Sunday, April 12, 2015

Nowhere To Hide

I came across this interesting perspective on the camera industry last week.

This is a chart showing the number of cameras produced worldwide between 1947 and 2014. The data was put together by Heino Hilbig of Mayflower Concepts who for many years headed up marketing for camera giants Canon and Olympus.

In 1,000 of Units
Credit: Mayflower Concepts

Note that in 1975 camera production was approximately 5 million units. These would have been traditional cameras that required film (and developing).

By 1998, traditional camera production was approaching 40 million units. By 2005, cameras that required film were completely gone

Digital cameras were introduced to consumers in 1999 and this new technology led to millions of new cameras in the market. By 2010 there were 120 million digital cameras being produced.

This change in technology and the effects it had on the film market were devastating to Kodak. It was even more painful when it is considered that Eastman Kodak had invented the first digital camera in 1975.

However, the company shelved the idea because of concerns that it would hurt their lucrative film business.

That decision did not work out very well for Kodak's shareholders or employees.

This graph shows the growth in Eastman Kodak's stock price from 1962 until it peaked in 1997. And its precipitous fall with the introduction of digital cameras leading to its bankruptcy in 2012.

The $28 billion in stockholder value and the 140,000 jobs that Kodak had at its peak were completely wiped out.

However, the digital camera wave that surged so quickly has also fallen just as fast.

Production of digital cameras dropped from 120 million units to 40 million in just four years with the introduction of smartphones that came with a built-in camera (not to mention a digital video camera as well).

If you take the prior chart on cameras and merge it with the number of smartphones that have been produced with a camera, the graph now looks like this thanks to the efforts of Sven Skafisk.

Credit: Sven Skafisk and

That's 40 million cameras and about 1.25 billion smartphones (with a camera) that were produced just in 2014.

There is nowhere to hide.

From advances in technology. As Kodak found out

Or to escape the lens of camera that is out there looking for you.

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