The Facebook Effect on Digital Camera Sales in Asia Pacific

Doomsayers have been writing the obituary of digital cameras since the mid-2000s as mobile phones have increasingly been equipped with camera functionality boasting digital camera-like picture quality. Euromonitor International seeks to dispel the myth of digital cameras’ demise and reviews the positive impact of social networking on sales of digital cameras.

Mobile phones appear to be king

In Asia Pacific, there are seven mobile phone subscriptions for every 10 people, based on Euromonitor International’s research on Countries and Consumers. Developing markets like Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines are ahead or on par with technology kingpins like South Korea and Japan in terms of per capita mobile phone subscriptions. This is because consumers in developing markets are bypassing landlines in favour of mobile phones, due to the ease of mobile phone line applications compared to landlines. While China and India are ranked lower than other Asia Pacific countries in mobile phone subscriptions in per capita terms, China and India have the largest number of subscribers in absolute terms.

Social networking impacts positively on demand for digital cameras

It is commonly said that the best camera is the one you have on hand when you need to take a photo or video. For daily shoots and impromptu moments, a camera phone generally suffices and is readily on hand. But, consumers are increasingly posting photos on social networking sites like Facebook and on their own blogs, boosting demand for digital cameras. It would seem that camera phones and the social networking craze is a blessing in disguise for digital camera manufacturers. Suddenly, a larger pool of consumers who have caught the “shutter bug” is emerging, with these consumers seeking higher performance cameras as the shortfall of camera phones, under low light conditions and for capturing fast moving scenes like Formula 1 racing, becomes apparent.

Market leaders Canon, Sony and Panasonic, which controlled a combined 50% volume share of the digital cameras market in Asia Pacific in 2010, have been quick to latch onto the photography trend, with entry level DSLRs and new technology like Micro 4/3. Micro 4/3 cameras incorporate much of the performance of DSLRs, like interchangeable lenses, in much smaller form factor with an ease of use of point-and-shoot cameras. Micro 4/3 cameras are currently a hot favourite among consumers with Sony’s NEX 5 as one of the most popular models.

Companies race to take advantage of increased consumer interest

Canon, Sony and Panasonic also stand to benefit from additional revenue stream from sales of lenses and other accessories. Samsung, which is a relative unknown in the camera world, is aggressively pushing its NX range of digital cameras. Samsung’s share of Asia Pacific volume sales grew from 6% in 2007 to 9% in 2010.

In Asia Pacific, demand for digital cameras remains robust. The Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia are expected to be the top volume growth markets in the region in 2011. Coincidentally, these markets also rank amongst the top 10 global markets visiting Facebook. The Philippines is ranked number one, with nearly 93% of its online population visiting the social networking site in February 2011, according to comScore Media Metrix. Euromonitor International forecasts that Asia Pacific’s volume sales of digital cameras will increase by around 7% in both 2011 and 2012. Digital cameras are enjoying a new lease of life, in part due to the combined effects of social networking and the limited quality of camera phones.