Ming has another one of his remarkably uninsightful "state of the industry" analyses up, in which he repeats the conventional wisdom that the only that will save Nikon and Canon is if they "innovate more" along with a bunch of other stuff that he may or may not have simply gleaned off of other pundit's blogs. He might as well have, because there's nothing that hasn't been said by the usual suspects, and his synthesis is either missing or ridiculous.
Thom Hogan repeats the same "innovate or die" routine constantly. Michael Reichmann has been known to repeat this now and then, although he apparently is too busy counting his money to write much any more. And then the cry is taken up by the smaller fry, and it is simply obvious as the nose on your face to everyone except the people who are actually in a position to know. The marketing guys at Canon and Nikon actually do this as a full time job and have access to a lot of proprietary information, and have the knowledge, the budget, and the motivation to actually do research rather than just guessing based on what the boneheads at the last PhotoWalkMeetupThing said over beers.
The hardwired telephone has essentially not changed in a while. The last substantive innovation here was DTMF ("touch tone") dialing, which came about starting in 1963, more than 50 years ago. The shape of the box changes, but the device itself works in exactly the same way as it always has. People have, in the last decade or so, started wanting to use telephones in completely different ways, ways that make the hard-wired connection problematic. This has led to the gradual, but inevitable, replacement of the wired phone with various wireless solutions. Note that the wired telephone is being replaced not by a fancier wired telephone with stereo headphones, but by not one but several different products, none of which are anything like a wired telephone.
The gun hasn't changed one goddamned bit in more than 100 years. I don't think anyone has made a serious effort to replace this thing in ages. The "innovations" are designs of the same damn thing reworked so that a blacksmith can make the things out of truck parts with a file. There's a reason the TV show Serenity depicted people in the far future shooting at one another with six-shooters. It's because in 500 years or 1000 years or 10,000 years there's an excellent chance they will be. The gun is the perfect instrument for violently poking holes in things (e.g. people) from a distance.
The point is that there are products which have simply arrived. They are fully optimized. They do a job as well as that job can be done.
Quite frankly, the DSLR is damn near there. The basic SLR body was tuned and tweaked and figured out over a period of many decades, with features introduced cautiously, carefully. Metering. Automatic exposure modes, Autofocus. And then the digital sensor. Each of these went through a bunch of iterations before arriving at a pretty solid solution. You could make an argument that EVF is a the next step to be carefully iterated until it's bang on, and then it becomes the standard and nobody really remembers when DSLR-type cameras didn't have EVFs.
The DSLR, from either Nikon or Canon, is the perfect embodiment of itself. Yes, you can fiddle with this or with that, but my father used to say that the reason a recipe calls for 1/2 a teaspoon of salt is because the author tested it with 1 teaspoon, and with 1/4 teaspoon, and the 1/2 was the right amount. Small changes to a well-tested recipe will invariably make it worse. Similarly, taking the DSLR and tweaking a couple of things with some "innovation" is far more likely to throw the whole balance of the thing off and make it simply worse, than it is to make a better product.
Yes, there will be a small and vocal group who insist that the NoseBall control was the innovation Canon needed to save themselves, but they will be wrong. They will appear to have numbers behind them, but those people are all sock puppets.
The way forward is almost certainly not to screw around with little fiddly bits, to "innovate" around the existing product set. An existing, mature, product like a DSLR is evolved, carefully and in small steps, otherwise you just wind up with a cake that has too much salt in it and tastes kind of gross.
Yes, the DSLR market is contracting as the soccer moms just use their phones. The glory days of the DSLR bubble are wrapping up, and we're reverting to something a lot more like the 1970s.
The wired phone is being replaced by SMS, cell phones, wireless phones, Skype, and a dozen other lesser players. It's probably going to vanish, living on only in the general shape and user experience of the Ethernet-connected telephone which is practically ubiquitous in business environments already. It's too bad, because the very best end-device ever invented for making phone calls was the wired analog telephone. Remember when phone calls just worked, every single time?
So quit looking for Canon or Nikon to "innovate" in the DSLR product line. They're smarter than that. Look at their other product lines.