly 100 percent of repeat digital camera purchasers bought point-and-shoots compared to Europe’s 80 percent who bought point-and-shoots.
Overall, Americans also use their cameras twice as much as Europeans, with only eight percent of Europeans using their cameras everyday compared to 15 percent of Americans using their cameras daily.
With twice the amount of exposures, Americans, not surprisingly, print more often than Europeans. In Europe, users print 12.5 images on average per month while Americans print 20 pictures, a 62 percent difference in printing habits.
InfoTrends predicts that North American digital cameras sales will peak this year. Though, falling sales will decline gradually over the next few years, said InfoTrends director Ed Lee. On the other hand, markets in Latin America and Asia will see substantial growth, particularly in China.
In regard to industry manufacturers, the business model includes various partnerships among competitors, said Lee, with relationships between Pentax and Samsung, Sony and Konica Minolta, and Leica and Panasonic. With four or five major competitors, according to Lee, "There’s not enough room for more.'