When was the last time you snapped a picture with your digital camera? For many, the answer is "months" or "years".
Widespread usage of smartphone cameras is pushing point-and-shoot digital camera sales into a "free fall", say analysts, and there's little hope of a turnaround for the market.
Digital camera shipments by Japanese manufactures plunged 32.5 percent on year to 3.96 million units in September, marking the 29th consecutive month of declines, according to data published by the Camera & Imaging Products Association, a Tokyo-based industry group, this week.
Domestic shipments fell 28.6 percent to 540,000 units, while export shipments fell 33 percent to 3.42 million.
Shipment volume declined 32.5 percent in Europe, 41.9 percent in the Americas, 21.9 percent in Asia, and 27.4 percent in other regions.
Digital cameras are taking a different course from other consumer electronics goods such as TVs, laptops and smartphones, which first took off in developed markets and then in emerging markets, said Wee Teck Loo, head of consumer electronics at Euromonitor.
"This isn't the case with digital cameras. Consumers in emerging markets aren't buying digital cameras at all," Loo said. "For the price of an entry level camera, at $150-200, consumers are able to buy a mid-range smartphone that provides many more features."
Tetsuya Wadaki, analyst at Nomura, who proclaimed the digital camera market was in a "free fall" in a note this week, said weak demand at Canon, the world's largest camera maker by sales, is emblematic of overall market conditions.