In 2014, there will be  2.25 billion picture-taking devices sold . According to a slide shown by  Christian Müller-Rieker, the Executive Director of the Photoindustrie-Verband (The German Imaging Association), this will be  a 9% increase over the 2.05 billion sold during 2013.

Overwhelming numbers

What is even more spectacular is the huge difference between smartphones and traditional cameras. For 2013, only 83 million of global sales were of  digital cameras ( Dslr, point and shoot)  versus 1.948 billion for mobile ( smartphones and tablets). For anyone still doubting where the market is heading, this is a powerful reminder.

number of picture taking device
Number of picture-taking devices (still from a video)

Those numbers, made public  during a press conference in Beijing on April 16 promoting the Photokina ( the German Photo Show), also clearly show the aggressive rise of tablets , with a 10% average growth year per year, confirming something we wrote about recently.

What it doesn’t show

What is clearly missing here, obviously, is how many pictures are actually taken with various devices. One key reason for the increase in mobile device is that you would be hard pressed to find a phone, or a tablet, without a built-in camera.  And it doesn’t mean that because it has one, it is being used.  However, numbers from  popular photo sharing sites like Instagram and Flickr clearly show that the vast majority of  ~ 500 million images uploaded daily are taken with a mobile device.

Since these numbers only address the sales volume ( new units sold) , it excludes the already massive inventory of picture-taking devices  already in existence. Dslr are kept and used for a longer time , much longer than the average 2 years of mobile.

The picture from here

With technology advancing quickly in making mobile devices as performant than cameras, this trend will keep on accelerating. The  only remaining reason for people to purchase and use digital cameras lies in the huge difference in lens quality, a barrier in the process of being broken.  Light-field  as well as coded lens technology, still in their infancy, offer a strong alternative to bulky glass lenses, if they can be squeezed in small spaces.

Author: Paul Melcher

Paul Melcher is a highly influential and visionary leader in visual tech, with 20+ years of experience in licensing, tech innovation, and entrepreneurship. He is the Managing Director of MelcherSystem and has held executive roles at Corbis, Stipple, and more. Melcher received a Digital Media Licensing Association Award and is a board member of Plus Coalition, Clippn, and Anthology, and has been named among the “100 most influential individuals in American photography”

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