Phone Cameras Displace Stand-Alone Cameras.

Standalone digital cameras are disappearing as fast as they appeared, reports IC Insights, as cameras in phones become as good as stand-alone cameras.

Total stand-alone camera shipments peaked in 2011 at 143 million units.

Worldwide stand-alone camera shipments are expected to fall by a CAGR of -10% between 2012 and 2017 compared to an annual average growth rate of just 1% in the 2007-2012 period and nearly 31% per year in the 2002-2007 timeframe.

The semiconductor market for all digital camera systems (both cameras embedded in phones and stand-alone systems) is expected to reach $29.2 billion in 2017 compared to $23.0 billion in 2012, which represents a CAGR of 4.9%.

However, when stand-alone cameras are excluded, IC sales for embedded cameras and imaging systems are forecast to grow by a CAGR of 11.9%, reaching $23.9 billion in 2017 compared to $13.6 billion in 2012.

IC sales for stand-alone digital cameras are projected to decline at an annual average rate of -10.5% in the forecast period, while revenues for integrated circuits used in automotive camera systems are expected to surge by a CAGR of 113.3% between 2012 and 2017. Sales of ICs for tablet and PC cameras are forecast to rise by a CAGR of 20.2% while cellphone camera integrated circuits are expected to rise by an annual rate of 9.0% in the 2012 2017 period.

The decline in stand-alone camera shipments accelerated in 2013, causing most suppliers to reduce the number of models being sold to consumers and to focus more efforts on higher-priced digital single-lens reflex (D-SLR) cameras.

Sales of D-SLR models are still growing but not by enough to keep the camera business from shrinking.

For many years, stand-alone cameras drove advancements in digital imaging systems—including greater picture resolution in image sensors, more powerful camera processors, and higher density nonvolatile NAND flash memory.

But the decline in stand-alone camera shipments has caused a number of IC suppliers to shift strategies and seek out other expanding markets. Cellular phones continue to be a major growth application for digital cameras and imaging, but IC Insights predicts high growth rates for several other embedded applications this decade including automotive, tablets & PCs, security & surveillance, and medical/scientific/industrial, which will open high-volume market opportunities for image sensor suppliers and IC makers in the near future.



  1. Although camera chips are getting more efficient the fundamental problem of size of lens still exists. The bigger the lens the more light enters the camera, which means better low light pictures, and more detail.

  2. Absolutely SilverMan, that’s the key point.

  3. Difficult to say that camera phones are as good as stand-alone cameras. there is no optical zoom at all on my samsung galaxy’s camera.
    Certainly correct however to say camera phones are good enough for what most people (myself included) require – and that is a device for taking “snaps”.

  4. What a surprise! You would have thought this new blessing for humanity would be a huge driver of camera shipments. I am baffled as to why IC Insights didn’t mention it.

  5. Interesting that IC Insights doesn’t predict significant sales of cameras for google glassy type gadgets.

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