CIPA (Camera & Imaging Products Association, Japan) published their latest statistics yesterday. It goes to show how ever deeper the decline of Japanese camera industry is. One person asked me why I care, we can go on shooting as usual? Sure, our cameras keep on working, both of us are not really affected.
Still there are consequences. The first is of course inside camera industry. Smaller and diminishing market cuts R&D. Product development slows down, life span of cameras grow longer. We are heading back to old days when 10 years was not much for a camera. Smaller market makes it less interesting and some companies will leave. Most Japanese camera brands come from minor divisions inside bigger companies or concerns. Nikon is an exception, 98% of it´s profit (per end of 2013) comes from their camera division. The other two divisions are small and the other one of them is almost as much negative as the other is positive. Nikon has so far been succesfull at cutting costs with lesser sales. Nikon also is a wealthy company after several good years, it will not be the one to fall first. But some will when the big boss says that enough is enough, losing money in camera business is over now.
Next in chain is price. Camera prices will go up because smart phones have eaten the market for cheap ones. It is better to make less with higher profit. This has already started as both the average price and positioning of new cameras climb higher.
Then there are camera magazines and camera stores. There will be less readers, less buyers. The days when every high school girl had a Canon EOS DSLR are over. There will be far less newcomers. Photography is on it´s way back to be a specialist hobby. All the others just go happily snapping with their smart phones. There will also be less advertising. I would say the days of printed camera magazines are over very soon. Specialty stores in bigger cities will live on, others not.
The 12 year boom of photography is over! The good thing might be that from now on people discuss more about photographs than cameras. Actually that will not happen, there will always be more camera enthusiasts than hobby photographers, but maybe the craziest hype finally settles down.