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Camera makers say cheese

business Updated: Apr 30, 2010 22:06 IST
HT Correspondent

With easy-to-shoot compact cameras getting smarter and cheaper at the same time, the game is decidedly shifting in favour of manufacturers, who are smelling a high-growth opportunity in targeting households across India, aiming that it would soon match China in potential and opportunity.

The revolution is helped by the fact that the penetration of the Internet and sites such as Facebook, Orkut, Flickr help families and friends share pictures easily, either in specialised sites or on social networking platforms where photos can be shared.

With only three per cent of households estimated to have been penetrated by compact cameras, the market size for the segment in India put at Rs 1,400 crore per annum with 1.4 million units sold.

Compare that with China, which has a household penetration of 16 per cent. Camera makers expect and hope that India will catch up with China by 2015, which means the next five years will be of dizzy growth.

The market here, say experts, is growing at 50 per cent in unit terms and will touch Rs 2,000 crore by 2010.

The market is crowded with consumer electronics brands and old camera labels both joining the new digital game. Fuji, Nikon, Kodak, Sony, Canon and Samsung are among the key battlers.

For instance, you can get under Rs. 8,500 a 14-megapixel camera that is more than four times higher in clarity to the old average film-based print.

Market estimates say that Kodak has a 21 per cent share in India, while Sony leads with 42 per cent and Canon holds 14 per cent. But industry researcher IDC put Nikon as a new leader in the January-March quarter.

Kodak India, which according to market estimates enjoys a 21 per cent market share, second to Sony with a leadership share of an estimated 42 per cent, and followed by Canon with just over 14 per cent market share. Nikon, which has emerged as a new contender, had 13 per cent in the latest quarter.

Newcomer Nikon has undertaken a major exercise to penetrate deeper in smaller cities and towns. From just two distributors in 2007 it has grown to a 25-distributor network. Some Nikon models even have wi-fi capability that helps cameras link to Internet connections.

"Awareness about digicams has increased and has in turn helped the digicam market grow. As differences between the prices of Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) and P&S (point and shoot) cameras becomes narrower, a new category of digital camera with features of DSLR within the P&S price range is expected to become mainstream in 2010,” said Pankaj Chawla, lead analyst, peripherals and accessories research, IDC India.

Upscale Kodak is going downmarket.

Seeing the Internet drive demand for digital pictures, it has dished out a range of social networking-centric digicams to drive up its market share.

“We believe the mega-pixel race is over. The differentiator now is smart sharing.,” said Ravi Karamcheti, Managing Director, Kodak India. The company has launched nine models in the price range Rs 5,000 to Rs 19,000.

Sony India recently introduced a series of Cyber-shot cameras in the price band in the Rs. 7,000 to Rs. 30,000 range.

“The demographic that is driving the rise of new high-tech products is skewed towards a younger crowd. Our target audiences are trendy youngsters,” said Tadato Kimura, General Manager, Marketing, Sony India. The company is aiming for a 45 per cent share.

Samsung India and Canon India are gunning at a premium consumer group. Samsung, with around 8 per cent market share, recently introduced compact models in the Rs. 8,000-21,000 range. It even has Hindi and Tamil menus on some models.

“We have grown by 60 per cent in Q1, 2010 over the corresponding period last year and expect to close the year with a 20 per cent market share in the Digital Still Camera market,” said Ravinder Zutshi, deputy managing director, Samsung India.

Canon India is betting on “style and functionality.”