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Report Claims Only Nikon, Canon and Sony Will Survive the Smartphone Revolution

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The camera industry is turning into a two-tier market, with Canon, Nikon and Sony DSLRs at the top, smartphones at the bottom and nothing in the middle, according to a recent Reuters report that finds little traction for mid-tier camera makers counting on mirrorless to save the day.

Panasonic, Fujifilm and Olympus are all losing money on cameras, according to the report, and don’t have any immediate prospects of turning that around as global mirrorless sales stagnate and the market for compact camera evaporates at an alarming pace.

“If you look mid-to-long term, digital camera makers are slipping and the market is becoming an oligopoly,” Credit Suisse imaging analyst Yu Yoshida told Reuters. “Only those who have a strong brand and are competitive on price will last — and only Canon, Nikon and Sony fulfill that criteria.”

panasonicl1Some numbers:

  • Global sales of compact cameras are expected to fall 40 percent this year to 59 million units.
  • Panasonic camera sales dropped 40 percent just in the period from April to September 2013.
  • Mirrorless has only really caught on in Japan, where it accounts for 36 percent of shipments of interchangeable-lens cameras. By comparison, mirrorless market share is a paltry 10.5 and 11.2 percent in the U.S. and Europe, respectively.
  • Mirrorless sales in the U.S. dropped 20 percent during the holiday shopping season, while DSLR sales climbed 1 percent.

Analysts say Canon and Nikon can get by on advanced camera sales. Otherwise, the prize will go to the camera maker that comes up with a bridge between the image quality of advanced cameras and the connectivity (easy Instagram and Facebook uploads) of smartphones.

According to the report, Sony is the only one to make a mark there with its surprisingly in-demand line of QX lens/camera thingies.

(via Chicago Tribune/Reuters)