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Modest demand for interchangeables, says UK analyst

July 28, 2010: Following the release of a Futuresource industry report earlier this month on the Western European market opportunity for interchangeable lens compact cameras, James Wells, consultant with UK-based Futuresource Consulting, outlined some of the key issues surrounding the interchangeable lens compact market:

Since the end of 2008 when Panasonic launched the world’s first Interchangeable Lens Compact,Olympus, Samsung and Sony have introduced their own models into this segment. The market was still relatively small last year, with just 80,000 units shipped across Western Europe, compared with 3.2m DSLRs.

Moving forward, there are some factors that will limit growth for the interchangeable lens compact market in the short to mid term, such as certain technological factors that influence camera performance and higher average retail prices compared to entry-level DSLRs.

Another big influence on growth will be whether Canon and Nikon – who currently dominate the wider interchangeable lens camera market – decide to launch an interchangeable lens compact product.

Makoto Kimura, Nikon’s president, recently confirmed Nikon will launch a new type of SLR as early as this fiscal year, saying it ‘may adopt the so-called mirrorless structure’. To date there has been no official word from Canon regarding its future plans for interchangeable lens cameras.

In the short-term, whilst we are expecting significant growth for the interchangeable lens compact market, it will still only reach shipments of 377,000 units across Western Europe in 2010, compared to expectations of 3.3m units for DSLRs.

Panasonic, Olympus, Sony and Samsung (with a 20 percent combined share of European interchangeable lens camera shipments in 2009) are expected to promote this segment heavily in 2010, particularly at the photokina show in September in the run up to the important fourth quarter period.

The long-term aim is to try to break Canon’s and Nikon’s stranglehold on the interchangeable lens camera market. Suffice to say this will be an interesting space to watch over the next two to three years.

– James Wells, Futuresource

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