Digital cameras predicted to be the next casualty of smartphones and iPads

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Sales of smartphones in the model of Apple's iPhone have deeply encroached upon single purpose electronics sales ranging from handheld games to music players to GPS units. Digital cameras are expected to fall next.

According to market research firm IHS iSuppli, sales of smartphones and tablets will continue to outpace single purpose devices, and as noted in a report by MarketWatch, "shipments of digital cameras and the like will start to fall."

IHS iSuppli predicts that smartphones will continue to grow at a compounded annual rate of 28.5 percent through 2015. Apple's iPhone has become the top seller among smartphones, and Apple itself has recently become the top manufacturer, edging out Samsung in the latest quarter in the race to steal Nokia's crown.

Smartphones have eaten up sales of everything from standalone music players (Apple's sales of iPods flattened out in the US and have started to decline) to dedicated gaming devices (sending Sony and Nintendo scrambling) to single purpose video cameras (like Cisco's Flip), to basic feature phones themselves.

It's not just general purpose smartphones that are threatening single purpose consumer devices. Tablet systems, which the report acknowledges are "dominated by Apple's iPad," are similarly growing at the expense of other devices, and at an even faster pace than smartphones.

IHS iSuppli predicts that tablets will grow at a compounded annual rate of 72.1 percent until 2015, more than 2.5 times as fast as smartphones.

“The success of multipurpose electronic equipment, often coming at the expense of devices dedicated to a single task, is reshaping the landscape of the consumer electronics industry,” wrote IHS analyst Jordan Selburn.

Selburn said tablets are “truly a jack of all trades — and master of most,” destined to gobble up sales of dedicated e-book readers, music and video players, calendars, alarm clocks, video gaming devices, GPS and consumer digital cameras.

Apple's iPhone 4, which packs a high quality smartphone camera, has already become a top camera among Flickr users and has impressive video editing features that make it a strong competitor to stand alone video capture devices, such as the Flip camera purchased and promoted by Cisco for just a year before it was discontinued as a product.

On the other hand, Apple's tablet devices, ranging from the iPad to the iPod touch, both incorporate much lower quality cameras primarily suitable just for FaceTime video conferencing, making them less of a threat to standalone camera devices.