The 2017 CIPA Results are in
2017 was an interesting year overall for the camera industry. The year after the Kumamoto earthquake massively disrupted sensor supply chains, led to a fragmented 2016 where manufacturers were having difficulty shipping during the summer months. This turned into strong rebound shipments in the last quarter which also carried strongly into the first quarter of 2017.
I notice a few sites parroting these results and yet again, calling them sales. These are not sales, and the fact that they are shipments is very important, as we will see when we discuss in detail the information for the year.
Overall, if we include cameras with lenses attached, the industry shipped more cameras than in 2016 increasing its shipments by 5% between 2016 and 2017. However, 2016 was supply limited. If we look back to 2015 and compare to 2017 we see a significant drop off in built-in lens cameras from 22 million to 13 million. If we look at the graph for built-in lens cameras, it's more likely that 2016 significantly suffered than 2017 was a rebound year. However, there is a good note, the rate of change is lowering for year to year which shows that this market should indeed bottom out sooner than later.
As smartphone's complete dismantling of this market is nearly completed and the camera companies have all gone with higher value compact cameras.
Canon released their financials for 2017 a few days ago, and while that isn't too terribly important to this, its important to note that Canon saw a market decrease in built-in lens cameras between 2016 and 2017 in terms of actual sales from 15 million to 13 million. It's pretty safe to assume then, that there isn't a strong corollary between shipments and sales at least for built-in lens cameras, which stands to reason that their inventory is on hand for longer durations than the more expensive interchangeable lens cameras.
The remainder of the analysis is concerning interchangeable lens camera shipments for 2017.
I took a good guess back in October to how the rest of the year would play out for ILC’s partly because some were predicting significant shipment gains were going to occur for 2017. I didn’t think so and demonstrated it by showing what I felt November and December shipments would be. The projection for ILC’s for November was very accurate, but I was a little too pessimistic about December’s volume.
As a result, the shipments of ILC’s broke even for 2016, however, that, like it was for compacts, doesn’t really signify that the decline is over, and that 2017 spelled the end of the slow decline in the ILC market. It simply means that 2016 was an especially poor year because of the earthquake.
Overall it was an average year for DSLR's and a great year of recovery for Mirrorless.
However, there is some important detail as with compact cameras to note about this. The supply of DSLR's was not as limited in 2016 as mirrorless was, as 50-60% of the DSLR market was not sensor supply limited by the earthquake. A significantly higher percentage of mirrorless was supply limited as Sony, Olympus, Fuji and Panasonic all simply ran out of sensors and also delayed new releases from 2016 to 2017.
For this reason, we must take 2017 data along the same vein as 2016 data, where it may be showing an annual trend however the data was disrupted for a good portion of the year. This isn't to say that Mirrorless didn't have a great year, it had a fantastic year, however the rate of increase of mirrorless market share should not have been as much of a year on year increase if the Kumamoto didn't occur. Frankly speaking, 2016 was a better year for DSLR marketshare than it should have been.
If you look at the marketshare graph, you’ll see that mirrorless had it’s worst months in the summer of 2016, which was also when most mirrorless companies stopped shipping because of sensor shortages.
Overall, we see that the mirrorless DSLR marketshare of the interchangeable lens camera market remained rather steady at around the 65% for the entire year, with mirrorless holding a 35%.
This translates into a 10% shift in marketshare year on year, which will have some I’m sure claiming the death of DSLR is nigh. If we look at the data by region, we see that Asia predominantly has shifted the marketshares, however all regions have shown a degree of movement to more mirrorless being shipped.
Asia, is still the primary market for mirrorless and the Americas is still the primary market for DSLR’s. Europe is facing a slower but consistent trend to more mirrorless over the last 2-3 years. For Europe and America regions, this translates to a much slower gain by mirrorless over time.
While the trend is for more mirrorless to be shipped, the trend isn’t anything to get excited about.
What do we see for 2018?
There will be a major disruption in the shipments over the next couple of years, as it is expected that both Canon and Nikon will start to aggressively market mirrorless cameras in the full frame, and in the case of Nikon, DX as well.
This of course, will dramatically change the shipment mix between DSLR and Mirrorless.
I fully expect the mirrorless marketshare to increase from 35% next year to a final year marketshare in 2018 of around 45%. 2019, this may marginally change depending on how successful Canon and Nikon mirrorless products are. However, I feel that some are placing too much importance on mirrorless for Canon and Nikon as both of thing sell excellent cameras that tend to sell quite well regardless of whether or not they ship with a mirror.
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