October 11, 2009

Tapeless takes over

For the first time, sales of non-tape cameras have taken a majority of camcorder sales in the European professional and broadcast market with sensors of 1/3-inch or larger. They already dominate sales of consumer camcorders.

The latest figures, for the quarter from April to June 2009, reveal that 50.84% of sales from all manufactures selling in the EU went to tapeless systems. This included 7.29% of hybrid camcorders that can record tape and tapeless (although sales of such cameras have declined since last year when they reached a peak of 24.23% of the market). Sales of fully tapeless systems have trebled over the same period, according to figures from Futuresource Consulting.

Panasonic appears to have been the biggest winner from this. Its HPX301 camcorder, introduced at Broadcast Video Expo 2009 (see our video here), has taken one third of the market for tapeless shoulder-mounted, 1/3-inch or 1/2-inch sensors under Eur10,000, in just one quarter. Panasonic already has an 85% share of broadcasters that have gone tapeless (using its P2 format – mainly for news).

"Everybody in the industry knows that solid state is the future. There is no question about it," said Jaume Rey, its Director, Provideo & Broadcast IT Systems, Europe (pictured).

He believes that the rapid change in broadcaster's purchase requirement is largely due to the recession. "People are very careful about spending money and are worried that if they don't buy solid state they will be left behind. Because access to finance is so hard, investments must last longer. So, what's the point in choosing a tape-based format when I know tape is declining?"

He talked to a broadcaster last year that had just invested in a lot of SD camcorders, who justified the purchase by the fact that they would be replaced in three years, now he doubts that any CFO would allow such a short term choice.

Hybrid systems may have seemed a good interim measure, but he believes that their decline is because broadcasters no longer want to "stay on a bridge. They either stay tape or go tapeless."

By going tapeless he maintains that broadcasters will benefit not only from a faster, more efficient workflow, but also help the environment through lower power consumption.

Ultimately, at least for news, he believes that the future is medialess, with wireless connections from the camcorder to the station and any media just being used for a backup in the camcorder.

David Fox

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