Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Once again I feel compelled to make a short industry post, despite my disdain for such things.

The camera industry is experiencing a dip. I discussed this here, the reasons are not complex or difficult to understand.

What is interesting about this, to me, at the moment, is this. There are many pundits out there on the webernets who will happily tell you why the dip is there, and what camera companies can do about it. Their answer is always the same:

Camera companies are stupid, and have not been listening to professionals and serious photographers, i.e. to me, and this is the cause of their troubles. If they would only listen to me, or if only they had listened to me back then, they would be fine. The solution, going forward, is for them to listen to me.

This is completely wrong, of course. When you're selling consumer gear, the opinions of professionals and serious amateurs are largely irrelevant. They're not your market. For the last decade, Canon and Nikon have been focused on selling cameras to moms, to people who Just Want Pictures. Sure, they talked to serious photographers and professionals, those people sometimes have ideas and there are products in the lineup aimed at those people. Still, the target was the people who just wanted pictures.

To claim that the camera industry is stupid, and that fill in the pundit is much smarter than the camera company is, is ridiculous and insulting. These companies have been insanely successful, and remain insanely successful, in a tough, competitive market. Of course they didn't execute perfectly, but they executed well enough. They rode the digital wave to something like a five-fold increase in market size in something like 10 years. That's incredible for a market of this size and maturity. That's mind boggling in fact. It's like GM suddenly figuring out how to sell 10 cars to every person on the planet.

The market shift they're seeing now is probably not a shift the major camera companies were capable of following, any more than the buggy whip manufacturers could have started building cars.

In particular, listening to some dolt with a website is not the answer to their problems. The answer is probably figuring out how to capture a larger share of the shrinking market as it adjusts, while downsizing to fit, without destroying the company (or the camera division).

And no, I am not pointing fingers at any one, or any two, pundits. There's a bunch of these people out there, bleating the same silliness.

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