Lens shortage bites into digicam production|
(Thursday, April 17, 2003 - 04:36 EDT)
An interesting news item from Nikkei Electronics Asia notes that a shortage of lenses over the last year held back digital camera production.
The story, picked up by the excellent Future Image Report, says that despite the supply problems, the digital camera market grew by 66% to 24.55 million units in 2002. With projections having been for around 20 million units, optics manufacturers were apparently caught unprepared for the demand - and the article predicts that the problem could continue in the near future.
Nikon are apparently projecting that even with newly expanded facilities, they'll only be able to meet 60 - 70% of demand without having to enlist other manufacturers to meet the shortfall, and they're not the only manufacturer concerned about the situation. Tamron president Morio Ono is quoted as saying:
"If we don't boost our output, the lens shortage will quickly become serious."As noted by our friends at Future Image, the fact that entry-level cameras and devices such as cell-phones are featuring increasingly high resolutions means that cheap optics simply aren't acceptable any more, and demand for quality optics is growing rapidly. The situation isn't likely to get better quickly, since increasing production whilst maintaining quality necessitates a lot of planning - and if manufacturers are already behind the ball, it may take some time to catch up and meet demand once more.