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Digital Imaging and the Death of Camera Stores
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Digital Imaging and the Death of Camera Stores

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How digital imaging put camera stores around the world out of business.

How digital imaging put camera stores around the world out of business.

Published in Business , Art & Photos
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  • Ilford is still around by the way , and maybe big camera stores are dead but not all the small ones are gone . Many have adapted as the business has changed. The major players in the field have also changed Sony is a huge name now and Richo bought Pentax, Olympus was saved by interest in micro 4/3's cameras , Panasonic is also huge now. Companies change in the 1970's where was 'Century' or even 'Graflex' they were out as Pentax , Mamyia & Konica gained in popularity.
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  • 1. The Death of Camera Stores
  • 2. Christian Sandström holds a PhD from ChalmersUniversity of Technology, Sweden. He writes and speaks about disruptive innovation and technological change.
  • 3. A revolution as sweptthrough the camera industry.
  • 4. 3025201510 5 0 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005Number of film and digital cameras sold in the United States
  • 5. It has put many formergiants and famous brands in some big, big trouble…
  • 6. Kodak has demolishedbuilding after building…
  • 7. … Polaroid is gone now…
  • 8. … Leica has had tough times…
  • 9. Konica is gone…
  • 10. … Agfa has been demolished…
  • 11. … Hasselblad merely survived...
  • 12. … Ilford died…
  • 13. … Bronica died...
  • 14. … And so did Contax…
  • 15. The manufacturers are notthe only ones who’ve been into bad times…
  • 16. Ritz Camera – the largest chain of camera stores in the USA, has gone bankrupt.
  • 17. Ritz is not alone incamera store heaven…
  • 18. I bet you know several camera stores in your hometown that have gone out of business.
  • 19. They may have looked something like this:
  • 20. This photo was taken in Kuwait and the building wasjust about to be demolished. Most likely, the camera store has gone out of business.
  • 21. There must bethousands of themaround the world…
  • 22. This is not exactly what you think of when someone says Photoshop today.
  • 23. In the UK, Jessops has been into a lot of difficulties.
  • 24. Recently, the company posted aloss of 50£ million and the stock crashed once again.
  • 25. The Executive Chairman David Adams stated that:"We cant carry on carrying £57m worth of debt on a business which is generating £4m."
  • 26. The firm also stated that:
  • 27. "This is the first time for many years that the digital camera market as a wholehas seen such a slowdown."
  • 28. Well, the market for digital cameras may beincreasingly saturated and the recession may be worsening the situation.
  • 29. But given that so many camera stores, all over theworld, havegone out ofbusiness…
  • 30. … Thesecannot be theonly reasons...
  • 31. The underlyingbusiness modelfor these storesmust have been destroyed in some way with the shift todigital imaging.
  • 32. Let’s try tofind out howand why this happened.
  • 33. Needless to say, the camera stores sold cameras…
  • 34. .... Lenses andaccessories.
  • 35. The consumption of film generatedcontinuous revenues and visits to the local camera store.
  • 36. And they repaired your camera.
  • 37. Cambridge 1987
  • 38. … They provided service to their customers and were usually skilled in the art of photography and at repairing cameras.
  • 39. I found the following story and photo on Flickr:
  • 40. “I bought a new Pentax K10 and Mom gave me Dads old K1000 and lenses just before we went onvacation. When I arrived in Ottawa I found there was an incompatibility with the telephoto and the K10. I happened to wander past the Camera TradingCompany and stopped in. Thomas was able to figure out the problem and came up with a solution, at no charge. Thanks Thomas.“
  • 41. You wouldnever go to Best Buyor Wal Mart and ask the staff for help with your Pentax.
  • 42. However, with the rise of digital imaging,Thomas and his peers throughout the worldhave lost ground to Best Buy and the other super stores for consumer electronics.
  • 43. Let’s go through the differentsources of revenues and seehow they were destroyed by digital imaging.
  • 44. 1. Camera sales
  • 45. With the shift to digital imaging, camera sales exploded and thebig retailers couldsell huge volumes.
  • 46. Since new modelsare introduced at amuch higher pace when an industry is digital, it washard for the small dealers to reach sufficient economies of scale.
  • 47. Hence, they had to chargemore than the big retailers.
  • 48. In addition to this, more and more people started to buy cameras over the internet instead of going to a store.
  • 49. 2. Film sales and development of it.
  • 50. Well, for most people, film is dead…
  • 51. And the death of film implied less revenues and less visits to the camera stores.
  • 52. Film dropped – bigtime.
  • 53. 3. Repairing cameras. Cambridge 1987
  • 54. Have you ever repaired a compact camera?
  • 55. Probably not.
  • 56. Maybe you have askedsomeone to repair your SLR, but unless it’s a really expensive one you would most likely regard it as a reason to buy a new one.
  • 57. Right?
  • 58. There are two reasons for this trend.
  • 59. Digital products decrease rapidly inprice since new and better modelstend to be launched at a high pace.
  • 60. At the same time, wages inmany countriesare very high in relation to these goods.This means that consultingsomeone to fix your camerawould cost a lot in relation to what the camera costs.
  • 61. This is thecase with all consumerelectronics.Back in 2003 I had thisNokia phone.
  • 62. It got ill after a rainstorm, so I went tothe store and asked if itwas possible to repair it.
  • 63. They wanted 300 SEK for checking if this waspossible, and if so, this would cost me 1200 SEK.
  • 64. For that amount of money I could buy a new, muchbetter phone.
  • 65. It’s exactly the same with digital cameras.
  • 66. ’If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’
  • 67. has become
  • 68. ’If it is broke, don’t fix it – buy a new one’.
  • 69. Camera Care isn’t a booming business nowadays.
  • 70. Thus, another source of revenuefor the camera stores diminished with the rise of digital imaging.
  • 71. Because of all this, the camera storeswere put in a situation where they could not compete on price.
  • 72. The film business had collapsed.
  • 73. And the need for reparation had alsodecreased with the rise of digital imaging.
  • 74. The only competitive advantagesleft were the personalskills and the sales ofaccessories.
  • 75. But the overall decline in this businessimplied thatcosts had to be cutsomewhere.
  • 76. The storeswere forced to slashmuch of theircompetitive advantage.
  • 77. Many people at differentphoto forums have complainedabout the low level ofknowledge atRitz and Wolf.
  • 78. These stores were most likely aware ofthis, but were stuck in a vicious cycle.
  • 79. Dropping film sales, price competition from big retailers and a reduced need for reparation – all these factorscontributed to the fall of camera stores around the world.
  • 80. All this is related to one thing:
  • 81. The shift to digital imaging.
  • 82. Image attributionshttp://www.flickr.com/photos/djking/1185670528/
  • 83. Find out more:www.christiansandstrom.org