Canon’s Fear of Smartphones Should be a Wake up Call to the Industry

Unless manufacturers start scrambling to attract new customers the camera market will decline rapidly.

Over the last 10 years or so the world of photography has changed immensely. The rise of smartphones and the cameras that they house have had a massive impact on the camera market. As time has gone on, and as smartphone cameras have improved, more and more people are opting to just use the camera in their pockets rather than a dedicated camera. It’s this behavior that has Canon and others running scared, and it’s why Canon believes that the camera market could plunge 50% in just two years. 

A recent report over at Canon Rumors states that Canon CEO Fujio Mitara sees dark times ahead for the camera market. Mr. Mitara stated in an interview with Nikkei that the the global camera market currently sits at around 10 million units per year, within the next two years he sees that number dropping to maybe 5 or 6 million units per year. His belief is that smartphones are the cause of this, but what exactly are Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm and the rest doing about it? From where I’m standing I don’t see any evidence of them trying to win back a market that was taken from them a good few years ago.

Sure, they’re trying to innovate: but they’re not going after the smartphone customer in any way or trying to tempt them away from just having phones.

It pains me to see such massive companies acting as if they are shocked about this. It’s not new news; in fact the writing has been on the wall for quite some time. Every day you see commercials on TV from smartphone manufacturers where they boast about the cameras that their phones have. Apple has built almost all of their marketing campaigns for iPhones around the camera, and the same goes with Google and the Pixel line of phones. The commercials have made people believe they don’t need a standalone camera any more. So one has to ask, where’s the push back?

Unfortunately the Canon CEO is probably right about the camera market declining, but he, and his peers have the power to reverse the trend. When was the last time you saw a commercial on TV for a new camera? The Canon EOS R and the Nikon Z6 and Z7  were the biggest launches for those two companies in a decade and I saw no mainstream marketing for them. Sony and Fujifilm are the same way, and Pentax; nobody has heard from them since the Jurassic era. These companies cater and market to a group of people already in the industry, but they do nothing to try and attract new users.Apart from eye tracking, when was the last time you saw true innovation from Canon and the others in regards to ease of use for the average consumer? How about improvements in the way that cameras can share digital images to social media? There hasn’t been any innovation when it comes to being able to edit images in camera either.

How hard would it truly be for mega corporations to integrate wireless LTE, and going forward 5G data into the cameras? How hard would it be to design a simple app marketplace where users could download apps like Snapseed and Instagram directly to their camera? The answer is not very hard at all because the infrastructure is already there; they just need to embrace it. Instead the Canon CEO has said he thinks that the way forward is to market to corporations rather than to innovate and appeal to consumers. Are they really that shocked that the market is in such decline? Shake my damn market

While these features may not be anything pro photographers would use much (or at all), the idea is to make cameras that much more accessible to the average user, and the average user wants just a few things out of a camera. Great image quality, ease of use, and a quick and easy way to share their images. Perhaps the big boys should take a look at Yongnuo and the Yn450 camera that they’re supposedly working on. An Android based camera that has a familiar interface, that’s data ready, and it can use existing camera lenses. This is the type of innovation we need to see. This is what the market needs to grow and to steal back smartphone camera users.

Years upon years of Canon and Nikon resting on their laurels and past glories have led to them falling behind in spectacular fashion, and its led to the situation the camera market is in now. The need to innovate and appeal to a new generation of photographers is smacking them in the face and they can’t see it. The declining camera market should be a major wake up call to all involved in the photography world. Not only are smartphones taking over, they’re making the true art of photography disappear.

What do you think camera manufacturers need to do to win back, and bring in a new generation of photographers? Let us know in the comment section below.





Brett Day

Brett Day is the Gear Editor at The Phoblographer and has been a photographer for as long as he can remember. Brett has his own photography business that focuses on corporate events and portraiture. In his spare time, Brett loves to practice landscape and wildlife photography. When he's not behind a camera, he's enjoying life with his wife and two kids, or he's playing video games, drinking coffee, and eating Cheetos.