The impact of smartphones on the camera industry

The impact of smartphones on the camera industry

This week we take a look at the impact smartphones had on the camera industry. 

Few industries have been hit as hard as the camera industry by the advent of Smartphones. 

The camera industry saw slow but steady growth from the beginning of the 1950s up until the late 90s, when the advent of digital cameras gave rise to an explosion in camera sales. Up until then, owning and operating a camera was a costly endeavour as a 35mm camera roll, the most common at the time, would only take up to 36 shots and you would then have to pay someone to develop these shots on paper. Then, the digital camera arrived, and took the world by storm, with the promise of never again having to wait hours or even days to see what you really shot. 

And then the iPhone and the subsequent smartphones happened. Who would carry a camera with them, if they can get -seemingly- comparable photos on their smartphone and then share them right then and there. No need to import them on a PC, no extra battery chargers, no extra dongles. Life became simpler, and as a consequence the camera industry saw its sales slumping from 121 million cameras sold in 2010 to a measly 15 million in 2019. Owning a camera started as a niche, became widespread and ended up as a niche.

On the other hand, smartphone sales worldwide skyrocketed and reached a peak of 1.4 billion in 2017.  They are only now becoming stagnant due to market saturation, as the technology has matured enough and consumers don't see a reason to replace their phones so often.