Sony Announces Dramatic Drop in Forecasted Sales

Sony Announces Dramatic Drop in Forecasted Sales

Just as Canon announced that profits from its camera division have dropped by almost two-thirds, Sony has given an indication that it is not optimistic for the future, predicting that it will sell 1.4 million fewer cameras than it did in 2017.

Sony published its financial results for the first quarter of 2019 on July 30 and digging through the company’s figures can be quite tricky, perhaps as companies have a tendency to make bad news slightly awkward to find.

Tucked away on page 4 of a document entitled “Supplemental Information” is an indication of how sales are performing and what Sony expects over the remainder of the year. In 2017, it sold 4.4 million cameras, dropping to 3.6 million in 2018. The company now anticipates another fall of 800,000 units by the end of 2019. It’s worth noting that these figures are for cameras and do not include information for sensors.

Screenshot from "Supplemental Information" from Sony's Earnings Releases

Screenshot from "Supplemental Information" from Sony's Earnings Releases, July 30, 2019.

As a huge company with a wide variety of products being reported, trying to gauge how cameras are performing in terms of sales is no simple task. As reported by PhotoRumors, Sony Corp has revised its forecasts down as sales of games consoles, televisions and smartphones have dropped off more quickly than expected. A combination of factors such as market saturation and various trade wars are having an impact.

From these figures, it’s impossible to have any idea of how Sony’s downturn compares to that of Canon. If you’ve any thoughts on this, be sure to leave a comment below.

My thanks to C.E. Teal for digging through the data.

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92 Comments

jacob kerns's picture

It might be just me but I've been holding off buying any new cameras until I can see where Canon and Nikon go. I love mirrorless but nothing has made me dump my DSLRs yet. I do a have Sony a6000 I bought to play with but my Nikon DSLRs still produce what I need and I did the same thing when digital first came out I waited.

Rob Davis's picture

I agree with you. Now is a good time to hold for an all-around camera. Let’s see how much traction the new mounts from Canon and Nikon get as well as what’s going to happen with the L-mount alliance. I can’t think of a make-or-break reason to ditch DSLR’s for conventional photography.

You're going to be waiting for about 3 years. Just think of this logically.. Canon & Nikon sat around for almost 6 years... 6 YEARS... without taking mirrorless seriously... now we expect them to put out something well rounded in 2? What's missing from the idea of a well rounded camera that's realistic? As a user and trainer, ive met very few people who've maximized their use of any particular camera they've owned.

Rob Davis's picture

Mirrorless is just another type of viewfinder. Sensors haven’t changed much in recent years and won’t change much for the next few years. Maybe 36MP will become the standard rather than 24MP, but they’ll still be 14-bit Bayer sensors. No rush.

jacob kerns's picture

Well I don't see Nikon taking 3yrs. The Z6 and Z7 almost checked all the boxes. Their Nikon 1 line wasn't that bad if they took what they learned from that they could make a killer FF Nikon. The only issues I had with the Z6 and Z7 its that they were first cameras. I don't buy anything first round unless they are proven to be good after a year or so. Z6/Z7 seem to be holding up other than the IBIS issue. The single memory card slot didn't bother me as much as no vertical grip available for it.

Canon EOS R they only thing I don't like is the sensor and the controls.
Sonys seem to be hitting all the technology marks but lack in weather sealing.
Panasonic seem to have winners but I don't trust their FF frame yet but once they get all the lenses out it and been out for a while will have me keeping an eye out on them.

All Nikon has to do is release the Z6 with a vertical grip and maybe a 2nd memory card slot. Then I would buy it and use for the next 4-7yrs

David Pavlich's picture

Well, I wonder when Jared will make one of his 'News Fix' videos about Sony's downward forecast. I think I'll make a comment on his latest You Tube video that mentions Canon's downward trend. Maybe he hasn't heard about Sony's latest.

Tim Cray's picture

Why? He's just going to make another video with that stupid sniff test. LOL!

Nothing stupid about the sniff test. The lens will be very close to your nose. I choose by scent before focal lengths. Mmmm “vanilla-toothpaste”.

Tim Cray's picture

Really? If you believe that, then you're just as stupid as his stupid sniff test.

someones salty.......

Tim Cray's picture

I'm not salty at all, Jared. In fact, I'm subscribed to your channel. I like several aspects of your channel. I especially enjoy the real world tests you do with various cameras, lenses, accessories, etc. Just get rid of those idiotic sniff and wind tunnel tests and your channel will be one of the best ones on YouTube.

michaeljin's picture

As much as I enjoy new technology consistently coming to market, the truth is that they are probably iterating too quickly at this point. The cameras currently on the market are so good that it's very difficult to argue that upgrading is going to make a meaningful difference in all but the most extreme scenarios so it's becoming increasingly difficult to make a strong case for why people should upgrade to a new product. Obviously, the smartphone market has been dinging overall camera sales for a while now and that's not likely to hold up. Developing a new camera, however, costs R&D resources, which are probably difficult to make a good profit when you're turning over models so quickly in a shrinking market.

People have complained about Sony turning over their cameras too quickly in the past, but back then MILC's were fairly new and there were pretty big jumps between models. With the 3rd generation, I think that the cameras have matured quite a bit and despite this, we're already seeing the A7RIV announced even though one can very much argue that the A7RIII is still at the top of its class with no legitimate competition in sight. There's something to be said for staying on top, but I think that Sony could probably pace themselves a bit better and let their products breathe a bit before replacing them at this point. I'm not really sure how sustainable this rate of turnover is.

Lenzy Ruffin's picture

Agreed.

It's the same as the maturity of the PC industry. In the '90s, you would experience a dramatic increase in performance between this year's new model and the one that came out last year.

At that time, to keep a computer for five years and make no upgrades meant you were missing out on substantial performance improvements and there were tasks that you were not going to be able to perform with your existing setup.

Now, you can keep a computer for 8 to 10 years without needing to upgrade, unless your computing requirements significantly increase.

These MILCs have rapidly gotten to that point of diminishing returns.

I love the innovation. MILCs have significantly and rapidly expanded what capabilities we expect from a camera...stuff that DSLRs just can't do.

But we may now be reaching the point where there's not a whole lot more real innovation they can offer, as opposed to just padding stats like AF points, megapixels, frame rates, or similar things that just become vanity metrics beyond a certain point.

We may eventually end up with 150 megapixel cameras that can shoot 45 frames per second. I don't know what good that will do in a mass market camera, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if we end up there eventually just because it can be done.

This is when Sony should stick to the 3's and 4's 3 cameras per class - Refreshed every 4 years, firmware updates every 4 months, at least 3-4 lenses or accessories released a year, and focus more on continuing the development of their users communities. Create more of a sustainable eco system for the application of the end user products. I love what they are doing with the trips and be alpha program. They need to expand on that... Slowing down cameras is definitely needed bc right now everyone is racing to the moon for no real reason. Most over wanting from their camera, dont have the computing power for the video demands they are asking for. We have so many ridiculously great options for cameras now that it is mind blowingly frustrating to see people bash the current line ups for the demands of stuff they'll never really use besides making youtube b roll of the same shots over n over lol

Eric Salas's picture

It will definitely slow down but I think they jumped to staying ahead of the game and in more positive ways than negative, made the right decision.

Easier to continue pushing than play catch up as we’re seeing with Canikon now.

Rob Mitchell's picture

Oh hang on, I thought they were taking over the complete industry.

Eric Salas's picture

Considering Canon is down 22% in units and 55% in profits even after releasing the EOSR... the numbers are still in favor

Rob Mitchell's picture

I honestly don't give a shake about the numbers, or market share. My concern is that my camera works for me. It does.

Eric Salas's picture

You brought it up...just providing the facts.

Rob Mitchell's picture

I did, as a purely sarcastic comment. ;)

Steven Magner's picture

That may explain the 800,000 extra influencers/ambassadors to join team Sony last year.

Up to last year, Sony had a monopoly on mirrorless cameras. Now Nikon, Canon, Panasonic have joined the party. The were bound to lose market share/units sold because of this.

Felix C we don't know from those numbers exactly where the units are being lost and so can't really make any assumptions about marketshare in MILC specifically. Overall unit decline was expected due to contraction in the overall market.

I believe you mean full-frame mirrorless cameras. Olympus, Panasonic, and Fujfilm have been making mirrorless cameras for many years, and Canon's had APS-C mirrorless for over seven years now.

Hard numbers seem impossible to come by, but it seems generally accepted that full-frame is still a minority part of the camera business, whether DSLR or mirrorless. The drop in "digital cameras" is almost certainly driven by a big drop in Cyber-shot models, as the compact camera business implodes.

over 7 years? what interchangable lens mirrorless did canon have before the m50? anything without a pentaprism mirror is a mirrorless camera. So technically any point and shoot is a mirrorless but youre wrong. Canon has not been making ILC mirrorless for 7 years. You're thinking Sony. Epson actually made the first mirrorless camera if im correct. It's not about who did it first, it's about who lead the charge first. Saying that was anyone but Sony right now is rubbish. Where were all these mirrorless cameras when you walked into stores and saw NEX 5r's and 6's an 7's an 3ns? You had Samsung making their apsc mirrorless. You had other players making mft mirrorless. But no Canon was Not making mirrorless cameras 7 years ago

Canon EOS M, announced July 23, 2012. The first of the EF-M cameras. As with most early Canon MILC, it didn't have an EVF.

My comment wasn't about who was first. My comment was to contradict the statement that, "Up to last year, Sony had a monopoly on mirrorless cameras. Now Nikon, Canon, Panasonic have joined the party." Canon and Panasonic have been part of the "mirrorless" party for many years, just not full-frame mirrorless. Which is what I think Felix C. had meant.

from 3.6 to 3.0 is about a 17% drop which mirrors Canon's 17% drop which is very close to Canon's stated drop in the overall market of 18%. So really nothing exciting to see. Both companies are being affected by the overall market trend about evenly.

Andrew Morse's picture

The reality is the whole industry is contracting, and that will very likely continue to be true for the foreseeable future. Every camera company will be impacted by it, and in most cases the financial statements of these companies will be constructed in a way which makes it difficult to really tell which camera company is being chosen by photographers more. Cameras aren't the only product most of these companies produce, and protecting their image to investors means that they are more likely to blend struggling Camera performance with something else to make it hard to see how it's going.

The real issue and risk in my mind is when a company with other options starts to see their consumer camera division as an anchor on performance of other parts of the business. Would they decide offload their consumer camera division and focus on where they're making money, leaving users high and dry? Canon has their medical technology which is making money, Sony has entertainment which is making money, Nikon has several other business units too. Why would these companies pump money into a market which is shrinking when they own market in areas which are growing and giving them growth? Seeing a Sony or Nikon or Canon walk away from consumer cameras would upend a lot of photographers - that's the real risk.

Pedro Pulido's picture

my friends, there's a very easy solution. Drop your prices.
I know of cameras that arrive at the shop at 700$ and are sold for 1400$... This is not uncommon.
Stop being greedy and make your product more appealing. Lower the prices.

I'm not sure that's a good idea. The problem with ILC camera sales is the perception that cell phones are just as good. Lowering prices will only reinforce that perception.

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