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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michaeljin's picture

Not entirely sure what you're looking for in this regard... there's more education readily available from manufacturers as well as independent sources than there has ever been before.

michaeljin's picture

Pretty much all of these companies not only host events and workshops, but they have tutorials on YouTube and their ambassadors regularly upload educational content on their respective channels. Is there some specific sort of education you're looking for?

michaeljin's picture

Ahh, well I was referring primarily to showing people how to use the cameras that they have already purchased. If you are talking about trying to get people to upgrade from their phones to purchasing their first dedicated camera, I'm not entirely sure that there's a simple way to do that. :/

michaeljin's picture

I'm not sure... You're going to run into a lot of challenges. You need to convince people to pay hundreds of dollars for another device to take up space on their person. Unlike a phone, a camera can only serve two functions (photos and video), both of which are available on the phone already. Cameras and sensors on phones are pretty good already for everyday use and are aided by AI enhancements as well as direct app integration.

Dedicated cameras have a learning curve and since you can't just edit and upload images or video straight to social media from the camera, it creates a more complicated workflow for people who are always looking for more convenience. For the average phone shooter who doesn't yet own a camera, what are the practical benefits of moving to an ILC system?

Newer phones already have multiple focal lengths built-in. They can simulate pretty much whatever DoF you want convincingly enough. They have built-in HDR modes and AI-assisted low-light capabilities that actually produce decent results for screen resolution (most people don't print). Of course the image quality is objectively lower, but does this really matter all that much when you're posting on IG? It's a tricky sell. :/

The way things are going, I think Sony may just win the photography wars by killing off the dedicated camera market entirely with the sensors that they're selling to cellphone companies.

it's not as difficult as you think. Have someone take a picture in their house during the day without turning on every light in the house. Tell someone to take their phone to a concert. Smartphones are great for close range shooting. That's it. People flock to stores intimidated by the technology or the idea of a camera thinking it's complicated bc old school photographers suck at sharing any type of info and make themselves seem more significant than they are by overcomplicating photography. THATS what really holds people back.. It's not that people want to stick with their phones bc most people do not want to shoot with their phones because they know the quality once it goes to a bigger screen or print. The mobile photography industry is breathing life into camera sales. The simple fact is cameras are NOT phones OR cars. You dont need a new model every year. People should hold onto a camera for realistically 4-6 years before wanting an upgrade. Pro's are the only people who should be hot swapping camera bodies... For consumers to do that is just stupid.

michaeljin's picture

I disagree. The #1 thing that holds people back is the fact that they don't want to carry another device around-particularly one as bulky as an ILC camera. This is the same reason why the dedicated portable audio player pretty much died and it's only diehard audiophiles that still carry them around with their portable headphone amp attached. The average person simply doesn't care about the quality difference enough to warrant dropping hundreds of dollars on dedicated gear that weighs them down.

Alec Kinnear's picture

Good photography is complicated. Heck I've been shooting for over forty years now (started when I was eight with one of those reflex top down cameras) and while I'm good at natural light portraits, performance, sports and landscape I still have a great deal to learn in landscape, wildlife, fashion and commercial portrait. And that's leaving out film and fine art photography entirely.

It isn't just throw down $2000 and walk away with amazing images. For someone in this category, a top tier cellphone camera might just be more forgiving.

Rafal Wegiel's picture

I am not sure if You can call this education. They want to move their product and their objective is to sell it. I think if people would know what they can actually do with their gear they wouldn't upgrade it every time new toys hit the store. I don't want to be sarcastic but they want clients who dont know what they can do with their equipment... thats why we get those flashy commercials loaded with technicalities which most people dont even understand and rings and bells which most of us dont need just to make us feel insecure so we can buy their product.

michaeljin's picture

That's an unfortunate part of relying on a corporation to educate you. As I said, however, there are plenty of other third party online resources who are not sponsored by a particular corporation out there with free educational material. Unless people are suggesting that these companies band together and create some sort of accredited school or something, I don't understand the "lack of education" complaint. There's certainly no lack of education available to anyone with a computer and an internet connection.

Rafal Wegiel's picture

What I mean by lack of education is exactly what you have said. The content is produced by third party resources. Those companies don't create any content to help their customers to use their products in better way. Actually its very hard to find anything everything depends on those so called photo gear reviewers who most of the time can talk about the products itself but they are not professional photographers. I see thousands videos about which camera is better but just very few good educational videos where You can actually learn something which will make you a better photographer. Maybe I am wrong but that's the way I see this entire industry.

michaeljin's picture

Obviously I'm not going to go through every single company and all of the various ambassadors, but this is just some of the stuff that's out there and not difficult to find (this took about 5 minutes of searching as I write this).

Obviously, anything sponsored by a company is going to use their own equipment, but just replace "Sony 85mm f/1.4 G-Master Lens" with "fast 85mm lens" or "Profoto Beauty Dish" with "beauty dish" and you can get general advice. There's everything from tips and tutorials specific to particular gear to general photography education.

Sony: https://alphauniverse.com/explore/
Canon: https://www.usa.canon.com/internet/portal/us/home/learn/education/
Nikon: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLrTWTpnPJnyy7rulW0LtZlsQSE1j0ulYg
Elinchrom: https://youtu.be/WKpj-QyUKOk

Profoto: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLusyj0Ti_MhACqrO1KXCX3xI2-71xQPUj
Hensel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLmfJURui7X_ps33bPZNc9c3E6mTdTXkRu
Adorama: https://www.youtube.com/user/adoramaTV/playlists

Even if you take away all of the independent resources who aren't sponsored by any particular brand, if you think that there's a lack of education, I think you're just not looking hard enough. There's more than enough readily available education out there to take you from complete beginner to a photographer capable of producing professional results. :/

Rafal Wegiel's picture

We're running circles right now and we are going nowhere with this discussion. The links you have sent me they are pushing the product not knowledge. Either they show you someone who shows you great images and tell you if you use this equipment that's what you gonna get but nobody tells you exactly how to get from point a to point b or they show something to make you feel insecure to buy their product. Please look at them closely and try to analyze them. You confuses inspiration with education and those are two completely different things. Anyways nice chatting with You.

michaeljin's picture

Even just that one Elinchrom video is literally a guy spending an hour going over shooting with a single light and explaining exactly why he's doing what he's doing. Yes, he uses Elinchrom gear because he's an Elinchrom ambassador, but you can just replace Elinchrom light with Godox or whatever else and Elinchrom octabox with whatever other brand octabox and it's the same exact thing. The Nikon Live talks are their ambassadors going through everything from their choice of gear and settings to their thinking process behind the subject matter and composition. The Profoto link has some extremely in-depth knowledge that can be applied to anything brand of lighting. The Canon link has tips about their specific gear to help you use it better.

Obviously all of these companies are going to use their specific products and take the time to promote them. That's a given and that's why I said that it's best to replace a specific product with just the generic category when you watch them. There's a wealth of real knowledge in there if you look for it. If you just want to "get from point a to point b", you wouldn't even get that at an accredited university-level photography program. There are so many "point a's" and "point b's" that it makes no sense to teach like that. You teach the functions of the camera. You teach exposure. You teach concepts of composition. You teach how light behaves and how lighting modifiers behave. Taking the concepts and putting them together to create a desired result is up to the student. It's not reasonable to expect these companies to attempt to reach out and hold every single person's hand in that kind of manner. They're talking to a broad audience so the education is bound to be somewhat generic.

Tim Cray's picture

@ Rafal Wegiel...Nikon's "Learn and Explore" section on their website offers plenty of tips, techniques, etc. on how to use their cameras.

michaeljin's picture

I don't see this happening, but there will most certainly be a LOT of angry people if it does.

Tim Cray's picture

Good one, Pat. LOL!

Edison Wrzosek's picture

You just couldn't resist to come into another Sony article to troll with your diatribe I see...

Look at the world economy as a whole, and not just the micro corner of photography, and you'll see MANY companies are in trouble and reporting significant drops, just look at Nissan, Samsung, Ford, and your precious Canon and Nikon, to name but a few.

This is a sign of things to come on a broader scale.

I know you're foaming at the mouth to see Sony die for some stupid reason, but save your salivating for yourself and spare us your hyperbole.

Gerald Bertram's picture

I saw the title of this article and my first thought was "I wonder what my good friend Jan will have to say about this!" I'll be honest you were a little restrained :-)

Tim Cray's picture

@ Jan Kruize...You know, I wasn't going to comment on your post, but I changed my mind. Your idiotic comment: "Professionals do their work and amateurs are reading website like Fstoppers to read how very good their camera is..." strikes me as not only arrogant, but utterly stupid. This website posts plenty of useful articles other than camera reviews. People aren't as gullible as you seem to think they are, Pal. And before you accuse me of being a "fanboy," I happen to own Nikon, Sony, Panasonic, and Canon cameras.

Tim Cray's picture

What I see is that the entire camera industry sales are declining and an arrogant, self-righteous idiot like yourself who thinks he knows more than anyone else. In case you've failed to comprehend my statement, allow me to clarify it for you; I don't like people who are patronizing and condescending towards other people. Therefore, I don't much care for you and other people like you. I suggest you refrain from commenting on articles unless they're constructive comments.

Tim Cray's picture

Actually, I personally don't care which or how many companies are losing money as long as they offer the lenses and accessories I desire to own. As I've stated several times in this article, I'm not a "fanboy" of any one camera brand. I own Nikon, Sony, Canon, and Panasonic. And the cameras I have all take great photos. In the end, NO camera manufacturer cares about the consumer. They're only interested in a person's money and how much profit they can derive from it. The reason for my aggressiveness is the way you worded a previous comment. Don't take it as a personal affront. But, rather view it as constructive criticism. Thanks for the compliment on my Chihuahua's photo. It was taken with the Panasonic FZ1000. :)

Tim Cray's picture

No, you didn't. It's how you said it that ticked me off. Come off of you pedestal. I stand by my statement. Period. End of discussion.

Ted Mercede's picture

I kinda doubt it, Sony has been working for some time now (since maybe at least early 2000's when I saw a Sony camera w a Zeiss lens) to build their camera's to where they are now. A slow-down in market-trends would probably mean that they just don't keep pumping out iterations of existing models.

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