The point and shoot camera market has collapsed impacting several brands, but one of the big losers appears to be Canon who have to date refused to deliver a mirrorless camera despite massive sales growth for the category.Canon, who is still selling traditional SLR camera’s, is believed to be facing sales declines in Australia of over 32%.
Nikon, who recently launched a mirrorless camera, is also benefiting from a decision to match the grey pricing of JB HiFi fully imported digital cameras.
During the next week profit results out of Japan will reveal that camera makers such as Panasonic, Sony and Olympus have struggled to eke out profits from the highly competitive point-and-shoot segment claims the Wall Street Journal.
Nikon on the other hand has fought back with their J1 mirrorless single-lens reflex digital camera which is appealing to women due to the introduction of non-traditional camera colours such as “fiery pink” and “sensual brown.”
In Australia Canon Australia sales are believed to be down significantly due in part to consumers choosing to purchase Canon products online at prices significantly cheaper than what Canon Australia is selling the same products for in country.
To reverse their fortunes, Canon is waging a war in the higher-end market against Nikon who has had a lot of success with their digital SLR offerings including their new Nikon d800.
Canon currently sells around 75% of the world’s single-lens-reflex cameras and is coming under a lot of pressure as professional photographers move to upgrade their current models.
The Wall Street Journal said that the challengers are hoping to gain market share from an emerging type of camera that packs high-end features into a compact design. Like SLRs, these cameras come with large sensors and interchangeable lenses that produce high-quality images. But they don’t have the conventional mirror-based viewfinders that reflect the image to the photographer’s eye. Instead, the image is digitised, allowing for a more compact body.
Canon Australia executives would not make themselves available to talk about the issue of pricing or falling sales. They have also refused to discuss the issue of grey importing or why they are unable to match the same pricing that Nikon is now offering JB Hi Fi.
At the bottom end of the market, Canon is also facing pressure from a new generation of Smartphones–or their lack of a mirrorless model–which is proving popular for brands like Olympus, Nikon, Samsung and Panasonic.
Shipments of compact cameras declined last year, while mirrorless camera’s nearly doubled from the previous year, with projections of a fivefold increase by 2015, according to market-research firm IDC.
While SLRs are still doing well, shipments of mirrorless cameras are projected to increase double during the next 12 months according to IDC. In Japan mirrorless camera sales make up more than 50% of the market vs. around 23% in Australia.
“It’s given the industry a jolt,” said Chris Chute, research manager at IDC’s digital-imaging practice. “It resets the bar for what the high-end experience will be like.”
An early entrant into the mirrorless camera market in Australia has been Panasonic who globally claims that sales of their mirrorless cameras rose 67%.
Panasonic, which introduced the market’s first mirrorless compact system camera four years ago, said it took lessons it learned in Japan to sell its Lumix cameras to Australians.
The WSJ said that initially the company struggled, because it was targeting “everybody,” said Shiro Kitajima, the head of Panasonic’s consumer marketing the USA. Panasonic found in market research that women wanted to take better pictures without having to carry a bulky camera.
Panasonic targeted women in print and online advertisements on maternity and beauty sites. It also focused on selling the mirrorless cameras in stores frequented more often by women, rather than the male-dominated battleground of camera or electronics shops.
The strategy was a success. Panasonic said typically about 75% of SLR customers are male, but nearly 70% of the buyers of its mirrorless cameras are female.
“Nikon and Canon have a long legacy for SLRs. We don’t want to play on the same ground,” Mr. Kitajima said. “We tried to play it on our ground.”
Nikon joined the mirrorless fray with its Nikon 1 series in October.
Canon remains the only major camera manufacturer absent from the segment. Many industry watchers expect Canon to release a mirrorless model this year.