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Zooming in on a picture perfect market

June 19, 2007 02:42 IST

Shruti Talwar, a final year college student, has just picked up her first digital camera.

"I can click as many snaps, it is convenient to manage and transfer data as per my requirements. I also don't need to depend on a studio for quality," she says.

It is first time entrants like Talwar who are driving the booming digital camera market.

In large format outlets such as Croma, E-zone and Reliance Retail, digital cameras are only next to cellphones in drawing customer traffic, say industry experts.

With the digital camera sales growing in excess of 26 per cent every year, the product is attracting even consumer durables majors such as Samsung and Panasonic to focus more on the segment.

Traditionally, the category has been dominated by players like Canon, Sony and Olympus in India. However, companies like Panasonic and Samsung are also trying to get their share of the pie.

While Sony has set a target to sell 3 lakh digital cameras this year, Canon boasts of having already registered more than 50 per cent growth this year without divulging the actual numbers.

The Korean durables major Samsung aims to sell 60,000 units in 2007 compared with 20,000 units in the previous year.

Alok Bharadwaj, vice president, Canon India, says, "Digital cameras have demystified the process of photography by letting the consumers experiment and learn to click better pictures."

Experts agree that digital cameras have changed the notion of photography as an occasional activity that needs expertise.

"The first-time users are technology savvy and look for an affordable digicam for capturing moments," said an executive of an electronics showroom in Mumbai.

According to the analyst firm IDC, the digital camera market closed at 4.38 lakh unit shipments for the year 2006.

In the first quarter of 2007, it has already witnessed record shipments of over 1,38,000 units, adds IDC.

IDC expects high growth for digital cameras in 2007 and aggressive campaigning by vendors in the market. With increasing demand, the prices have come down. Three years back, an entry-level one mega pixel digital camera cost about Rs 19,000.

Currently, a digicam with five mega pixel is available for around Rs 10,000. Aarti Gahlaut, assistant manager, digital imaging products research, IDC India, said, "The digital camera market is dependent upon the trend in the mega pixel movement. The market is expected to move towards six mega pixel and above segments, while the prices might drop further. Currently, close to 40 per cent of the total market is controlled by the six mega pixel segment, followed by the 27 per cent share of the five mega pixel segment."

Gahlaut said the vendors would aggressively market their brands through various schemes throughout the year. Recently, Canon launched an offer of free 1 GB memory cards, carry case and DVDs on selected models.

Sachin Dev Rai, product head, digital imaging, Sony India, said, "The company will focus on brand building and ground activities like product demonstrations, road shows and promotions like gaming competitions and contests."

Earlier, Canon had promoted digital cameras by starting Canon zones at popular eateries like Mc Donald's and provided free chargers for passengers of Kingfisher Airlines.

Tejal A Deshpande in Mumbai