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Nikkei: “Panasonic, Nikon quit developing low-end compact digital cameras”

Nikkei reports:

  • Japanese camera manufacturers are bidding farewell to a once-major component of their operations, with Panasonic Holdings and Nikon suspending development of entry-level point-and-shoot cameras under their flagship brands.
    The companies will instead focus resources on pricier mirrorless models going forward, aiming to navigate a market upended by smartphones.
  • Fujifilm has discontinued production of its FinePix compact cameras and will develop only the X100V series and other pricier models.
  • Canon has not released any new Ixy cameras since 2017. But the company acknowledges that “entry-level models continue to enjoy persistent support, so we’ll continue development and production as long as there is demand.”
  • Sony Group has not offered any new compact models under its Cyber-shot brand since 2019, although a spokesperson said that “it’s not that we’ll stop developing new products.” Casio Computer halted production of Exilim cameras in 2018.

NIkkei analyzed the situation:

Camera makers had long competed with one another by increasing the number of pixels and by shrinking the size of their devices. But then smartphones came along, offering apps for editing pictures and allowing photos to be easily shared with family and friends. This changed the way people took photos.

Smartphone makers are racing to offer advanced photography features in their devices. “It’d be a challenge for camera makers to be successful with keeping their compact digital camera businesses,” said analyst Ichiro Michikoshi of research firm BCN.

Compact digital models accounted for 36% of global digital camera shipments in 2021, according to CIPA. The broader camera market will likely shrink even faster with Japanese companies, many of them big players, scaling back operations in compact digital models.

The bright spot is the mirrorless segment, with global shipments jumping 31% on the year to 324.5 billion yen in 2021. Mirrorless single-lens models offer fat margins, and users replacing lenses and other parts will keep contributing to the manufacturers’ bottom lines.

Retailers are focusing on this segment as well. “These days we recommend mirrorless cameras even to novice photographers,” said a salesperson at electronics and appliance retailer Joshin Denki.

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