The World According to CIPA


Each year just prior to CP+, CIPA puts together their estimate for the current calendar year. Here are 2015 estimates mapped against the last three year actuals, according to CIPA:

bythom cipa2015 forecast

Just like last year—which didn’t work out as expected—CIPA is forecasting a significant “flattening” of the declines. 

Just for fun, let’s just look at interchangeable lens cameras from 2009 to present, and add in CIPA’s 2015 forecast and Sony Semiconductor’s 2016 forecast:

bythom cipailc

Hmm, CIPA’s estimate for 2015 looks a little high, doesn’t it? ;~) How’s that work? 

CIPA gets estimates from its member companies. Those member companies—particularly Canon and Nikon—have very public forward estimates, and neither company wants its shareholders to think Armageddon is near, so it’s probably better for them to be a little optimistic and then revise downward later. 

Meanwhile Sony Semiconductor sells to everyone in this category except Canon. They have a pretty good idea of the number of orders they’re getting and why, and how that stacks up to the total market. They also aren’t relying upon camera sensors to make their financial numbers; they clearly believe that mobile and automotive are where their sensor growth is. So Sony has less reason to be overly optimistic in their forecast. Indeed, if anything, perhaps a bit pessimistic, because they want shareholders to understand why they’re investing so much in the mobile and automotive sensor market.

It really doesn’t matter how you interpret things, though. This just isn’t a strong picture we’re looking at here. Best case is that we see further decline in interchangeable lens cameras. That’s best case. And that’s from the most optimistic players in the room. 

Still, CIPA’s press release just has me scratching my head: “It is highly expected that there will be a so-called step-up demand among users who first discover the joy of photography with low-end digital cameras and smartphones. That is, these users will gradually seek higher resolution and higher functionality that allows them to take photographic scenes that will never be possible with low-end products and so they purchase higher-end digital cameras to improve their photographic experience. In summary, shipments of digital cameras with an interchangeable lens are projected to show steady growth compared to that of digital cameras with a built-in lens."

Go ahead, I’ll give you a minute to parse that seemingly optimistic statement.

Got it yet? 

Here it is: sales of cameras will be down, but ILC cameras will be down less.

But in CIPA-speak, it reminds me of this little ditty: 

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear
And curse
When you’re chewing on
Life’s gristle
Don’t grumble, give a whistle
And this’ll help things turn out for the best...
Always look on the bright side of life.

I mean, what have you got to lose?
You know you come from nothing
You’re going back to nothing
What have you lost? Nothing
Always look on the bright side of life...

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