Aftermath: Audio Video 2014

In the begining of this year I wrote posting Audio and video trends for 2014 that includes my expectations for this year. As year 2014 ends quite soon, it is a good idea to look back how well those estimations went. I use italics for material from the original Audio and video trends for 2014 posting.

The future of cameras seem to be heading to is smaller, more portable, more disposable and mirrorless (DSLRs have a mirror). Nowadays you can take professional level (“good enough photos”) using consumer level cameras and smart phones. Technical quality is good enough for majority. There is going on a rampant replacement of point and shoot cameras of all flavors and varieties with smart phones and their built in cameras.

Sales of traditional digital cameras have declined due to the increasing use of smartphones for casual photography, which also enable easier manipulation and sharing of photos through the use of apps and web-based services.

The official numbers published by CIPA (the Camera & Imaging Products Association) are out and they tell a story of a struggling photography industry trying to stay afloat in a sea of smartphones.  The camera-equipped smartphone is decimating the market for cameras that can only do what smartphone cameras can already do, so compact cameras are a dying breed – going down from a 108 million units in 2010 to only 29 million in 2014.

Other camera types were also dropped, but not that much. Camera manufacturing/sales (all types) went down in 2014 by 31% (in 2013 we looked at close to a 40% drop). Lenses manufacturing/sales (for DSLR/mirrorless cameras) went down in 2014  by 12%. Market research company IDC’s report on the period describes the period as ‘a bust for camera vendors.’ While the shipment of mirrorless cameras is still well below that of DSLRs, the trends seem to suggest that shipments of mirrorless cameras are on the rise while DSLRs are on the decline. The DSLR is far from dead or dying. Sony, Canon, and Nikon form a triumvirate which dominated roughly 60% of the global camera market last year, according to IDC.

For more details read LensVid Exclusive: What Happened to the Photography Industry in 2014? and Weak Yen masks hard times as Mirrorless and DSLR sales decline.

Traditional physical photography stores business challenged: Besides the increase of competition from online stores such as Amazon and e-bay, the industry as a whole had to face a very steep decline in sales. We have seen several photography stores and chains closing down both in Europe and in the U.S. and this trend will probably continue.

Part of the technical race came to a (maybe temporary) end: “How can I match and exceed the quality of conventional metrics that we used to get from medium format film.” There’s nothing else pressing to solve, technically. Many photographers are fully equipped but uninspired to move forward. We have have set down for “good enough.”

The megapixel count has already been irrelevant for 5 years or more, even on actual digital CAMERAS! Megapixels does not equal quality. Any astute consumer will note that the higher-end cameras by each manufacturer have FEWER megapixels than the entry level models in the series, because less megapixels allows more light to reach each pixel on the sensor.

The challenge will be: How do you bridge that gap between high photo-capture quality and high-quality camera devices and the cloud where every amateur photographer’s images live?

I don’t remeber seeing any definitive answer to this in 2014.

Consumer video device trend is that separate classic video cameras have pretty much faded from market. New smart phones have high definition video cameras in them, so for most users there is no need for separate video camera.

Comsumer video shooting nowadays is pretty much done with mobile phones and DSLR.  Action “action” video cameras and professional video cameras the market had some hope in the market.

Action cameras was a growking segment where GoPro was the dominant market leader and Sony got second  position. An action camera is a HD personal camera used in extreme action photography. It is used in unusual places such as mountains, underwater, air, cars, and army tanks. These cameras are hand-free and can be mounted anywhere on the body. The majority of sales were for consumer applications – distribution of action cameras is uniquely lifestyle-centric generally through independent or small chains. Worldwide demand for action cameras reached almost 5 million units in 2013 – which represented annual growth of 47% – and on track to reach 9 million units in 2018, according to the latest research from Futuresource Consulting. Action camera market is getting increased competition as several mobile manufacturers are aiming to the market on falling smartphone sales (for example HTC and Xiaomi have started to make action cameras).

The global pro camcorder market enjoyed a buoyant first half of 2014 with an overall increase of 5% (7,000 units) from H1 2013 to reach a total of 149,000 units. 4K is Key to Future Growth. For mature markets such as the US, Western Europe are largely saturated, competition from non-traditional acquisition devices is taking its toll and HD and non-tape transitions are all but complete – it is only the very late adopters who have yet to upgrade.

Globally, 91% of pro camcorders shipped in H1 2014 were HD/SD switchable – only 1% were SD only. 4K camcorders accounted for 1% of volumes in H1 2014, but this will grow relatively quickly despite demand for 4K content being extremely minimal outside of high-end production.

Connected TV technologies get more widely used and the content earlier viewable only on TV can be now seen on many other screens. Your smartphone is the screen in your pocket. Your computer is the screen on your desk. Your tablet is a screen for the couch. This development is far from ready.

In sum, connected TVs are on pace to take over the television viewing experience. Smart TVs accounted for the majority of television shipments by 2014. There is a division between open and closed platforms. Despite platform fragmentation, HTML5 offers at least a faint hope for increased unification between connected TVs, just as it does on mobile. There will be more than 759 million televisions connected to the Internet worldwide by 2018, more than double 2013′s number, according to Digital TV Research. 



Video streaming has really become mainstream as Netflix And YouTube Account For Over 50% Of Peak Fixed Network Data In North America. Because of the rise in video services like Netflix and YouTube, peer-to-peer file-sharing has dropped (meaning less piracy of movies and TV series).

Streaming growth continued

Post HDTV resolution era seems to be coming to TVs as well in form of 4K / UltraHD. It was introduced in the 2013, and the manufacturers start to push it more in 204 because all LCD makers are looking to move their business models on from cheap mass production to higher-margin, premium offerings. They try to innovate and secure their future viability by selling fewer, but more profitable displays. On this road giant curved TVs is gaining ground

TV manufacturers pushed 4K to the market actively. Giant curved TVs are seen in shops.

4K resolution ecosystem will get more ready for use. 4K and 4K streaming are definitely coming in 2014 regardless of how many people can actually view it.

4K is going to mainstream. 4K displays are videly available. There is an ever-growing number of DSLR and cinema cameras on the market now that shoot 4K. Even some high-end smart phones can shoot 4K video. 4K video streaming support is available from for example Netflix and YouTube.

Extreme overkill resolution will also push to tablet and smart phone markets. There are already smart phones with full HD resolution. In high-end smartphones we may be moving into the overkill zone with extreme resolution that is higher than you can see on small screen: some makers have already demonstrated displays with twice the performance of 1080-progressive. Samsung is planned to release devices with 4k or UHD resolutions. As we have seen in many high tech gadget markets earlier it is a very short journey to copycat behavior. And we will see also see smart phones that can shoot 4K video.

Also smart phone chips that can handle 4K have been introduced. Smart phones that can shoot 4K video became available in large numbers – There Are Now Over 20 Cell Phones that Shoot 4K Video. It seems that 4K recording is more than just a gimmick – There are actually many advantages to recording in 4K. The simple fact is that Samsung’s Galaxy S5 is poised to become the most popular 4K acquisition device on the planet: its 16MP camera will shoot 3840 x 2160 video at 30fps, using h.265.

One of the recent pop-trends amongst smartphone manufacturers is the strive towards higher resolution screens and higher pixel densities. In the past couple of years, we’ve seen a jump from HD (1280 x 720) to FHD (1920 x 1080), to this year’s QHD (2560 x 1440). We still have to wait when tiny 4K displays end up to smart phone products (that did not happen in 2014). But there were signals like “Sharp reportedly working on a 4K (4096 x 2160) resolution smartphone display panel“. The tech will be ready for mass production some time in 2016 and will be used in 5- to 6-inched displays (a 5.5″ screen, loaded with a 4K resolution will result in a pixel density of 842 PPI). It seems that we are pretty close to get smart phone 4K display in summer 2015.

The market had already shifted from separate MP3 players to the same functionality included to other devices (smart phones and tablets), so sales of music players sales have plummeted in year 2013 as much as as one-third. The future of separate music players looks bleak.

The use of separate players decreased. More and more people use smart phone as their music playback device.

Apple continued to be marker leader in the MP3 players in quickly shrinking market. Apple company moved just 6 million of the trademark MP3 players, a 52 percent decline compared to the same period of 2013. Besides market challenges, there were other challenges: Apple quietly discontinued the iPod classic in September 2014,  just short of the iconic MP3 player’s 13th birthday — it couldn’t get the parts any more. Apple still makes many newer iPod models. While some would probably be happy to claim they ran a slightly-less-than-a-billion-dollar business, it’s getting pretty small for a company the size of Apple.

Smartphones have taken the music player market. The growing popularity of smart phones and music streaming services will rise in the future to eat even music players sales.

A new trend in countries with fast mobile networks is that people do not anymore buy so much music to their devices than eariler because streaming music services like Spotify are becoming more and more popular. Streaming has eaten digital music sales. In Europe, Spotify Royalties Overtake iTunes Earnings By 13%. The tip of the balance to streaming services is a relatively recent phenomenon – In the last two years, streaming revenues tripled.

We’re in a music sales apocolypse while streaming grows, so it’s no surprise Google Music‘s on-demand streaming service subscriber numbers are growing. “We are still in a world where more people are buying music than subscribing. We’re going to be in a world that supports both access and ownership for many years. There is room for both models.”

If smart watch will become a hit, the music player may be lost in exercisers shopping list.

First smart watches were introduced in 2014. None of them became hit. We will have to see if anything on this happens in 2015.

Several smartphone makers have clear strategies to take photography to extremes: 40 megapixel camera is already on the market and several manufacturers are playing with re-focus after shooting options.

The next wave of smartphone cameras aren’t going to focus on the most megapixels — software is what matters now. Nokia Refocus breathes new life into smartphone cameras in 2014: The Nokia Refocus app enables Lytro-style refocusing by taking multiple photos at different focal points and stitching them together in software. The end result is some really cool photos that can only be shared through Nokia’s special web embed service. Nokia’s not the only company working on this software. For example HTC One features always-on “refocus” using two cameras.

Connected TV technologies get more widely used and the content earlier viewable only on TV can be now seen on many other screens. Your smartphone is the screen in your pocket. Your computer is the screen on your desk. Your tablet is a screen for the couch. This development is far from ready. Gartner suggests that now through 2018, a variety of devices, user contexts, and interaction paradigms will make “everything everywhere” strategies unachievable.

New connected televisions enhance the everyday experience of watching by offering a better internet-powered viewing experience for your favorite streamed programs and movies, as well as an alternative way to interact with music and photos. Smart TVs account for the majority of television shipments by 2014. By 2015, more households will have smart TV than connected TVs.

There were lots of good Internet TV products marketed in 2014. Streaming TV set top boxes also sold well. During the first three quarters of 2014, 10 percent of US households with a broadband connection bought at least one streaming-media player ( the players include set-top boxes and sticks).
Roku still tops as sales of streaming-media players rise.
Streaming TV box has shrink to small stick that plugh to HDMI port of TV. Google’s Chromecast stick has been on the market since mid-2013. Amazon jumped into the market in April with its box and again later in 204 with its Fire TV stick. Google’s Chromecast and Amazon’s Fire TV have come on strong.
The rise in streaming devices is due in part to the change in how people watch TV, as well as their interest in accessing the Internet on their TV screens.Nearly 50 percent of video content that U.S. consumers watch on a TV set is non-linear

More people are watching videos on smaller screens as Half of YouTube’s views now come from phones and tablets.

Video streaming has really become mainstream as Netflix And YouTube Account For Over 50% Of Peak Fixed Network Data In North America. Because of the rise in video services like Netflix and YouTube, peer-to-peer file-sharing has dropped.

True. “Nearly 50 percent of video content that U.S. consumers watch on a TV set is non-linear, up from 38 percent in 2010, and it is already the majority for people 18-44,” Barbara Kraus, director of research at Parks Associates, said in a statement.


Things I did not quess to happen in 2014:

Birds found using human musical scales for the first time: Birds Found Using Human Musical Scales For the First Time article tells that researchers have found that flutelike songs of the male hermit thrush employ the same mathematical principles that underlie many Western and non-Western musical scales—the first time this has been seen in any animal outside humans.

OLED has been vaunted as the next-gen display technology for a few years now, with its improved colours and contrast over LCD. But the high cost of manufacture has been a serious problem. Quantum dot (QD) technology also promises to improve the picture quality of LCD, but without requiring the industry to completely overhaul its manufacturing processes and retool. Samsung has said that it intends to focus on UHD TVs using LCD panels augmented by quantum dot technology, instead of pushing OLED as a commercial replacement for LCD. This is the kind of decision that might mean that OLED never takes off in the larger form factors. Chief OLED rival LG said it will continue to pursue the OLED dream. So what is next for OLED? OLED currently has a vibrant future in smaller panels, particularly in smartphones and tablets. 

Microsoft added support for open MKV file format natively on Windows 8.1. The open standard container format has long been used to provide pirated copies of movies and TV shows through BitTorrent or other file sharing sites, but Microsoft’s move to provide native support lends the file format some much-needed legitimacy. Native MKV support in Windows adds another option to share video or audio files without having to download third-party players like VLC.

VINYL is BACK: With renewed interest in pure stereo, stoked ironically by hi-res audio file formats, sales are soaring and manufacturers have been quick to capitalise with a new generation of digital friendly 12-inch disc spinners, aimed at the green fields between audiophile and nostalgia buffUK album sales are on course to top the million mark for the first time since the heyday of Oasis and BlurVinyl Record Pressing Plants Struggle To Keep Up With Demand, but since the increased sales still represent only about 2 percent of US music sales, there hasn’t been a rush of capital investment to open new plants (so there was Kickstarter for vinyl cutter). Does vinyl really sound better? Is that true? Kind of. Sometimes. It depends. Vinyl has lots of limitations, music for it is mastered typically diffently than CD, so it sounds different. Does it sound better or worse depends usuallt on listener preferences. Some engineers say that “There’s basically nothing you can do to make an hour-long album on one record sound good” and “All-analog” doesn’t always happen.



Be the first to post a comment.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *