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© andrzej thiel dreamstime.com Embedded | December 20, 2012

Digital cameras and portable game players suffer at the hand of smartphones

Smartphones continue to steal market share from portable consumer electronic (CE) devices. Annual shipments of handheld game players are expected to decline at least 4% YoY with the North American market experiencing a fall of nearly 13%.
In the digital camera market, shipments are expected to decline over 11% YoY worldwide and nearly 20% in North America. New devices like Sony’s 3G Vita and Samsung’s Galaxy Camera are trying to bridge the divide between portable CE devices and cellular-enabled mobile devices, but these tweener devices will have many challenges.

Senior analyst Michael Inouye commented, “Early sales of Sony’s 3G Vita were quite strong, likely attributable to pre-launch bundles which favored the cellular version – more recent holiday bundles have since favored the Wi-Fi-only model. Incremental monthly fees consumers must pay when adding these devices to their cellular data plans combined with metered data often overweigh the benefits of mobile devices excluding smartphones and tablets.”

Opportunity, however, still remains for portable game consoles, as they have adequate differentiators versus smartphones, notably exclusive game franchises and better User Interfaces. Nintendo’s 3DS has sold well and Sony’s Vita is looking like a late bloomer (a price cut would help spur demand). For digital cameras, picture quality and lens attributes might still be the best way to differentiate dedicated point-and-shoot cameras.

TV & video practice director, Sam Rosen added, “While the auditory and visual quality of content in many ways is less important today than in the past, some consumers still look for these features. A subset of customers still look to higher end single-purpose cameras for higher image quality and portable game players for better game-play quality over Smartphone feature sets. When CE manufacturers and operators work together to develop win-win data plans, and reduce the cost burden of the additional hardware, these classes will again find favor with consumers.”

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