SAN JOSE, Calif. � Shipments of Japanese-made digital cameras hit 6.1 million units in December, down 11 percent sequentially but up 22 percent in the like period a year ago, according to RBC Capital Markets Inc.
In total, digital camera shipments out of Japan totaled 59.8 million units in 2004, up 38 percent over 2003, according to RBC. Japan makes about 80 percent of the world's digital cameras.
Investment banking firm RBC (San Francisco) estimated that 75 million digital cameras were shipped worldwide in 2004, up 45 percent in 2003.
"Growth will likely slow further in 2005 to 20 percent year-over-year or 90 million units," according to RBC. "We believe Europe, North America and Japan are relatively saturated while Asia Pacific could potentially be a growth region."
I suspect Taiwan and China are gradually replacing Japan as digital camera manufacturing centers, particularly for the low and middle range market where the optics are not as important. (That's because Japan's only comparative advantage in the camera market are their excellent optics technologies.)
That accounts for part of the slowdown out of Japan. Another is that as 1.3MP and higher camera phones come out, people are finding they don't need a camera. Basically, for the low and middle range markets cameraphones are cannibalizing some camera sales.