The iPhone has wiped out the digital camera market

The digital camera industry sold 120m+ units a decade ago. Last year, it sold 9m…


February 8, 2021

Say “total industry wipeout” on three. (Source: OM)

Whenever people want to make fun of a stodgy old corporation that couldn’t see the future, they love referencing the camera maker Kodak.

But Kodak wasn’t the only old dog taken out by the digital camera revolution: All camera companies have now fallen to the iPhone.

Last year, only 9m cameras were sold, down from 122m in 2010, per tech journalist (and Gigamon founder) Om Malik.

Meanwhile, Apple moved 200m+ iPhones in 2020

While there are countless other camera-enabled smartphones, the iPhone — which has sold 1B+ units since launching in 2007 — clearly leads the pack.

Here’s how Malik thinks digital cameras will shake out moving forward:

  • Big players: At <10m units per year, the 4 big digital camera makers (Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Sony) will be fighting over scraps. Sony is best positioned to thrive, but not as a camera maker: It supplies camera sensors to everyone, including Apple.
  • Niche players: Super high-end cameras (Leica, Hasselblad, Phase One) will maintain share with pros and super-hobbyists.

As for Kodak, the company was last in the news for potential insider trading when the Trump administration awarded it $765m to make COVID-related pharmaceuticals.

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