If recent earnings results from Nikon are any indication, the digital cameras sales are in free fall. Canon is not doing any better. Here is what could be happening in plain sight.
After killing the point and shoot camera market, the smartphones with the iPhone is now taking over the rest, slowly but surely. Camera advances in the iPhone coupled with computational photography are creating photos that no one could imagine possible on such small devices just a decade ago. And who knows what comes next in five or ten years from now.
As John Gruber puts it in a recent blog post:
Hard to overstate just how good camera phones are getting, and just how convenient it is for sharing to have them right there on your phone, immediately.
Convenience is the key for the vast majority of the people. Quality comes after.
I can see a sort of equilibrium in the future where the size of a smartphone can no longer allow for any optimization and increase in the optics size. When we will reach this point, traditional digital camera market will find their niche. As I wrote in the past, photography is about light and nothing can replace real good optics, not even the best AI or ML algorithms.
I don’t know if there is place for two or three big players in the digital cameras market. I can imagine some form of consolidation happening in the long term. I think this is sad and I hope to continue enjoying traditional photography for a long time.