Kodak loses out in U.S. camera market

Canon and Nikon both managed to significantly increase their share of the U.S. digital still camera market in 2006 while Eastman Kodak dropped from first to third place, according to estimates from IDC.

Canon shipped 6.1 million cameras in the U.S. in 2006, up more than a million units of 2005, according to the data. That gave Canon a 20 percent market share and was enough to propel the camera maker from second to the top spot in the IDC ranking. Sony managed only a modest 3 percent rise in shipments but moved into second place while Eastman Kodak, which was top in 2005, suffered a 31 percent drop in shipments and fell to third place in the 2006 chart, said IDC.

Nikon delivered a strong performance and saw shipments increase 30 percent to 3 million units and remained in fourth place.

Among other vendors Matsushita Electric Industrial ( Panasonic ) saw shipments almost triple to 1 million units and Samsung Electronics more than doubled shipments to 1.5 million, said IDC.

The strong gains by Canon and Nikon came as the vendors introduced low-cost digital single lens reflex cameras (DSLR).

Single-lens reflex cameras use a mirror placed between the lens and the film or image sensor to project the image to the camera’s viewfinder. The mirror moves out of the way when the picture is taken. They typically support interchangeable lenses and are preferred by professional and serious amateur photographers over the compact point-and-shoot models that dominate the digital camera market.

The market had been dominated by Canon and Nikon for many years but high prices kept the cameras out of the hands of all but professionals and the most dedicated amateurs. However strong competition in the point-and-shoot end of the market led camera makers to start developing low-cost DSLR models. Sony and Panasonic both joined the market with their own models this year and Canon and Nikon responded by introducing their own low-end models.

Overall the U.S. market grew by 5 percent in 2006, which is lower than the 21 percent growth recorded in 2005 and below IDC’s previous estimate of 8 percent growth for the year. Only about 15 percent of new cameras were sold to people who didn’t own a digital still camera with the remainder being replacement or supplemental models, said IDC. Looking ahead, the market research company said it expects shipments will be flat this year and then decline from 2008.

Top Ten Camera Makers in 2006 by U.S. Market Share

2005 Shipments 2005 Share 2006 Shipments 2006 share % Change in Shipments, 2005-2006
Canon 5,000,000 18 percent 6,068,500 20 percent 21 percent
Sony 4,780,000 17 percent 4,940,800 17 percent 3 percent
Kodak 7,050,000 25 percent 4,867,000 16 percent minus-31 percent
Nikon 2,326,400 8 percent 3,045,700 10 percent 31 percent
HP 2,130,600 8 percent 2,185,100 7 percent 3 percent
Olympus 1,964,800 7 percent 1,856,500 6 percent minus-5 percent
Samsung 680,500 2 percent 1,496,400 5 percent 120 percent
Fujifilm 1,780,600 6 percent 1,444,700 5 percent minus-19 percent
Panasonic 350,000 1 percent 1,046,300 3 percent 199 percent
Casio 405,000 1 percent 955,000 3 percent 136 percent

Source: IDC

IDC is owned by International Data Group, which also owns IDG News Service and Macworld .

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