Smartphones ‘ the biggest challenge’ says report

June 24, 2010: PMA in the US has made a range of strategy suggestions based on the 2010 Consumer Imaging in Australiamarket research released this month.

The report was based on a questionnaire jointly designed by PMA and PICA, and conducted by the Australian Centre for Retail Studies at Monash University. Responses came from an online panel of 2000 Australian households. The data is then sent to PMA in Jackson where the data is developed into the finished report.

In a daring forecast of the immediate future, PMA says that touch-screen smartphones and tablets will change imaging for all. The report says ‘touch screen smartphones are the biggest challenge to the traditional shoot-and-print model, yet bigger than social networks.’

It says that photo cards are the key to further success in digital photo printing, and points to the largely unexploited category of large format photo printing in the home as an opportunity for specialty photo businesses.

For specialty retailers, PMA suggests advertising bundled camera and accessory deals, competing on price for accessories with discount stores, including smartphone accessories in the range, and paying special attention to DSLR owners.

Mass retailers should look to developing their portfolio of stationery and greeting cards and expanding customisation options to develop a year-round rather than seasonal business.

PMA also reasons that camera manufacturers need to keep prices competitive by slashing resolution, but expanding other features such as GPS and Wi-Fi

‘Slashing resolution can help expand camera functionality without sacrificing price-competitiveness,’ the report says.

‘The solution seems odd by traditional camera-business standards of continuously increasing resolution levels, but millions of consumers will come to embrace it,’ the report predicts.

However, when asked what new digital camera features they required, the most popular was ‘better resolution’, nominated by 87 percent of the survey group (up from 66 percent in 2009) with ‘better LCDs’ and ‘bigger zoom ranges’ coming in second and third in the required features stakes.

On the other hand, there has been a big increase in the number of people who ‘primarily take pictures with their camera phone over the past 12 months, up from 2 percent in 2009 to 12 percent in 2010 (with half of those using an iPhone.)

 

Those who used their camera phone to take pictures ‘because the occasion was not important enough to take a regular camera’ has also increased – from just 7 percent in 2009 to a surprising 45 percent (20 percent camera phone, 25 percent iPhone) in 2010. (The report separates iPhones out from other camera phones.)

While satisfaction levels with the ease of use and performance of camera phones in general are about the same as 2009 levels, the iPhone gets a big tick, with 30 percent saying the device performed better or far better than expected. The new higher resolution iPHone announced recently should add to that group of happy Apple owners.

When it comes to the age demographics of people who take pictures with camera phones and digital cameras, there’s a not surprising bias in camera phone use to younger groups, with little appreciable difference in age demographics among compact camera users. Close to 80 percent of 18 – 29 year olds use a camera phone, and after that there’s a consistent drop-off in the older age groups.

When it comes to upgrading cameras, the sweet spot seems to be around 3 – 4 years for DSLR owners and 3 – 5 years for compact camera owners. With camera sales well above the million mark 3 to 4 years ago, this augurs well for sales into the future by people buying their ‘next’ camera

The research reveals that in the last five years, Australians have bought over 10 million digital cameras and predicts that sales in 2010 alone will reach 3 million cameras. This is a surprisingly high figure, which when compared to GfK data for 2009, indicates a spike of close to 50 percent. GfK figures, although they don’t include online sales, would be more reliable here as they look at actual sales data rather than a fairly small survey sample.

If you have stuck with me until here in this overview of the Report, you will doubtless be getting a little weary by now. (I know I am!)

So let’s have a look at the printing and sharing aspects of the report next week.

The full report is available free to PMA members from the PMA website, and can be purchased by non-members for $249. Photo Counter thanks PMA for providing a copy for the preparation of this article.


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