Fujifilm is enjoying huge success with its retro-styled Instax mini camera, a compact design that gives you a print in hand within seconds of taking the shot. Most of the currently available Instax cameras cost between $60 and $150, with a pack of film (20 exposures) costing around $15.
The Japanese firm estimates it sold 5 million of its instant cameras in the fiscal year ending March 31, nearly four times the 1.4 million digital alternatives it estimates it sold during the same period.
The solid sales come as the digital camera market struggles to get back into gear, with sales in 2015 falling by almost 20 percent on a year earlier, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Fujifilm released its first Instax device in 1998, long before digital cameras made their mark and way before the rise of smartphones and photo-sharing apps like Instagram. Similar to Polaroid instant cameras, users enjoyed the fun of having a physical print to show off within seconds of taking the shot, while the stylish designs also helped to attract interest.
Sales of Instax cameras rose each year, hitting a million in 2002. However, in 2004, as digital cameras started grabbing consumers’ attention, Fujifilm only managed 100,000 Instax shipments.
With consumers attracted first by digital cameras and then, from 2007, by smartphones offering increasingly sophisticated camera technology, interest in “old” film technology waned.
For several years, Fujifilm largely ignored its Instax business, instead attempting to revive its fortunes by launching its high-end X-series mirrorless digital cameras as well as moves into other businesses.
Then around four years ago Fujifilm detected renewed interest in analog technology, a development that saw sales of its Instax cameras begin to rise again.
Fujifilm currently offers eight different Instax cameras, and new designs attempt to follow trends by offering features such as a “smart selfie” mode that automatically adjusts settings to ensure the perfect self-portrait.
The camera has certainly turned into a decent earner for Fujifilm, an impressive turnaround from a few years ago when it was on the verge of ditching the format altogether. Over the next 12 months it forecasts sales of 6.5 million units.
Today, the U.S. and Asia each accounts for about 30 percent of Fujifilm’s Instax market, while a further 15 percent of sales come from Europe. With Instax’s popularity still on the rise, we can expect more new devices in the not-too-distant future.