Marketwatch

The Digital Camera End-User Study by InfoTrends Research Group Inc. (Boston, MA) reveals that 13% of respondents have returned a digital camera at least once, with more than 33% declaring "poor image quality" as the reason. About 25% of the respondents said the camera "was not worth the money," and another 25% "returned the camera for a better model." Operating and software problems accounted for 18% of returns, and 10% of users found their camera hard to use. User complaints were most common fo

Marketwatch

GEORGE KOTELLY EXECUTIVE EDITOR

georgek@pennwell.com

The Digital Camera End-User Study by InfoTrends Research Group Inc. (Boston, MA) reveals that 13% of respondents have returned a digital camera at least once, with more than 33% declaring "poor image quality" as the reason. About 25% of the respondents said the camera "was not worth the money," and another 25% "returned the camera for a better model." Operating and software problems accounted for 18% of returns, and 10% of users found their camera hard to use. User complaints were most common for low-end models.

During their purchase decision, users emphasized the camera`s price, liquid-crystal display, and resolution. Afterward, they emphasized rechargeable batteries, ac adapter, and image quality. About one-third of the buyers are using digital cameras for personal activities, another third for business applications, and a third for both uses, including the Internet and e-mail. Fortunately, the study says, digital-camera return rates are declining, 94% of digital camera users are recommending their use, and vendors are focusing on improving functional operation and image quality.

According to the Flat-Panel Monitor Market Trends 1998 report from Stanford Resources Inc. (San Jose, CA), the FPD market is expected to accelerate starting in 1999 and reach a shipment value of $4 billion in the year 2000. The report covers thin-film-transistor liquid-crystal-display (LCD) and super-twisted-neumatic LCD technologies and companies, screen size, pixel format, and growth data through 2004. . . . The North American semiconductor-equipment industry posted a book-to-bill ratio of 0.92 for February 1998, as reported by Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI; Mountain View, CA). The 0.92 number means that $92 in semiconductor orders was received for every $100 of products shipped. Three-month average shipments decreased in February 1998 to $1.4 billion, which is 38% above the February 1997 level. . . . The North American robotics industry had its best year ever in 1997, according to statistics released by the Robotic Industries Association (RIA; Ann Arbor, MI). A total of 12,459 robots were shipped last year, an increase of 28% over 1996 shipments, at a value of nearly $1.1 billion. Robotic shipments have risen dramatically during the past five years, surging 172% in units and 136% in dollars since 1992. A total of 12,149 robots valued at $1.1 billion were ordered in 1997, an increase of just 1% over last year. However, orders are up 131% in units and 122% in dollars during the past five years. . . . In-Stat (Scottsdale, AZ) expects the shipments of digital still cameras to rise to $6 billion and associated semiconductor products to pass $1 billion, both by 2002. According to the company`s market research report, Digital Still Cameras: Markets & Technologies, digital-still-camera shipments in 1997 more than doubled those in 1996. In addition, the significant price reductions of 30% per year will accelerate, while digital image resolutions will soar to new levels.

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