Caffeine Priority: Yikes! Parts shortages to lead to a dismal dearth of digicams?

by Dave Etchells

posted Wednesday, October 28, 2015 at 4:45 AM EST


Wake up with IR - Here's today's dose of Caffeine Priority!

Will supply shortages mean a bleak Christmas for digicams? At least one industry insider thinks so...

I'm just back from the annual Photo Plus Expo (PPE) show in New York, and one of the many things I like about that show is the great chance it provides to catch up with a lot of industry people I've known for years.

One of the insiders I had a chance to catch up with this time was a guy I've known since the earliest days of the digital era, now working for one of the large camera makers. I won't indentify him further than that, but he's been around the block a time or two, and is well-positioned to know the state of the industry.

He shared a tidbit with me that I thought our readers would find interesting as well: Based on what he's seeing, there could be shortages of point & shoot cameras heading into this year's holiday season.

Parts like this may soon be in short supply due to manufacturers
having moved on to other industries

It's no secret that smartphones have pulled sales of point & shoot cameras way, way down in recent years, with most camera companies having cut way back on their digicam lines. (We expect to see at least one company to exit the digicam segment of the business entirely after the holiday season.)

The thing is, this doesn't affect just the camera manufacturers themselves, but also the entire supply chain of sub-manufacturers, making things like LCD screens, shutters, optical elements, etc. These companies have already seen their sales decimated, and can read the writing on the wall; the message is "find another line of business, or go out of business." 

This is exactly what's happening; many component and subassembly manufacturers have found other more profitable or more stable items to manufacture, so are shifting their production lines to these new products, instead of digicam parts.

The problem for the camera makers is that this supply-chain exodus is happening faster than camera demand is declining. The result? Increasing parts shortages, and a scramble to secure adequate supplies for the 2015 holiday season and beyond. My source said that his company had seen the problem developing early enough that they were able to lock-in contracts to cover their own production plans, but that it looks like some others are just waking up to the problem. 

It's not clear how much of the camera market this will affect. The supply-chain shift has been caused by the huge declines in sales of low-end digicams, but in some cases, those same manufacturers have also been making components for higher-end models as well.

The bottom line? Don't wait till the last minute to make your holiday digicam purchases this year, as supplies could run short, leaving you stranded.

You're welcome... ;-)

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Caffeine Priority is a new series of short photo-tidbits to ease you into your day, and give us a chance to share a bit more of what life’s like here at IR. We're more like a group of friends testing and talking about cameras and lenses than the buttoned-down, big-corporation world that some of our photo-friends at other companies work in; hopefully these little snippets will share some of that. So... grab another coffee and join in the conversation with us down below!