Soon, camera majors to flex their muscles with wi-fi tech

Last Updated: Sun, Jan 06, 2013 04:37 hrs

With the threat of smartphones looming on the compact camera segment for some time, now, the Samsung Galaxy Camera has pushed Canon and Nikon to come out with products that have similar features.

The Galaxy Camera is Android-based and lets users share pictures clicked with it on various social media websites directly from the camera.

Alok Bharadwaj, senior vice-president at Canon India, attributed this shift in the industry to the changing consumer behaviour. "We have a few models that let users share pictures. But this is something that would be present in most cameras we would come up with in the next financial year. Consumer needs are evolving and we have to keep working to meet those," he said.

The rising popularity of smartphones is forcing traditional camera manufacturers to reassess their strategies by offering new devices that can, for example, connect to the internet easily. Nikon has released the S800c, a compact camera powered by Google's Android system, which allows users to download applications that help email and share images on social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Flickr.

Last year saw launches of smartphones loaded with breakthrough camera capabilities. This led to annual growth in the compact digital camera segment falling from 40 per cent through the last three years to a muted five per cent in January-September period of last year. The festive season, too, didn't help the compact camera segment much. While the compact camera market, estimated at about 3.3 million units, has seen lukewarm growth, the market for smartphones is estimated at about 18 million handsets, and is growing at about 60 per cent.

Nikon India, which has a daunting market share in the DSLR (digital single reflex camera) segment, claimed it was the first to introduce such technology in the industry. "We were the pioneer this time, too. We are closely looking at market reactions and would be doling out more connected cameras' to feed consumers needs," Sajjan Kumar, general manager of Nikon India, told Business Standard. He indicated the pricing of this new genre of products would be critical.

The 0.17-million unit strong DSLR market has seen good growth, with a lot of amateurs preferring DSLRs for better quality. "DSLRs have been growing about 50 per cent and by FY13, this would rise to about 0.27 million units," said Bharadwaj.

He added by 2014, most cameras would be enabled with features that keep users connected to the web. "Earlier it was click, print and store'. But now, this is transforming into click and share instantly'," he said, adding, "We are already working to improve Wi-Fi connectivity through routers."

The wave of change is seen by many as a possible threat to entry-level compact cameras. "Consumers have been adapting to changes positively. Our mirror-less range of cameras have shown good growth last year, as these give superior quality and have hassle-free, compact bodies," said Kumar.

The upper end of the smartphone market has the Nokia 808 PureView, which has a high-resolution, 41-megapixel sensor. At the lower end, Micromax sells a five-megapixel camera phone at about Rs 6,000.

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