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Animated Chart: The Smartphone Effect on the Camera Market

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Charting the Smartphone Effect on the Camera Market

The smartphone camera has come a long way since the early 2000s, and its impact on the overall camera market cannot be understated.

In fact, modern smartphones have become so sophisticated that the CEO of Sony’s semiconductor manufacturing company predicts that smartphone cameras will soon produce better quality images than DSLR cameras.

Whether smartphones will be able to completely replace standalone cameras is still a contentious debate topic, but one thing is clear—while smartphone sales have skyrocketed over the last decade, digital camera sales have plummeted.

This animation by James Eagle compares annual sales data for film cameras, digital cameras, and smartphones over the years to show just how much smartphones have impacted the camera market.

A (Brief) History of Standalone Cameras

Below, we’ve broken down the history of cameras into three overarching periods: early cameras, film cameras, and digital cameras.

Early Cameras

Cameras have been around for thousands of years, with descriptions of camera-like devices found in historical writings dating back as far as the 4th century:

  • 330 AD: Ancient Chinese texts describe a device known as a camera obscura. Similar to pinhole cameras, these didn’t produce actual photographs, but rather reflected light onto screens which could then be traced to produce a lasting image.
  • Early 1800s: It’s generally accepted that Joseph Nicéphore Niépce invented the first photographic camera in 1816. Using silver chloride, Niépce managed to develop an image that’s still around today.
  • 1840s: Early cameras produced negative images which had to be color corrected, until mirrored cameras were invented. Alexander S. Wolcott was the first person to patent a mirrored camera in 1840.
  • 1871: Richard Leach Maddox came up with an invention that led to instantaneous exposure, meaning cameras only needed to be exposed to light for a few seconds before producing an image.

These early inventions were critical milestones in the development of the modern-day camera. However, cameras and film weren’t available to the masses until Kodak’s Brownie camera made photography relatively cheap.

The Emergence of Film Cameras

Released in 1900, the Kodak Brownie was a handheld, inexpensive roll film camera invented by George Eastman.

When it first launched, the camera sold for $1.00, equivalent to about $35.48 in 2022 dollars. With more than 100,000 cameras sold within the first year, Eastman is often credited for making photography accessible to the masses.

Fast forward a few decades, and technological advancements led to features in cameras like viewfinders, different shutter speeds, and detachable lenses. These features were possible on what’s known as twin lens reflex cameras, or TLR for short, but they were soon replaced by single lens reflex cameras (SLR).

Digital Cameras Enter the Scene

By the late 1990s, digital cameras were invented and began quickly outselling film cameras.

Unlike their film counterparts, digital cameras feature a digital sensor, and store images on a memory card which could store thousands of pictures.

Digital camera sales grew throughout the early 2000s—in 2005 the Photo Marketing Association International even estimated that 52% of households would own a digital camera by the end of the year.

The Smartphone Camera Changes the Game

In the early 2000s, camera phones were far less powerful than their standalone counterparts.

For instance, one of the first camera phones to hit the market, Samsung’s SCH-V200, could take 20 pictures at 0.35-megapixel resolution. In contrast, Canon’s EOS D30 digital camera released the same year had a resolution of 3 megapixels.

But the advent of the iPhone, and the rollout and accessibility of modern smartphones with powerful cameras, quickly saw many non-enthusiasts switch to smartphone cameras only. In 2022, Google’s Pixel 7 has multiple built-in cameras, with both a 50 megapixel wide rear camera and a 12 megapixel ultrawide rear camera. In comparison, Canon’s ​​enthusiast EOS 850 has a 24.1 megapixel sensor.

The animated chart above highlights the direct impact on the digital camera market after its 2009/2010 peak:

YearDigital Camera Sales
199910.2 million
2009121.2 million
20218.4 million

So does that make a modern smartphone camera better? Not at all, as there are other a multitude of factors to consider when assessing a camera’s quality besides resolution. But in an article in Wired Magazine, tech journalist Sam Kieldsen explains how the market has shifted:

[Smartphones have] effectively killed off the cheap pocket point-and-shoot camera already, but there’s still so much they can’t do in comparison to a true purpose-built mirrorless or DSLR camera. Low light image quality, convincing bokeh effects and extreme close-up macro photography are all still significantly better on a real camera.

Smartphones may not be fully replacing DSLR cameras anytime soon, but they’ve certainly changed the industry and game in which it plays.

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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Technology

Chart: The Price of Entertainment Subscription Services

From Netflix to Google Play Pass, we compare the cost of subscription services across a range of entertainment platforms.

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This bar chart shows the price of entertainment subscription services per month.

The Price of Entertainment Subscription Services

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Subscription models have become ubiquitous in the entertainment sector, providing a recurring stream of revenue to a host of platforms.

While inattentive customers using subscription models can increase revenue by as much as 200%, many entertainment platforms struggle to make a profit. In fact, Netflix and Disney are the only two profitable streaming services in the market.

This graphic shows the cost of entertainment subscription services, based on data compiled by Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research and the providers of entertainment subscriptions.

Comparing Monthly Entertainment Subscription Costs

Here are the monthly subscription cost of various entertainment platforms as of April 2024:

SubscriptionMonthly Price (USD)Category
Spotify$10.99Music
YouTube Music$10.99Music
Apple Music$10.99Music
Audible$15.00Books
Scribd$11.99Books
Kindle Unlimited$11.99Books
Netflix$15.49Video
Sling TV$40.00Video
Disney+$13.99Video
Hulu+$17.99Video
Paramount+$11.99Video
Apple TV+$9.99Video
HBO Max$15.99Video
Amazon Prime Video$11.98Video
YouTube Premium$13.99Video
Apple Arcade$6.99Gaming
Google Play Pass$4.99Gaming
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate$16.99Gaming
Playstation Plus Premium$17.99Gaming
Nintendo Switch Online$3.99Gaming
NY Times (Digital)$4.00/month first six months,
$25 thereafter
News
Apple News+$12.99News
Wall Street Journal Digital$19.49/month first six months,
$38.99 thereafter
News

Prices represent standard individual plans with no ads excluding promotional periods/prices less than two months. YouTube Premium Video subscription includes YouTube Music which can be purchased seperately.

As we can see, the price of major music subscription services remains lower than many other forms of entertainment—with standard subscriptions costing 35% lower than Netflix in America.

Since late 2022, several music streaming platforms including Spotify, Apple, and YouTube, have increased their subscription price, marking the first increase in more than 10 years. In June, Spotify raised its price again, charging $11.99 per month for an individual plan.

Across video platforms, Amazon Prime Video makes up the largest share of the U.S. video-on-demand market, at 22% as of Q1 2024. Netflix falls closely behind, with a 21% share. Over the last two years, Netflix’s revenue has jumped following a password-sharing crackdown, integrating ads, and slowing content expenditures.

Often, streaming services add content to replace lost customers. This is because viewers will switch to providers that offer the shows they want to watch. Due to this churn, streaming providers lose on average 35% of their customers each year. To combat this, some providers are bundling content offerings to retain their customer base, such as Disney+, Hulu, and Max or Paramount+ and Showtime.

As an outlier from the pack, Sling TV offers live TV and sports broadcasting along with on-demand movies and shows, charging $40 per month.

When it comes to news subscriptions, major outlets charge among the highest in the dataset. With a monthly subscription price of $25 after the first six months, The New York Times has 9.7 million digital-only subscribers, roughly three times as many as The Wall Street Journal. These subscriptions are the biggest source of revenue for the publication, rising by more than eightfold over the last decade.

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