More Picture-Takers Are Phoning It In

Published on December 22, 2011
by John Paczkowski

No big surprises here. The single-purpose camera is in decline, the smartphone camera on the rise.

New research from NPD finds that smartphones are now responsible for more than a quarter of the photos and videos people take in the U.S. About 27 percent of photographs taken in 2011 were captured by smartphones, up from 17 percent last year. Meanwhile, about 44 percent were taken with single-purpose cameras. That’s down from 52 percent in 2010. Standard cellphones, camcorders, webcams and tablets account for the remainder.

So, a significant decline, and one indicative of a trend that’s been emerging for years now: The smartphone as “good enough” camera. With our phones packing increasingly better cameras and improved optics, the reasons for carrying a dedicated point-and-shoot are growing fewer — unless you’re a professional photographer or a hobbyist. And that’s having a deleterious effect on the camera market. According to NPD’s Retail Tracking Service, the point-and-shoot camera market declined 17 percent in units and 18 percent in dollars for the first 11 months of 2011.

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