As you can see from the infographic, the amount of total cameras manufactured by year dropped from 121 million in 2010 to only 23 million in 2016. That’s a huge change, and the number of manufactured cameras was reduced more than five times in only 6 years.
The decline is found in other areas as well. Compared to 2015, in 2016 there was 35% drop in shipped cameras, which is pretty significant. There is also 12% decrease in shipped lenses. Between 2013 and 2016, there’s 4% decrease in mirrorless and 17% in DSLR cameras produced.
Probably won't surprise anyone that point and shoot cameras are a dead market. Anyone who has gotten a high end smartphone this past year can understand why the market for hobbyist DSLRs is also a dead market. The authors of the article give the following reasons for the decline:
1.Smartphones killed the compact camera market – you’ve got to admit there are more and more smartphone photographers. Compared to 2015, there was a 5% increase in smartphone sales in 2016. And to be fair, phone cameras do get better and better. But we’ll get to this again later.
2. Mirrorless aren’t fulfilling their promise – as I’ve followed Nikon quite devotedly over the past couple of years, I still remember the fuss when their first mirrorless camera was released. According to LensVid, mirrorless manufacturers tend to make a lot of noise about these cameras, yet they stay stagnant.
3. The DSLR market is shrinking – this is quite obvious, but contrary from the common opinion, it’s not only because of the rise of the mirrorless. It’s probably the combination of reasons. Beginners rather choose to stick with their smartphone camera than buying a DSLR, which wasn’t the case only a few years back. As I mentioned earlier, the phone cameras keep getting better, and you can get a decent photo quality. And they are certainly going to improve even further. So, many people choose to keep on shooting on their smartphone instead of investing in a new camera.
4. Cameras are for older people – this is an interesting point of view. You can’t see it in the numbers, but look around you. Aside from professionals, a younger generation isn’t generally interested in cameras. They prefer using their smartphones for taking photos. This is not the case only when taking snapshots, but even at the point when they actually get interested in photography.
I would add one more to the list. Software and user interface design. Cameras have long been plagued with some of the most opaque interfaces imaginable. Smartphones have drastically improved this and the camera makers have failed to respond in any fashion. Add to that how photo organization is now completely automated on smartphones and stand alone cameras are still largely contingent on memory cards and physically connecting either the device or the card to a computer.
It's important to notice how long it took for the smartphone to displace cameras. 2010 was still a banner year for point and shoot cameras, setting a record with 120 million devices sold. Cameras with interchangeable lenses were still growing through 2012. Remember this when declaring winners in the autonomous car market.