Digital cameras, under threat from mobile phones with cameras in most parts of the world, are finding the going good in India, one of the fastest growing mobile telephony markets in the world.
This year, according to Keiji Oshima, president, Sanyo India, Indians will buy 500,000 digital cameras, an increase of more than 50% over the previous year. That translates into a market worth Rs600 crore, according to the Indian arm of technology research firm IDC.
In 2004, according to the firm, the Indian market for digital cameras was worth Rs100 crore. Last year, the companies claim, the market grew at the rate of 130%.
Over the past two years, says Alok Bharadwaj, vice-president, Canon India, the price of digital cameras has dropped by around 25%. For around Rs450 a month, as much money as it takes to maintain a mobile phone connection, consumers can have cameras made by companies such as Sony.
Most other companies that make digital cameras, including Samsung, Kodak, Canon, and Sanyo have a presence in the Indian market.
All these companies are hoping that affluent Indian consumers will grow into using not just the cameras but assorted add-ons such as docks, printers, even glossy photo paper. The growth has given companies reason to launch more new products.
In 2006, Canon alone launched 87 digital cameras. Bharadwaj said that the company plans to spend Rs30 crore on building its brand this year. Canon India has already signed on cricketer Sachin Tendulkar as its brand ambassador, the first such effort by a digital camera maker.
Sanyo, another new entrant in the market hopes to capture 4% of the digital camera market by the end of this year according to Oshima. And an executive at Kodak India said that the company would focus on cameras that emphasised style and performance.
“Due to high levels of awareness amongst the consumers, and prices becoming affordable, the number of participants in the digital photography space is much higher and more informed than it was before,” said Ravi Karamcheti, managing director, Kodak India.