CCD shortage to hamper Christmas rush

The digital camera market is preparing for the worst charge coupled device (CCD) shortage ever as the Christmas shopping season nears and demand for digital cameras soars.

Ever-shrinking product lifecycles, record demand for digital still cameras (DSCs) and demand for mobile camera phones and other portable consumer applications have led to a dearth of CCDs and memory cards.

The CCD shortage will affect the availability of all types of digital cameras. Flash memory cards such as Secure Digital cards will also be scarce.

Distributors that have conducted demand forecasts are less likely to be affected by any shortages over Q4.

Several digital camera vendors strongly encourage their distributors to conduct forecasts and, in the event of a shortage, those distributors will be given preference when surplus stock is allocated.

General manager of Sydney-based distributor Global Business Technology, Gordon Taylor, distributes Sony digital cameras and conducts three-month forecasting for the vendor.

“We don’t expect the shortages will affect us because we’ve conducted demand forecasts – this strengthens our position when it comes to stock allocation," he said.

“Forecasting is a pain, but it is a necessary evil. If you don’t do it, you lose."

Most vendors conduct three-month forecasts, but HP market development manager for emerging products, John Gowland, said they needed to conduct one-month forecasts to avoid getting caught out.

Gowland said the memory card shortage would not affect HP’s channel partners as HP’s cameras were compatible with eight different types of cards. Other major brands were only compatible with Compact Flash and Secure Digital media cards.

Digital cameras sales are expected to reach an all-time record this year and the same is expected this Christmas.

“I am expecting this Christmas to be twice as big as last year -- 200 per cent greater,” Sony Australia’s digital imaging product manager, Ben Smith, said.

“I believe there will be more than 250,000 cameras sold into the market this November and December. The IT channel will make up about 10-15 per cent of those sales.”

Industry pundits agree that the sweetspot for digital cameras this Christmas is between $400 and $700 and that mid-range digital camera sales will exceed entry-level camera sales this Christmas.