Today's announcement from
) introducing the
, uber-cool, 41-megapixel flagship smartphone camera might be one
of the last nails in the coffin for cheaper point-and-shoot cameras
In the past few years, continuous improvements in smartphone camera
technology have led to vastly improved picture quality. Now some
smartphone pictures reach or exceed the quality delivered by
compact cameras. Under some conditions, smartphone shots might even
be as good as pictures taken with a digital single-lens reflex
camera, or a DSLR.
Nokia Lumia 1020. Photo courtesy of Nokia.
And DSLRs are already losing ground to smartphones - at least when
it comes to pictures shared on the Internet. On Flickr, the
popular cameras are
) iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, and iPhone 4 respectively. The smartphones
have pushed professional level DSLR cameras Canon EOS 5D Mark II
and EOS 7D to fourth and fifth place.
While Canon and Nikon are still ranked as the No. 1 and No. 2
camera brands on Flickr, respectively, Apple is No. 3, and
(OTCMKTS:SSNLF) ranks fourth. To put it into perspective,
the same Flickr top six in January 2011
didn't include Apple or Samsung.
Samsung is not only constantly setting the bar higher for
smartphone cameras, but it is also trying to merge smartphone and
point-and-shoot camera markets.
The company has introduced LTE-connectivity to interchangeable lens
cameras with the May announcement of the
Android-powered Galaxy NX
, not to mention the recent Galaxy S4 Zoom, which is still more of
a smartphone than a camera.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom. Photo courtesy of Samsung Electronics.
One of the digital imaging leaders, Canon, said in its
March SEC filing
that the worldwide compact digital camera market shrunk by 10%
year-over-year in fiscal 2012, with one of the reasons being "the
rapid penetration of smartphones."
Other players in the market have expressed similar sentiment.
"The market for compact digital cameras shrank at a faster speed
and scale than we had imagined, as smartphones with camera
functions spread around the world,"
Olympus president Hiroyuki Sasa said
in November 2012.
According to "Global Digital Camera Industry Outlook to 2017," a
published in April 2013, global digital camera market growth was
"marginal" in the last six years due to (among other reasons) the
growing use of smartphones worldwide.
In October 2011, following the launch of the iPhone 4S, IHS iSupply
released a statement
predicting that the low-end point-and-shoot camera segment's 12.2%
growth in 2010 would reverse, and become a 2.9% decline by 2015.
However, the company noted that the lack of optical zoom lenses in
smartphone cameras, and their low picture quality, would keep
compact camera sales safe a little longer.
But that was then. Smartphone cameras have improved greatly in the
past year and a half.
So the trend of smartphones cannibalizing point-and-shoot digital
cameras has continued in 2013, as IHS analyst Pamela Tufegdzic
stated in her
July 2013 market insight
Canon SX160 IS. Photo courtesy of Canon
"In an otherwise stagnant camera market hurt by the growing
competition from smartphones, the DSLR market is growing as a
result of the demand for mirrorless models," noted Tufegdzic.
However, in America, sales of mirrorless cameras
leave much to be desired
On the other hand, the newest smartphone cameras, like the Nokia
Lumia 1020, might pose a threat not only to mirrorless but also to
entry-level DSLR cameras.
"With a camera as good as the one on the Lumia 1020, a separate
point-and-shoot device seems superfluous," John Delaney, head of
European Mobility Team at IDC, tells Minyanville.
He argues that the new Nokia smartphone could even replace a DSLR
for some users.
Still, Delaney thinks that point-and-shoot cameras will remain
around for a while: "Lots of people are using lower-end
smartphones, and point-and-shooters will offer them a distinctive
proposition for some time yet."