The Rise and Fall of Digital Cameras


The assumptions of how the future would be shaped involve uncertainty, creativity, and imagination. The fundamental shifts in societal, technological, political, and several other factors played a significant role with a high level of ambiguity and complexity. Visualizing the future landscape exceeded the ability to perform forecasting as it involved additional factors and variables that might be out of control and unseen (Wade, 2014). Hiltunen (2009) emphasized the process has nothing to do with forecasting but instead focuses on predicting the unpredictable future to enable an organization to be more flexible and innovative. The technique demonstrated usefulness and efficiency when uncertainty was involved (Amer et al., 2013), which could innovate and fit service, idea, or product in an assortment of scenarios. In certain circumstances, organizations failed to cope with the evolving future that threatened the business line and its survival.

The Digital Camera Market

            The Camera and Imaging Product Association (CIPA) report announced a severe drop in global sales by 87% between 2010 and 2019 (Mordor Intelligence, 2019). In 2018, the digital camera industry declined 80% to 19 million, while smartphones achieved 400 million sales units in the same year (Hornyak, 2019). The leading cause of the digital camera drop was due to the significant shift in using smartphones with multi-lens. Essentially, the transformation does not consider replacing the higher end DSLR and mirrorless cameras as smartphones still lack significantly in quality, at least till today. However, the market for amateurs taking personal photographs is not considering obtaining a professional camera due to the associated cost and versatility involved (Jewell, 2018).

Olympus, a significant player in the digital camera business, announced running out of business after 84 years due to the severe non-profitable market (BBC, 2020). Kodak, the most dominant company in most of the entire 20th century and almost 80% of the global market share in the photography field, declared bankruptcy in 2012 (Taneja, 2020). Other vendors such as Fuji, Canon, and Nikon are struggling severely and finding alternatives to stay in the market (Hornyak, 2019). Several analysts believed that vendors unsuccessfully foreseen the evolving industry. The market could be impacted by other factors articulated by Moore’s Law with a variation of acceleration and evolvement. For example, the influences included expanding memory storage, technology advancements, AI use in smartphones, and price reduction.

In the case of Kodak and according to Mui (2012), the reason was the management’s incapability and failure to realize digital photography as a disruptive technology (Mui, 2012). In Nikon’s case, there was a misstep in anticipating the rapidly evolving industry in standalone cameras (Hornyak, 2019). The company was able to transform its business to maintain survival and market share. The company strategy seeks product innovation and focuses on specific user activities such as weddings and wildlife that are highly in demand for several platforms such as Instagram and YouTube (Mordor Intelligence, 2019). In an effort to reduce the impact, Canon focused on the DSLR market and positioning itself with nearly 00% of the japan market alone. Additionally, the company acclaimed Toshiba Medical System to revisit its medical domain operations, Axis in security cameras, and Océ in high-speed printing. With the ability to realize the future, scenario planning is considered an ambitious five-year plan from 2021 to witness a 7-8% business growth.


In many cases, practicing scenario planning does not necessitate success and business survival. Business vision and creativity are the main critical success factor, might demand visionaries, futurists, and pioneers. The practice involves understanding the factors that might shape the future, whether societal, technical, and even political. The emergence of the smartphone might threaten the future of a digital camera unless the latter evolves itself as well. When smartphones could accelerate evolving to pose a severe threat to professional photography, the controversial question is still not answered.


Amer, M., Daim, T. U., & Jetter, A. (2013). A review of scenario planning. Futures46, 23-40.

BBC (2020). Olympus quits the camera business after 84 years.

Hiltunen, E. (2009). Scenarios: process and outcome. Journal of Futures Studies13(3), 151-152.

Hornyak, T. (2019, July). How Canon, Nikon, and other Japanese camera companies are fighting for survival in the Smartphone era, CNBC.

Jewell, A. (2018, May). Smartphone vs. digital camera – do you need both? Techbuzz.

Mordor Intelligence (2019). Digital Camera Market – Growth, Trends, And Forecasts (2020 – 2025).

Mui, C. (2012). How Kodak Failed, Forbes.

Taneja. Y. (2020, December). Why Kodak Fail? | Kodak Bankruptcy Case Study. Startup Talky.

Wade, W. (2014, February). Beyond forecasting: how to use scenario planning to map the future.

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