With the entry into force of the blocks of Covid-19 worldwide, millions of people have turned to remote work and the organization of virtual gatherings with friends.
During the night, webcams went from mundane computer accessories to gold dust.
Even now, the rise in initial demand in March has just decreased, with producers struggling to satisfy the many consumers who try to buy.
And while some consumers have been successful, there is much evidence that many others are still looking in vain.
‘Chasing the question’
Smartphones, tablets and laptops are generally equipped with integrated cameras.
But many users prefer dedicated devices that can offer higher video resolution or be easier to position using, for example, a tripod.
Logitech has started shipping its webcams by air rather than by sea, to reach retailers as quickly as possible.
“We are still chasing the question at this point,” says a spokesman.
“Production is at full throttle.
“Going forward, the offer may remain limited but we expect it to improve.”
CEO Bracken Darrell told CNBC that the company “was working like crazy” to meet demand.
And he expected another increase in sales from students returning to university practically in the fall.
In the UK, Amazon, Curry’s and Argos all have some webcam models available for sale.
But many – including the most popular products made by companies like Logitech, Microsoft and Razer – are regularly listed as out of stock.
“I’ve been trying to find one for my mom for months,” says software designer Matt Obee in the UK.
“He wanted to join his normal home business.”
In particular, virtual church and Pilates.
“I only found a few with stupidly inflated prices or unrecognizable brands,” he says.
Search for months
And when a friend bought Mr. Obee’s mother a webcam with a brand she didn’t know, it seemed to be causing software problems on her computer and Zoom kept crashing.
In the end, he managed to buy one from Curry – a little more expensive than the model he was planning to buy, but it worked as expected.
“I didn’t expect that we would have to spend months searching,” he adds.
In California, cosplayer and streamer Monika Lee already has two webcams, but she would like a third to cook demonstrations from her kitchen.
“It’s more important than ever to get in touch with people,” he says.
His need for the camera is “pretty frivolous,” he says.
But she is not satisfied with the quality of the integrated laptop camera she is using.
And while the specific webcam model you want is available again on Amazon, its price has increased.
Similar frustrations were faced by the stream-game Casey Thornton, in the United States, which follows the pseudonym of D3ityCthulhu.
The pandemic took the webcam market by surprise and it’s understandable that manufacturers have struggled to keep up, says Stuart Miles, publisher of the Pocket-lint.com gadget news site.
“It was an industry that was just going on, nobody was so excited about it,” he says.
“Suddenly, through the blockade, we were forced to make Zoom calls and quizzes and try to stay connected by working from home.”
Some camera companies offer software updates, he says.
For example, this week Nikon released an update that allows users to turn their single-lens reflex digital cameras (DSLRs) into improvised webcams.
“You may see further innovations in lighting or [companies] selling lights to wrap the laptop screen to offer a better lighting experience, “adds Miles.