Canon Inc., the world's biggest digital camera seller, second-ranked Sony Corp., and rival Japanese makers expect shipments of the devices to slow this year as demand slows at home and in the U.S.
Canon, the maker of PowerShot models, said it predicts shipments to grow 20 percent to 16.8 million units in 2005, compared with a 63 percent jump a year earlier. Sony, which sells the Cyber-shot brand, said shipments will gain 7.1 percent to 15 million units in the year ending March 31, compared with a 40 percent rise a year ago.
Digital camera makers in Japan, where four of the five top sellers of the devices are based, are struggling to boost sales in their home market, where a government survey shows that almost half the population already has a digital camera. Domestic shipments are expected to rise 1.8 percent to 8.7 million units this year, compared with a 29 percent boost in 2002, the Tokyo- based Camera & Imaging Products Association said Jan. 27.
"The rush for digital cameras in Japan had its peak last year, and the U.S. is about a year behind that,'" said Mitsuhiro Osawa, an analyst at Mizuho Investors Securities Co. who covers precision-instrument makers. About a third of consumers in the U.S. have a digital camera, compared with about a quarter in Europe, he said.
Olympus Corp., which was overtaken last year by Eastman Kodak Co. as the third-biggest seller of digital cameras, according to market researcher IDC, expects to ship 9.5 million units in the year ending March 31, compared with 8.9 million a year earlier. Nikon Corp., ranked fifth, said it expects shipment growth this business year to slow to 15 percent to 7.6 million units, down from an increase of almost a quarter previously. Fuji Photo Film Co., ranked sixth, said camera shipments will rise 16.7 percent to 7.7 million units this year, compared with an increase of almost a third a year earlier.
"Shipments have been on a declining trend, and makers are going to have to reshuffle their lineup to include more expensive models to maintain price and revenue levels,'' Mr. Osawa said. (Bloomberg)
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