Pockets of Growth and Dynamic Innovation Drive Industry Optimism
It’s safe to say the imaging industry is not what it used to be. We’ve had to adapt to the world of disruptive technologies that have made some of our products obsolete. At the same time, they have also spurred consumers to take more images than ever before.
This change has certainly caused us to step back and reevaluate what is important, and also what will continue to propel us forward.
The leaders of our industry have offered their insights on the following pages, and you’ll note that innovation, customer relationships, education, as well as exceeding customer expectations are familiar themes. But what impressed me most is the continued optimism that is pervasive and inspiring.
According to the NPD Group, sales of mirrorless cameras have grown 28% in the last 12 months, and sales of cameras priced over $1,000 have increased 30%. This suggests the continue growth of imaging as a hobby. What is driving this growth is a continual stream of product innovations that have been the hallmark of the imaging industry for decades.
We can now offer today’s consumers images they could only dream about just a short time ago. And 360º imaging is approaching mainstream status, with applications that go beyond adventure into areas such as live streaming and home security.
In addition, the rapid adoption of drones has made it clear that both recreational and professional customers already see them as a key part of their imaging toolbox.
While smartphones have all but replaced the point-and-shoot camera market, their usefulness as a sharing mechanism has also driven the hobby of image sharing to new heights. Our continued willingness to accept them as a viable replacement to the lower end market with the hopes of using them as stepping-stones to higher end cameras will only be good news for our industry.
With the incredible number of images being taken each day, one true opportunity resides in our expertise to help consumers store, organize, archive and also print their own family histories. If only consumers knew where to find all their precious photos.
“The imaging industry needs to make it simple for people to find, preserve and share their best photo stories,” says APPO founder Cathi Nelson. Retailers should embrace not only the images that will be taken tomorrow but also the billions of images that reside on hard drives, CDs and in the cloud that can contribute to profits.
Let us also not forget the importance of relationship marketing, which some mention as the key to success in our industry. “While the customer changes, some things remain constant, including the need for education, inspiration and products that exceed customer expectations,” mentions Nikon’s Jay Vannatter. Additionally, Sony’s Neal Manowitz notes their “drive to always keep the customer at the center of our innovation.”
Manfrotto’s Adam Mirabella looks toward innovation as a driving force. “What hasn’t changed is the importance of innovation and R&D. Throughout the history of our business, only the truly innovative companies stand the test of time.”
In the many conversations I’ve had with retailers and manufacturers over the course of the last 12 months, I find that innovation is certainly the key factor to drive our industry forward. But not only product innovation—also innovation in the way we sell our products and how retailers respond to the changing media and buying habits of the next superpower of buyers: millennials.
The world has changed. Understanding and responding to this group—by going to them rather than waiting for them to come to you—could bring a new generation of consumers into this industry that will continue to grow for years to come.
I’d like to thank the industry leaders who have generously contributed to our 2016 State of the Industry issue, and I appreciate the candor and foresight they have offered to our readers.—Jerry Grossman
Mark Sherengo, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, ALLie Camera
Educate Consumers on the Benefits of Advancing Technologies
While there has been a fundamental shift in photography due to the ability to instantly snap and share photos from a smartphone, we’re now seeing some of the most incredible digital imaging advances, like 3D, 360º imaging and live streaming.
360º-capable cameras in particular are already disrupting the IP and monitoring market, and live broadcasting is providing a whole new way to share. At ALLie Camera, our focus is to provide countless ways for consumers to utilize 360º video and one-click live streaming at home. Since the technology is completely app driven, the possibilities are endless for bringing new experiences to users—whether it’s giving them peace of mind to see every inch of their child’s room when they’re not there or being able to live stream a birthday party in 360º for friends and relatives across the world.
The first time consumers were able to see an instant digital photo, it had a huge impact on the industry. Now, you can take a photo in full 360º and have complete control over how you view and share it, profoundly shaking up the industry again. To stay ahead, companies need to educate consumers on the benefits of these advancing technologies. Retailers like Best Buy—who were one of the first to carry 360º cameras—are now seeing the financial benefits of being ahead of the game. Over the next 18 months, we will see more retailers getting into this growing market, as more consumers use this new tech. allie.camera
Eliott Peck, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Imaging Technologies and Communications Group, Canon USA; Chairman and CEO, Canon Information Technology Services
Personalization and Customization Will Drive Industry Growth
There is no escaping the reality that alternative imaging technologies have affected almost every segment of our business. However, not entirely in a negative way. Image creation is now an integral part of everyone’s life, and the passion to capture and share is more pervasive today than ever before.
Imaging tools are no longer purely defined as a camera or camcorder dedicated to only documenting a special moment or family event. Imaging devices are taking unique forms, quickly adapting to capture our world and lives in ways we could not imagine a few years ago. We now have video-equipped drones that follow us, underwater robotic cameras like those used to capture the recent swimming and diving events in Brazil, and even refrigerators that come with an internal camera.
As an industry, collectively we make remarkable high-quality imaging products. For example, the EOS-1D X Mark II shoots at 14 frames per second, Cinema EOS cameras record in 4K, and imaging sensors have reached a stage where they exceed the capabilities of the human eye in low light.
These evolutionary technologies are truly remarkable but still fall short of meeting demands to intuitively connect and integrate into our lifestyles. Yes, there have been incremental improvements with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC connectivity. However, in my opinion, more personalization and customization are needed to drive new demand and industry growth.
Additionally, we must continue to invest in end-user education and support initiatives. There should be comprehensive and stress-free service and support at every level and at every touch point for our customers. And it’s crucial to provide compelling and engaging education that not only explains complex technology but also, most importantly, teaches and inspires consumers to utilize high-quality imaging and printing products.
When looking toward the future, a main goal at Canon is to always satisfy consumer demand for innovative high-quality imaging products from entry level to professional. We are also looking outside the world of traditional imaging to leverage our core expertise in optics, sensors, processors, printing and low-light imaging solutions to launch new businesses, such as medical, security, surveillance, mixed reality and soon-to-come 8K imaging. usa.canon.com
Adam Lisberg, Corporate Communication Director, North America, DJI Technology Inc.
Drone Innovations Complement Those of the Imaging Industry
It has taken just a few short years for consumer drones to develop from a hobbyist curiosity to a mainstay of the digital imaging world. The rapid adoption of quadcopter drones—and the handheld stabilization systems they have inspired—has made clear that both recreational and professional customers already see them as a key part of their imaging toolbox going forward.
At DJI, which holds some 70% of the world drone market, we expect to see rapid adoption of drones in business, governmental, agricultural, nonprofit and academic use over the next 18 months. Product cycles in the drone industry move quickly—closer to cell phone speed than DSLR speed. And DJI expects to continue leading the pack in innovation.
For the existing players in the imaging industry, it is critical to accept that drone innovations are a complement to their efforts.
Forward-thinking photo dealers are already trying to set themselves apart with knowledgeable sales and service staff. They will be the ones best able to establish themselves as trusted guides for new purchasers over what will be a busy 18 months ahead.
Innovators are developing new uses for drones every day. And the benefits of safe, efficient and effective drone flight are increasingly making their way into the mainstream. In addition, we expect the FAA’s new Part 107 rules, which lower the barriers to entry for non-recreational use, will accelerate this process and create new opportunities for the imaging industry as a whole. dji.com
Manny Almeida, Division President, Imaging Division, Fujifilm North America Corporation
Creating a Photo Renaissance
As the imaging industry has evolved, Fujifilm is leading a change in the photo market that customers are responding to in some enthusiastic and surprising ways.
In the last year, Fujifilm has begun to focus on creating a Photo Renaissance—a rebirth of the enjoyment of photography. One of the most exciting examples of this—a convergence of smartphone, instant and DIY photography—is the new Fujifilm Wonder Photo Shop in the heart of the iconic Flatiron District in New York City. Our new Wonder Photo Shop is designed to provide a comfortable, fun and unique space that allows consumers to express their photography with a range of DIY and scrapbooking products.
What we are seeing is amazing, particularly among the younger generation and their interest in Instax cameras and Share printers, which continues to grow. For millennials, the enthusiasm behind instant printing is not about photography but rather a fun, easy and instant way to share fantastic prints.
The digital imaging industry has also changed significantly since the market for film peaked in 2002. Smartphones are now the prominent source of photography for many consumers. While this trend has presented challenges to the industry, it has also opened the door to new and exciting opportunities for innovation.
Coincidently, we are seeing growth in the professional film market as well, as photographers try to differentiate themselves through the art of shooting on film. This is especially true for weddings and other luxury events where the opportunity for business is strong.
Looking ahead, we see these trends building, as consumers explore their photo interests and the tools they enjoy using the most. fujifilmusa.com
Lon Mass, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, JVC Professional Video
Share Live Video through Social Media
In 2002, JVCKENWOOD introduced Streamcorder, the world’s first streaming camcorder. Back then, video-over-IP was still a new technology. Today, streaming has become an integral part of the social media landscape, thanks to content-sharing websites like YouTube and Facebook.
JVCKENWOOD has developed a lineup of professional camcorders with integrated video-over-IP technology. Convenient phone cameras do also play an important role. But videographers prefer the traditional handheld style of cameras and want more when streaming sports, school plays, worship services and broadcast news. JVC offers affordable professional cameras with variable wide-to-telephoto lenses and other features that help video productions look and sound their best.
The GY-HM200, for example, has a 1/2.3-inch BSI CMOS chip and a built-in 12x zoom lens (24x dynamic zoom in HD mode) with an optical image stabilizer. Connect the camera with Wi-Fi or 4G LTE and its built-in streaming protocols let users stream live HD with a push of a button while recording on cost-effective SD media cards.
Additionally, last year, we introduced a great new feature with the GY-HM200SP sports production camcorder. It can produce custom score graphic overlays as part of a live HD stream for a variety of sports. We have also previewed the technology to create custom overlays for other markets and applications. These graphic overlays have received enthusiastic comments and attention from the sports community. Watch for this to evolve as we move forward with the next generation of professional video camcorders. jvc.com
Bradley Lautenbach, Senior Vice President, Marketing + Product Design, Light
Solving the Photographer’s Dilemma
In today’s mobile world, we increasingly face the photographer’s dilemma: take a mediocre picture with the phone in our pocket or take a beautiful, high-quality photograph with a heavy, bulky DSLR? This is the modern era question that we face as photographers (and I don’t just mean the pros)—especially since we can’t always anticipate the life moments that we’ll want to capture.
The legacy camera industry knows it must find a way to end the quality versus convenience trade-off, yet innovation has been slow. Computational imaging is the answer, and Light has the solution.
Much in the way vinyl record players have become nostalgia items, so too will single optical chain cameras. In short, the computational future is on the horizon. And industry players who have not yet started developing computational imaging solutions are being left behind. We’re seeing growing interest in high-quality smartphone cameras, with dual-lens configurations on phones like the LG G5 and Huawei P9. But these developments ultimately underwhelm because they fail to realize their full computational potential.
At Light, we’ve been able to merge two advancements—computational imaging software and high-quality mobile camera modules—to create the L16 camera. The L16 captures light through multiple apertures and uses folded optics to bounce light through slim, horizontally positioned lens barrels before reaching an optical sensor. It has one sensor for each aperture. We then use sophisticated imaging algorithms to assemble these multiple exposures into one super-high-quality image. The L16 has opened the door for the future of photography, and we can’t wait to show the world what’s next for imaging. light.co
Jay Vannatter, Senior Vice President, Sales, Marketing & Communications, Nikon Inc.
Adapting to the Evolving Customer, Engaging New Consumers
The imaging industry will continue to change, but as long as people are passionate about creating and sharing memories, there will be opportunities for growth. Nikon is an established brand with a large customer base. We recently surpassed 100 million NIKKOR lenses produced, and we will celebrate our 100th anniversary in 2017. These are significant milestones that demonstrate the brand heritage. Legacy leads to customer loyalty.
Nikon will continue to invest in the future as we see opportunities to adapt to the current customer who is evolving. And we will engage new consumers who are expressing themselves through images.
We see a significant amount of smartphone users upgrading to sub-$500 DSLRs and expect that trend will continue. With more photos being captured than ever, consumers want a way to instantly share images. The new Nikon SnapBridge is that balance of simplicity and quality people have been waiting for. This is while photo enthusiasts look for exciting new products and technology to feed their passion.
For retailers, product introductions such as the D5 and D500 drive consumers into stores and create the opportunity for significant dollar volume and increased loyalty through great customer service.
While declines will continue with compact DSCs, unique products like the COOLPIX P900 captivate consumers. We are planning a major product launch for the Nikon KeyMission, which has real potential to offset the declines in the compact DSC market. Virtual reality has the possibility to be a game changer in the imaging business. And our marketing spend will reflect our excitement for this new category. KeyMission is just one way we are adapting to meet the needs of a changing market.
While the customer changes, some things remain constant, including the need for education, inspiration and products that exceed customer expectations. Retailers should continue to be a vast resource for consumers of all photography levels, reaching new types of customers while retaining their core. Photo specialty retailers have the ability to stock a wide variety of products, delivering on immediate availability to drive purchases and ultimately help grow a customer base.
Finally, while events in Kumamoto have disrupted our supply chain, Nikon has weathered numerous natural disasters in recent memory. We have learned that the effects are short term; the brand will rise above, and we anticipate a robust holiday season. nikonusa.com
Julien Sauvagnargues, President, Consumer Products Group, Olympus America Inc.
The Mass to Specialty Market Inflection Point Has Arrived
It is now very clear to us that the imaging industry is moving from a mass market to a specialty market. Within this emerging specialty market there is a combination of several additional design- and feature-innovation-driven trends working to fulfill the various needs of specific consumers.
The Olympus PEN-F is a new camera that is the perfect embodiment of this trend. The PEN-F was developed for street photographers and creators who truly appreciate well-designed, extremely portable cameras capable of making incredible pictures.
Similarly, the TG-Tracker, another recent introduction of ours, is performing well because it has delivered key innovation to a segment that is saturated by the competition.
Olympus will remain focused on the quality and technology of its cameras and lenses as the key factors for generating consumer interest. Products like the PEN-F, the TG-Tracker and our M.ZUIKO PRO line of lenses are part of the focus on successful products designed expressly for a specific audience. This audience is dedicated to photography and will continue to seek and enjoy products that enhance the photo experience beyond the capabilities of their mobile device’s camera.
And in recent years, the mirrorless camera segment continues to evolve its market share as the demand for compact, high-quality cameras grows. In the U.S. market, the percentage of the mirrorless segment is still a lower share of overall camera market sales when compared to Asia and Europe, so we believe there is still room for growth in our region. olympusamerica.com
Darin Pepple, Senior Consumer Marketing Manager, Imaging, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company
Evolving with Innovative Technology and Retailer Support
Panasonic’s imaging business has had great success by delivering groundbreaking technology to benefit both the consumer and professional photographer/videographer.
Our exclusive “4K PHOTO” advancement guaranteed users would never again miss that one special moment. Our assortment was further enhanced with an additional feature called “POST FOCUS.”
This function allows the photographer to choose in-camera exactly what portion of the image is in sharp focus after it’s captured.
Added to that are the 29 high-quality Micro Four Thirds lenses in the Panasonic/Leica lens lineup, giving consumers everything they need to capture stunning stills and video. And, the technology that was originally available only for our high-end cameras and camcorders is nearly available across the entire LUMIX G series.
As this is a photokina year, there promises to be a season of big camera announcements. We are looking forward to continued changes in the market that our technology will deliver through the continued evolution of exciting new camera and firmware updates. Going forward, Panasonic will continue to innovate with state-of-the-art technology and support for its authorized retailers with great new products and programs. panasonic.com
Scott W. Hardy, President and CEO, Polaroid
Recreating the Magic of Photography for the Digital World
To say the world of imaging has evolved is an understatement, and there’s no brand that knows this better than Polaroid. As we approach our 80th anniversary, we find ourselves marketing to an entirely new type of consumer, which we refer to as digital natives. These are the millennials and younger individuals who were born in the digital era and for whom it’s second nature to connect and share with others.
At Polaroid, we challenge ourselves and our strategic partners to develop exciting products that not only fit our brand DNA of instant gratification, sharing and fun, but also deliver an experience these consumers are searching for. It starts with design—and ensuring we have well-designed products that trigger an emotional response among consumers.
We want consumers to be drawn to products, such as our digital instant camera, the Polaroid Snap. It boasts a fun and exciting design that’s unlike anything else on the market.
We also want to appeal to the desire to share content and connect with others, which is why we’ve explored the world of apps. Through Polaroid Swing, we’re giving consumers the ability to capture a moment in time and bring it to life by interacting with the photo—simply by swinging the phone from side to side.
This type of engagement with an image is reminiscent of the days of analog instant photography, where consumers would spend time with a photo, watching it develop. It was magic, and we’re recreating that for today’s digital world. polaroid.com
Kaz Eguchi, President, Ricoh Imaging Americas
The Industry Is Getting Exciting Again, After Some Uncertain Years
Advanced technologies and the widespread availability of broadband, cloud-based and connected services are driving change. Key to market acceptance, however, will be uniquely capable products that combine innovation, quality and value. We have been proud to roll out three new products that meet these criteria during the past 12 months. They are the Ricoh Theta S spherical imaging camera, the PENTAX K-1 full-frame DSLR and the PENTAX 645Z, our critically acclaimed medium-format system.
It has been especially rewarding to see the industry start to catch on to alternative imaging approaches, such as the 360º spherical format that Ricoh pioneered when it announced its first Theta camera in 2013. We believe this evolutionary category—which is enabling consumers and pros alike to contribute to the emerging worlds of AR and VR—offers tremendous growth potential. Ricoh has been very pleased with the market demand for our Theta S, which we made available in late 2015.
We have been working with our retail partners to educate customers on the possibilities of 360º photos and videos. And we have been participating in conferences, trade shows and dealer shows to help foster understanding and spread the appeal to both the consumer and commercial markets.
We were thrilled to follow up the success of the Theta S with an equally popular product for a very different market: the pro and prosumer shooter. The feature-packed and recently launched PENTAX K-1, our first full-frame digital single-lens reflex camera, is seeing impressive interest, and dealers are reporting steady interest and sales. We are pleased that the K-1 is everything that dealers and our loyal PENTAX community expected and more.
Finally, Ricoh continues to have great success with the PENTAX 645Z, which combines top-of-the-line quality with an exceptional price point. It is introducing a whole new generation of pros to the incredible dynamic range, color rendition and sharpness of medium format.
We are optimistic about the road ahead and believe that delivering consumers and pros innovative features, quality and value will continue to be our keys to success. ricohimaging.com
Mark Amir-Hamzeh, President, Sigma Corporation of America
Seize Opportunities to Foster Sales and Customer Relations
Relationship marketing is the key to success in our imaging industry. At Sigma, we take this concept to a higher level. We constantly interact with our customers, learning more about how they’re evolving as image creators and specifically any new imaging areas they’re getting into, so we can better anticipate and serve their needs.
We listen intently to what our customers say through a wide variety of channels. These include: posts on social media such as Facebook and Twitter; communications with our customer service department; one-on-one discussions at trade shows; comments on product reviews; chats with our tech reps at dealer events around the country; feedback from our Sigma Pros who teach at seminars and hands-on workshops; and notes from photo school instructors who are deeply involved with their students’ latest projects.
Of course, we receive direct feedback from our U.S. Sigma and dealer sales teams, and also from our other international sales organization, as the inception of some trends can be highly regionalized.
When we analyze all this info that comes in, we’ve often been surprised by new uses of our products, and emerging mini trends. A good example of both is the increasing use of our Art lenses, in particular the 18–35mm and 50–100mm Art lenses, for DSLR videography.
As overall DSLR sales continue to soften, and the mirrorless sector expands, trends like this show that dealers still have ample opportunities to foster sales and enrich their contact with their customers. Ultimately, that is what will grow the overall imaging business that we all love and share in. sigmaphoto.com
Neal Manowitz, Vice President, Digital Imaging, Sony North America
Excited about the Evolution of Imaging Technology
We all agree that change is the only constant in our industry. And change always uncovers opportunities to thrive and succeed, especially if we remain strategic, focused and innovative. Over the past year, Sony has received great response to its focus on pushing the boundaries of content creation, and the drive to always keep the customer at the center of our innovation.
Take, for instance, our innovations in 4K video capture, which have initiated seismic shifts in the movie industry. Filmmakers are adopting our α7 series cameras because they are more flexible, can be used in low light and save money on production. To quote one of our cinematographers: “It’s impractical to light an entire mountain—but with the α7S II you don’t need to.”
With a camera that can turn night into day, the creative possibilities are endless. And the costs saved by using natural light are significant. We expect 4K video capture to continue growing among both professionals and enthusiasts, and to take over as the preferred video format in the midterm.
Another example of our drive to innovate is the acclaimed α6300 camera. With its lightning-fast autofocus, 425 phase-detection AF points and high-density tracking AF technology, it has broken new ground in the market’s transition from DSLRs to mirrorless. Additionally, our new state-of-the-art G Master lenses maximize the performance of high-end mirrorless cameras, together resulting in an unbeatable imaging and video solution.
We’ve also added the RX10 III camera to our portfolio, which, with its 600mm-equivalent zoom range and high-precision 4K video capture, is a welcome companion for those who want a flexible, compact all-in-one device. We believe this intertwined use of full-frame, interchangeable-lens cameras and high-performance compact cameras will continue among photo and video professionals who find flexibility key to prolific content creation.
Despite the declines experienced by the industry over the past year, we continue to be excited about the evolution of imaging technology. Sony will remain committed to launching products that not only inspire existing photographers and videographers but also attract new customers into a previously intimidating market. We believe that manufacturers who follow this trend will continue to find success in the midst of a changing landscape. sony.com
Ed Lee, Group Director, InfoTrends Consumer and Professional Imaging Group
Today’s imaging environment is no longer “one size fits all.” Marketing messages, products and services need to be developed with specific audiences in mind. Two recent InfoTrends studies, which focus on interchangeable-lens cameras and millennials, reveal that generational differences have a significant influence on photographic behaviors.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, millennials (born circa 1981–2000) are not abandoning traditional photography and printing. They take 60% more photos annually—with their mobile devices and digital cameras—than their older counterparts.
Most millennials rely on their smartphones for taking pictures, but they see the value in traditional cameras. Their ownership of interchangeable-lens cameras is high (22%).
Of particular importance to print providers is the fact that millennials’ interest in printing is also high. They still print (at least occasionally), and there are signs that print habits may be increasing. They continue to be very photo active, sharing many of their images via social networks and mobile applications.
Generation Xers (born circa 1964–1980) are in their prime parenting years. Children have always been a driver for photography, which makes gen Xers a key target for capture, output and sharing vendors.
Many baby boomers (born circa 1946–1963) are now past their peak photo active years. They are becoming consumers of other people’s photos rather than generators of their own. So sharing photos (digitally and in print) with this generation grows in importance.
Looking forward to 2017, InfoTrends estimates that 200 billion photos will be captured in the U.S. We believe the companies that succeed will invest the time and resources to reach out to their prime customers and help them to discover the joy of taking, sharing and printing these photos. infotrends.com
William J. McCurry, Chairman, McCurry Associates
Be Creative and Bold to Grow Next-Gen Photographic Consumers
Our industry’s future walked into a small northwest camera store with her dad. She looked like a high school senior. Carrying a Canon AE-1, she said to the salesperson, “We found my mom’s camera. Dad thinks we need a battery. I need to learn how to load the film. I want to learn how to take good pictures with film.”
Yes, she had a smartphone. She wanted to stretch beyond her phone and enjoy the hobby of photography. Properly guided, her experiments with her film camera could lead to a lifelong passion for imaging. This is the photographic consumer of our future.
The salesperson took the time to explain how film worked, the loading/unloading process and the joy of composing the image and seeing the printed creation. The young lady left energized about the possibilities ahead. She may have attempted to learn this online. I don’t know. What I do know is her passion for experimenting with photography was fed by that small camera store salesperson.
The number of camera stores and acolytes of photography are dwindling. Many manufacturers are accelerating this trend with their policies. Some leading manufacturers are taking a more courageous route.
Tamron deserves a shout-out for paying instant savings at 100% and by check within five business days. Tamron’s management sees the long-term benefit of having financially viable retailers that can teach, coach and mentor photo hobbyists. They are resisting the enslavement of the delayed credit memo cycle that has driven many stores out of business.
Camera stores and labs are becoming more active in teaching, seminars, photo walks, photo experiences and meet ups. Midwest Photo opened their new store with a Gala Weekend where educational sessions were pre-sold out with standing room only crowds. After the classes, most of the customers wandered through the store and spent money on their hobby.
In the era in which sales of lenses, speedlights and camera bodies are declining, industry leaders do have a choice. Our industry can continue to drive our products into the dirt of commoditization and the resultant declining demand.
Or, we can be creative, energetic and bold. Who will grow and guide the next generation of photographic consumers? Will so-called “leaders” panic about this quarter’s earnings with shortsighted programs? Or will we plant seeds to allow an even greater harvest in the seasons to come? mccurryassoc.com
Ben Arnold, Executive Director, Industry Analyst, The NPD Group
The Digital Imaging Market Reflects the Interests of New Consumers
The past 12 months have been a dynamic time for the digital imaging market. New products like drones and 360º cameras have pushed the envelope of what image capture devices are capable of. Along the way, they also have engaged new segments of consumers.
For example, U.S. sales of drones have grown 254% in the 12 months ending in July, according to The NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service. And network cameras used for home security and monitoring, a relatively mature emerging imaging category, have increased 61% in the last year.
Even as emerging form factors continue to capture the minds of novice camera users and serious photographers alike, pockets of the traditional image capture market are growing. Sales of mirrorless, detachable-lens cameras have grown 28% in the 12 months ending in July. As a result, they now represent 22% of total detachable-lens sales.
While point-and-shoot cameras continue to face challenges from constantly improving smartphone cameras, sales of premium cameras priced above $1,000 have increased 30%, appealing to prosumer and professional users alike.
Despite the immense challenges in the market posed by the rise of mobile photography, imaging remains a hotbed for innovation—whether in the growing line of products and accessories or in constantly improving sensor technology.
Each new product category represents a found avenue for the image capture industry. But, more importantly, these new segments have reinvigorated the appeal for photography among consumers who may not fit the mold of the traditional camera buyer profile. npd.com
Hans Hartman, Founder, Suite 48 Analytics; Cochair, Mobile Photo Connect Conference
Mobile Imaging Innovations Go Way beyond Photo Apps
Today’s photographers have more solutions at their disposal than ever before for taking, enhancing, combining, sharing and printing their photos. There are mature solutions for each step of the traditional imaging workflow—such as DSLRs for capture, computer-based programs like Photoshop for enhancement, sites like Facebook or Flickr for sharing, and online services like Shutterfly or kiosk-equipped retailers like Walgreens for ordering photo products.
In addition, there are many solutions available for mobile imaging. An area I follow more closely, the speed of innovation in mobile imaging is nothing short of astounding.
Take capture. While smartphones are getting better and better cameras, there are also innovative action cam newcomers coming to market to take on GoPro. And there are drones available now at any imaginable price and quality level, wearable cameras that are making serious inroads, and a new flood of 360° cameras that let consumers create their own VR visuals.
Take photo enhancement. No matter how many photo apps with filter, collage, montage and various other enhancement features are already available in the app stores, innovative newcomers are still entering the market. We’ve recently seen this with the AI-based filter app Prisma, which became an instant hit the moment it was launched.
Take printing. Where until recently mobile print apps were relegated to single photo products (prints, postcards), easy-to-create print apps are now entering the market at a rapid pace. They offer solutions even for challenging multi-photo products, such as calendars and photo books.
Take sharing. Not all sharing needs are covered by the Facebooks and Snapchats of the world. Photo sharing is seeing especially rapid innovation for storytelling, photo/music/video mash-ups, photo-based messaging and VR visuals sharing.
My takeaway: if your company is somewhere in this value chain, stay on the lookout for what is trending, as well as what could come out of left field. They could be tomorrow’s winners! suite48a.com
Suzanne Seagle, Director, Marketing, DNP Imagingcomm America Corporation
Tangible Emotional Connections: The Driving Force Behind Print’s Comeback
Today’s digital world is inherently visual. Through the growth of social media and continued evolution of digital technologies, the world is taking more photos than ever before. And consumers have become accustomed to sharing their entire lives online—hoping for that ever-elusive “like” from friends, family and even strangers.
Consider what emotional connection, if any, society has to these images.
This is where the printed photo comes in. It represents an enormous opportunity for photo retailers as well as professional photographers to help consumers break free of the cycle—to create and share something unique and tangible in this age of perpetual digital noise.
Every print represents a tangible emotional connection to a memory that can be shared, given to relatives, sold to clients or hung on a wall. To leverage these emotional connections, it is critical to educate consumers on the accessibility of print. Brand your print offerings to remind consumers why they should print and also that it can be done quickly and affordably.
DNP emphasizes that if a photo matters, it should be printed. And that message resonates well with our customers. DNP is also committed to innovating and investing in solutions that are both intuitive and profitable for our customers.
We recently introduced the DS-RX1HS printer, a new standard in event photography and photo booth printing. We also plan to introduce five additional products in the next 12 months. As a result, we continue to see our printer hardware and media volumes increase every year, and we expect to see that growth continue. dnpphoto.com
Don Franz and Elmo Sapwater, Photo Imaging News
The Changing Photo Output Market
The photo-imaging market has undergone some disruptive changes over the past few years. The barriers between commercial printing and photofinishing output have disappeared. Commercial printers have entered the lucrative photo book and gifts market, while photofinishers are now competing in the commercial printing market. As this cross-market competition intensifies, consumers are benefiting from lower prices and faster delivery.
As a result, we have expanded our industry coverage to include graphic arts shows These include Drupa and Dscoop (exclusive for users of HP inkjet and Indigo digital printers). These conventions have been stimulating during 2016 as new digital printing systems enter the market and new applications are emerging.
We project that the U.S. market for photo books, calendars, greeting cards, mugs, posters/collages and canvas/metal prints will rise from $5.8 billion in 2016 to $6.6 billion in 2018. Taking into consideration that prices are declining, that represents a significant growth.
For on-site producers of photo books and other photo products, the challenge is “immediacy.” What benefit can they offer to consumers who can create and order products on the Internet and receive delivery as quickly as the next day? In addition, not everyone is comfortable designing personal items by themselves. The assistance of a real person is still desirable, especially when this person is knowledgeable, can simplify the task and enables them to create a more memorable product.
In 2017, the exploding digital photo-imaging market will present both opportunities and challenges. photo-news.com
Adam Mirabella, President, Manfrotto Distribution U.S.
Our industry continues to evolve at a faster pace than ever. Images are being taken with everything from smartphones and the latest cameras to drones. But what hasn’t changed is the importance of innovation and R&D. Throughout the history of our business, only the truly innovative companies last the test of time.
While Manfrotto started in the 1960s making lighting stands and tripods for professional photographers, in 2016 we serve every type of image taker. “New Entrants” who love images for their social circles find our PIXI, Compact Action and Befree tripods the perfect companions for their smartphones and entry-level cameras.
Prosumers who are incorporating more professional features into their shooting have our 190 Go!. And, of course, we still create products for today’s professional photographers, like our 190 and 055 ranges.
We see a future where images will be taken from all types devices. Drones and 360º video are just the beginning. In fact, our bestselling D1 backpack is the perfect way to protect and transport a drone. And Manfrotto is working closely with 360º videographers to create the perfect support to capture video for everything from virtual tours to video games.
Another major change will be in lighting. As New Entrants learn more about images on their smartphones, it is inevitable they will want to have proper lighting for their subjects.
Our line of Lumimuse LED lights allows consumers to finally apply the perfect lighting conditions for their special moments. As they see the impact of proper lighting on their images, we believe it will drive New Entrants to strive for even better images by upgrading their camera and accessories. Manfrotto will be there to take them on the next step of their journey.
The quest to take amazing images and video will never end. And innovation will be the cornerstone of any successful company in this space. We are proud to serve photographers and videographers during all stages of their journey. We continue to innovate, and just this past year we won five 2016 Red Dot Design Awards for our XPRO monopod, PIXI Evo, Lykos LED, Compact Xtreme and Digital Director, with an honorable mention going to the D1 drone backpack.
You can count on Manfrotto to support your customers’ passion for images. Imagine More! manfrotto.us
David Vaskevitch, CEO, Mylio
The End of the Beginning
The photo revolution is not at its end. It is not even at the beginning of that end. If anything, we are at the end of the beginning of the photo revolution. This means that fundamental innovation, completely new tools and a deep understanding of users and their needs are more important than ever.
In the last century, the average person took 5,000 pictures in a lifetime—slides, prints and negatives. Today, many soccer moms have 20,000 or more pictures just on their phone’s camera roll. A friend of mine, who used to shoot with a camera, has now taken more than 75,000 pictures with his phone and is hardly stopping in any way.
Last year, for the first time, more documents were “scanned with phones” than with scanners. Suddenly the problem of keeping up with a lifetime of pictures and memories is even more acute.
At Mylio, our mission from the beginning—four years ago—has been to change the way the world remembers. I believe this turns out to be the true mission of the camera and photography industry as well.
In the past year we have redesigned Mylio to make it usable by even completely nontechnical users. As a result, our life calendar, for the first time, provides a way for each of us to lay out the story of our lives. And, with the addition of PDF support, Mylio now manages documents as well as pictures.
The true photo revolution is still ahead of us, and we invite you all to join us in taking it on. mylio.com
Gregg Maniaci, President and CEO, Tamron USA, Inc.
Helping Consumers Understand the Rewards of Better Photos
It’s no secret that smartphones have cut deeply into the photographic industry’s revenue. And now with cellular phone sales starting to waver, manufacturers are attempting to compensate by portraying their phones as photographic tools.
However, no cameraphone can compete with an interchangeable-lens system’s complete performance any more than a pocket tool can compete with a power screwdriver.
Many of today’s cameras have surpassed film’s resolution. Thus Tamron recognizes the need for even higher performance—Super Performance—in light of that fact. Every lens in our new SP line is engineered from the start to meet the demands of higher megapixel cameras and focus on the needs and desires of both the professional and the photo enthusiast.
At the same time, our innovative and industry-leading all-in-one lenses continue to push the boundaries as to what consumers can expect from a single lens. They are designed for those looking to balance convenience with performance.
As an industry, we need to continue to educate consumers to not accept what is easy but to demand more and be rewarded with better images. Tamron is focused on hands-on experiences to broaden consumer awareness of this philosophy. Our goal is to assist photographers of all levels to achieve new heights. Additionally, our support of the photo specialty retailer in that regard is critical and unwavering.
The Internet can drive photo education and product research only so far. In-person, face-to-face discussions and learning offering tactile involvement will heighten enthusiasm for photography and sustain our beloved industry. tamron-usa.com
Steven Tiffen, President and CEO, The Tiffen Company
The Photographic Industry Is Dead! Long Live the Photographic Industry
If you haven’t realized it by now, the photographic industry that most of us know is unrecognizable from the past. Today’s consumers are using an ever-growing array of image capture devices whose primary purpose is not photography.
Smartphones, drones and wearable camera devices are now capturing more images in a year than have been taken in the history of photography. Our challenge as an industry is to first accept and embrace this change and then to exploit it.
We now have a community of photographers that has exploded into the billions. It is up to us—the digital image/photographic industry—to inspire, educate and help them create better pictures.
Manufacturers must develop products that will foster creativity and excitement. Retailers must create environments for consumers to be inspired so that their aspirations can be fulfilled, whether online or at brick-and-mortar retail. Exciting retail environments need to be created to help educate consumers on the products they need to improve their pictures.
As an industry, we must all work together to help the consumer realize the magnitude of choices that open up to them when they step up from a smartphone, a drone or a wearable to a DSLR or mirrorless camera. The benefits of not only the creative opportunities but also the better results need to be shown and communicated, so that the consumer can understand the benefits of buying today’s cameras and accessories. tiffen.com
Rick Voight, CEO, Vivid-Pix
Anticipate and Maximize What Is Selling
An old boss used to say: “Deal with the world as it is, not as you wish that it was.”
At the local park or theme park, the mall around the corner or the Mall in DC, one thing is clear: consumers are taking lots of pictures. Pictures of themselves, friends and family, and pictures of places they visit. The capture device they use for a vast majority of these pictures is the smartphone that’s always with them. How is your business relevant in this world?
This also drives a converse observation: 20% of all pictures are taken with other capture devices. How will your business be relevant in this world? For example, on HSN’s website it shows that six of the top 10 point-and-shoot cameras are waterproof and durable. This shows, despite smartphone growth, there’s still a niche place for a compact camera. Look then for ways to anticipate and maximize what is selling.
At Vivid-Pix, we address niche markets with software that helps customers “fix their pics” on their smartphones with mobile apps, as well as vacation travel pictures on their desktop computers or tablets.
Another adage to guide your go-to-market strategy: “Follow the money.” Despite all the business news about millennials, in the photo industry, “mom” continues to control the home budget and baby boomers control the nation’s wealth.
To serve them, Vivid-Pix created RESTORE—a fast, easy-to-use software for fixing yesteryears’ faded photos and today’s selfies.
In conclusion, the imaging market is booming. You just have to understand who you are and who you wish your customers to be, and then create or sell products to meet their needs. vivid-pix.com
Cathi Nelson, President and Founder, Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO)
Helping People Find, Preserve and Share Their Photo Stories
Today’s consumers are overwhelmed with their photo and video collections. They have thousands of images clogging up their phones, tablets, zip drives and memory cards. They have hard-copy images in shoeboxes, fading photo albums and various storage containers. And they have photos on Facebook, Instagram, Google Photos, Dropbox, Shutterfly and other cloud options. It’s no wonder consumers are paralyzed.
The bottom line is people cannot even begin to enjoy their photos and videos without an organizational system in place. Today, hundreds of photo organizers (PPOs) are the “feet on the ground” in the imaging industry. Welcomed into their clients’ homes, they see the same problem repeatedly: consumers want a simple way to reconnect with the photos that tell the stories of their life.
Founded in 2009, the Association of Personal Photo Organizers was developed to address this growing need by providing training and professional certification to professionals offering photo management services.
In 2017, at our annual conference, we are dedicating more than nine hours of training from the main stage by demonstrating a photo-organizing project from start to finish. This is a direct result of requests from our members and partners.
The imaging industry needs to make it simple for people to find, preserve and share their best photo stories. A strategic plan, coordinated by everyone in the industry, needs to be developed to educate consumers on best practices to ensure they don’t lose their photo collections to natural disasters, technological obsolesce or neglect. This is essential for the health of our industry. appo.org
Gary Shapiro, President and CEO, Consumer Technology Association (CTA)
Capturing Life’s Moments in Exciting New Ways
The latest innovations in digital imaging technology are giving us new ways to quickly and beautifully commemorate life’s moments. And it’s easier than ever to capture our memories in new perspectives.
Outdoor athletes can use camera-equipped drones to capture amazing aerial photos of their adventures. Hikers can show their friends what it looks like at the top of the mountain—and all around—thanks to 360º cameras. And vacationers can strap waterproof action cameras to their heads during a dip in the ocean (or even just in the hotel pool).
According to a Consumer Technology Association (CTA)™ study, consumers want products that are easy to use, capture crisp, natural-looking photos and, most important, are smart and intuitive. Grab-and-go devices with features that automatically adjust to the environment and frequent preferences also scored high in our survey.
While smartphones remain the most popular choice among consumers who plan to purchase digital imaging equipment in the coming year, new product categories offer remarkable and innovative ways to commemorate favorite memories. Drones, 3D imaging cameras and 360º cameras are capturing consumers’ attention. More than half of those surveyed are familiar with these new technologies.
The best way to see, touch and try the latest digital imaging innovations is at CES 2017, January 5–8, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Consider yourself invited to experience all the latest technologies that allow everyone from professional photographers to casual users to share their memories and experiences with the world in amazing new ways. cta.tech
Jim Malcolm, President, Imaging Alliance
Defining a Much Broader View of the Imaging Industry
This annual State of the Industry report provides a vital measurement of the imaging industry. It gives manufacturers, retailers and developers the opportunity to peer into our industry’s future. Over the past year, I have had the pleasure to lead a transformational industry change through the formation of the Imaging Alliance.
The Imaging Alliance was born from the collective efforts of member companies through their participation in the PhotoImaging Manufacturers and Distributors Association (PMDA) and the Photo Marketing Association (PMA). Based on their input, the newly formed organization identified a clear vision and a defined mission to provide valuable insight to member companies.
The Imaging Alliance now serves as the trusted source of information for traditional imaging and innovative enterprises that are helping to redefine the future commerce opportunities for the imaging industry.
Together we are witnessing favorable industry dynamics that are exponentially expanding business opportunities for pictures, video, virtual reality and other applications that give us access to the billions of photos taken each day. According to one study, reported in the New York Times, worldwide we will see more than 1.3 trillion pictures taken in the year 2017.
It is this mass capture of images that continues to fuel new markets for our industry. Among these opportunities is a need to offer consumers both storage and organizational solutions for their growing photo collections. In addition, photographic restoration services for their older photo archives are becoming more and more relevant to how we can expand our businesses.
There is a generational transformation that is defining a much broader view of the imaging industry, as it embraces technologies such as smartphones with increasingly better cameras, 360º cameras, VR devices, leaps in HD video resolution and even drones. All of these are redefining the way we look at imaging today.
Members of the Imaging Alliance are actively managing the vertical integration of our traditional business while identifying horizontal growth across imaging and non-imaging related industries. theimagingalliance.com
Mark Leonard, Chief Operating Officer, Photographic Research Organization (PRO)
The Industry Must Cohesively Market to Consumers
Our industry shifted from top-of-mind awareness for consumers to niche businesses overnight. The squeeze on retailers and suppliers has been mutually painful. The demise of PMA has fractured the collective effort of camera and lens makers to promote photography in a meaningful way to the general public.
It is time for the major camera, lens and accessory manufacturers to recognize the potential of working together to cohesively market in a way that says cameras are capable of taking better pictures than mobile phones. Competitors must now view each other as allies.
The Photographic Research Organization (PRO) buying group continues to provide opportunities to meet with suppliers in person via semiannual conventions. Registration for our convention in late September is near a record high. Clearly many find value in coming together often, as an industry, to learn and strategize.
PRO is uniquely focused on independent retailers with continuous communication about trends, retail strategies and contemporary ways of marketing. Yet, most important, it is a friendly network of merchants with common challenges and goals. ProMaster product quality and the marketing efforts to support the brand have never been better. Significant profitability increases for retailers are possible for those who involve themselves with ProMaster as a manufacturer. ProMaster offers 1,857 photographic accessories and counting!
Success for retailers over the next 18 months will require diversification. Drones, VR cameras, rentals as well as used equipment are all categories retailers must wholeheartedly embrace. There are many camera store owners enjoying life. In addition to a willingness to bring in new products, those who conduct a significant number of learning opportunities for customers in the form of workshops, photo field trips, test-drives and sales events will be around for a long time to come. promaster.com
Henry Posner, Director, Corporate Communications; Online Reputation Manager, B&H Photo-Video and Pro-Audio
Some Imaging Sectors Seem Vibrant, Others Not So Much
I spend a lot of time in social media and forums. The reduction in the volume of conversations on forums like fredmiranda.com, dpreview.com and photo.net suggests that for pros and avid amateurs there’s less to talk about these days, while beginners continue to debate the UV/no UV filter issue and whether Nikon bests Canon.
There seem to be fewer cameras, certainly little that’s new and electrifying, in the P&S genre. On the other hand, the medium-format, mirrorless Hasselblad X1D-50c earned considerable commentary, even though its $9K price tag means we’re talking about it more than buying it.
That said, I’m confident the R&D investment to design this elegant machine as well as the costs to manufacture and bring it to market are a vote of confidence for this niche product.
Do rumors of an improved iPhone 7 camera mean people really want better quality images? The Huawei P9 smartphone features Leica’s brand and dual camera lenses. Clever Leica marketing or a real step up in image quality?
In more traditionally affordable genres, I see more activity among lens manufacturers than camera companies. The Sigma Art lineup invigorated the brand and helped elevate third-party lens companies (Tamron, Tokina, Lensbaby, Rokinon, Samyang) from the cheap choice for the budget shopper to real contenders. Good for Sigma; good for competitors taking up their challenge to build better; and good for consumers no longer snobbish enough to demand the lens brand match the camera’s.
Another area of interest in the front of my mind is the possibility film is making a comeback. Lomography offers 35mm, 120, 110 and instant films; the Impossible Project reproduces Polaroid film. The Times of India wrote: “Kodak is all set to revive the infrastructure around film stock in India” and called it “an analog resurgence, which we call analog renaissance, around the world.”
Now you’re probably asking, “Just what the heck does he know?” In all likelihood, not any more than anyone else. I read the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. I see Tekserve has folded its retail and repair operations and Macy’s is closing 100 stores. Walmart spent billions on Jet.com and Amazon rolled out the first of its Boeing jets.
What strategies should companies pursue? The same strategy I told my kid at final exam time. Read the whole question before you answer. The advice I give myself 10 times a day varies from “measure twice, cut once” to “try to do one thing at a time and finish that before starting the second.” I’m terrible at it.
Here’s what I know. The older I get the less certain I am. We do not listen enough. We may let words flow over our ears, but that’s not listening. A month from now every word I’ve written here will make me cringe. bhphotovideo.com
Gaby Mullinax, President, Fullerton Photographics, Inc.
Innovate Your Scope of Products and Services
Let’s be honest, anyone that has survived the last 15 years in the photo industry knows that the environment has changed so quickly and so vastly that our businesses are almost unrecognizable.
According to industry veteran Scott Brownstein, “The sea change in the photo industry was based on the synergy of two critical yet separate events. The first was the launch of Facebook in 2004, and the second was the launch of the iPhone in 2007. Taken together, social media sharing and Internet-connected smartphones would go on to totally change the global photographic market . . . forever.”
As business owners today, it is critical that we acknowledge as well as adapt to the ever-changing world around us.
For 2017, we see opportunities in three distinct areas. We see an interest in “the past,” and our archiving business could not be better. Consumers have an emotional connection to their history, and they are willing to pay to preserve it. We see an opportunity in wall art and home décor. From canvas to metal to acrylic prints, people still want to have images displayed in their homes (even if the photo was taken on their iPhone).
The third and most exciting area of opportunity is in visual communication for our B2B clients. We must continue to innovate, educate and embrace technology as we meet the needs for this emerging market. The best part about serving other businesses with our talents is the ease of transitioning into this area. You’re probably already creating products that are highly valued in a business environment. Many of our existing customers become our B2B clients naturally.
Change is always expected in any industry. But by continuing to innovate our scope of products and services, the photo industry will no doubt be viable in the future. fullertonphoto.com