Don't underestimate Samsung digital cameras

Don't underestimate Samsung digital cameras

Summary: While camera enthusiasts may be reluctant to count the Korean electronics giant among "real" camera vendors, Reuters is reporting that big names like Canon and Nikon are (and should be) worried about Samsung's big push into the digital camera market. Quoting IDC research, Reuters reports that Samsung more than doubled its digital market share in 2006, making it the fifth-best-selling digital camera maker (after Canon, Sony, Kodak, and Olympus).

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While camera enthusiasts may be reluctant to count the Korean electronics giant among "real" camera vendors, Reuters is reporting that big names like Canon and Nikon are (and should be) worried about Samsung's big push into the digital camera market. Quoting IDC research, Reuters reports that Samsung more than doubled its digital market share in 2006, making it the fifth-best-selling digital camera maker (after Canon, Sony, Kodak, and Olympus).The most exciting cameras at CES, continued…

Samsung has set some lofty goals for itself, with plans to become the top digital camera maker by 2010 by increasing sales by 46 percent (to 17.5 million units sold) this year. Considering its success when it took the flat-panel TV market by storm, Samsung is certainly a force to be reckoned with.

Back in 2003, when I was editor in chief at CNET.com, I traveled to Seoul and Tokyo to visit Samsung and Sony, respectively, on the same trip to Asia. The dramatic difference between the corporate cultures was very telling: Sony's product managers had a somewhat elitist "if you build it they will come" mentality, eschewing market research on user preferences, and relying on internal genius to drive product innovation. One exec actually told me that they knew better than their customers what features their customers want and need. In contrast, when I asked Samsung reps what they thought of the plasma vs. LCD debate for flat-screen TVs, they essentially answered "we'll back whatever users tell us they want."

So it's no surprise that the company is having its greatest success competing on price in the compact market, and will likely continue to do so, marketing to the least common denominator. But don't count the company out as an innovator completely. The wide-angle (3.6x optical zoom from 24mm to 86.5mm) Samsung NV24 HD, for example, drew interest at CES for its high-definition functionality and use of an AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode) screen. (Samsung also drew attention for its G20 DSLR, based on the Pentax K20D.)

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Samsung

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8 comments
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  • If their cameras are as good as their phones...

    If their cameras are as good as their mobile phones then canon and nikon have nothing to worry about. The interfaces of samsung phones are terrible. Maybe these phones have features "that users want" but the end result is terrible. These phones are just an unusable piles of features.
    paul2011
  • RE: Don't underestimate Samsung digital cameras

    Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder I guess. I have had several and the interface keeps getting better. I accidentally dropped a Samsung phone into a deep water tank for an hour. After drying it out it worked fine. Must be some good engineering for it to keep dry enough inside. Contrast that to my Nokia that got damp in a pocket during a rainstorm and never worked again.
    philip@...
    • Samsung phone UI

      I agree completely with the UI sentiments. I have a Samsung phone, that after 6 months I am still finding settings options. Why keep it, it's the smallest HSPDA phone available and happily glows in my pocket while I access the 'Net at 600kb via my PC (BT and congestion limited). "a pile of features" as described.

      I washed a Nokia 7250 once, rinse cycle and all, replaced the mic and it's still going strong.
      MrBeck
      • Tell

        Did it really come out whiter it did,did it, pry tell pleeeeze.,
        morrig
  • Samsung working with pentax.

    Samsung began a partnership with Pentax last year (or was it 2006?) which appears to have benefited both companies.

    The early samsung cameras were putting it mildly, atrocious. The sensor noise at ISO-200 or 400 was unbearable compared to the competition. I see that they have been steadily improving and that's a good sign.

    Their LCD TV's are far superior to the other Korean brand LG, and if their camera line gets the same level of attention and quality, then they show a lot of promise.
    kraterz
  • Samsung OK Printers Lousy Cameras

    Don't think Samsung is ready yet on cameras. When they first came out, we tried one. Many battery problems which were traced -- in a very wierd Samsung authorized service depot -- to "poor traces on the motherboard" which caused electrical leakage. We should have said "no repairs to a camera motherboard", but instead endured 8 months of on-again, off-again camera problems and six visits to Best Buy. Finally finagled an exchange for a Canon, which works flawlessly. Result? Samsung not ready for primetime on sophisticated products.
    jhmorris@...
  • RE: Don't underestimate Samsung digital cameras

    I had my wife pick up a cheap($120) Samsung 7 MP at Walmart when she dropped our Canon($250) while on a trip without me. To our suprise we like the picture quality of the Samsung better than the Canon 6 MP that we bought a year before. I know some of the cost differnce was due to the year inbetween purchases, but the comparable Canon/Kodak were 30-40% higher when she purchased. As a plus it is lighter and smaller. It takes a little longer between shots(2s vs 1.5s)and it will kill alkaline batteries. Rechargables seem to last alomost as long as in the Canon. If you need a camera for casual picture taking the cheaper Samsung is great.
    lancem@...
  • RE:Don't underestimate Samsung digital cameras

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