Instagram, Facebook prompt surge in sales of digital SLR cameras – The National

Photo-sharing websites such as Instagram and Facebook are helping to drive up sales of digital SLR cameras in the region as amateur photographers keen on impressing their followers with shots of desserts and holidays turn away from compact cameras.

Globally, sales of compact cameras are falling at a rate of about 20 per cent. Households are no longer purchasing point-and-shoot compact cameras, but are instead upgrading to DSLRs or relying on their smartphones to take pictures.

“The future for point-and-shoot cameras does not look bright. With higher-quality cameras integrated in smartphones, smartphone penetration rates continuing to rise and consumers looking for convenience and connectivity at the same time, we have seen a rapid decline in sales unit prices and expect sales volume to follow,” said Karen Van Diesen, a research analyst at Euromonitor International.

According to Euromonitor, 72 per cent of households in Kuwait have a camera, followed by 50 per cent in Saudi Arabia and 45 per cent in the UAE. Smartphone penetration rates, however, are closer to 200 per cent in those countries.

The Japanese camera manufacturer Nikon is focusing on pushing its DSLR offerings, since the segment now accounts for 60 per cent of its sales in the region.

“We have to face the decline of compact cameras. We have to accept this kind of influence of smartphones — it is easy to take a photo and share straight away,” said Takashi Yoshida, the managing director at Nikon Middle East.

More than 55 million internet users across Middle East and North Africa have a Facebook account, while about 14 per cent of social media users in the region use Instagram. Globally, about 500 million pictures are shared every day on social networking sites, most captured on mobile devices.

“We have to focus on the younger generation. It is a quite successful segment, especially for DSLR,” said Nikon. “In the Middle East, the younger generation is very keen on social media, much more so than in other countries.”

These websites have altered the way people use cameras. Today cameras are used to capture memories to share with family and friends, while smartphones are used to capture moments to share with the rest of the world.

“There has been a landmark shift in the way people take pictures and share them. Everybody now wants to take better pictures, and that’s what led to the boom of DSLR,” said Jason Rego, the marketing manager of the Middle East division of Canon, the other major cameramaker.

Sales of DSLRs are not affected by the rise of smartphones and the segment is expected to grow at a rate of 10 per cent this year as “consumers, especially the youth, appreciate higher quality pictures and the popularity of semi-professional photography rises”, said Mr Van Diesen.

As smartphone manufacturers continue to innovate, smartphone cameras could one day keep up with DSLR quality.

Last year Nokia launched the Lumia 1020 with a 41-megapixel camera, and Sony launched a detachable smartphone camera lens with 4K high-definition capture capability.

“The use case for different devices depends on different times of the day, but everything will coexist. Video is very important and growing not just in the Middle East, but globally. It is important to give consumers choice and the best hardware to capture or create,” said Vithesh Reddy, the general manager of Lower Gulf at Nokia.

thamid@thenational.ae

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