Different strategies – the struggle for the 21st Century

Started Feb 9, 2012 | Discussions thread
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HappyVan
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Different strategies – the struggle for the 21st Century
Feb 9, 2012

Different strategies – the struggle for the 21st Century

With the launch of Fuji Pro, Pentax K-01, Canon G1X and Oly EM5; the industry trends are becoming clearer. The remarkable feature is that each brand is executing a different strategy with regards to their future positioning.

Each brand’s strategy is strengthened or weakened by their past history, and their ambition (or lack of).

Pentax

Struggling to survive the transition to digital, Pentax has only 3% of ILC 2011 sales in Japan. Yet, they have launched two CSC formats (Q and K).

Suggests to me that Pentax DSLR is about to end as the company bets everything in the growth mirrorless industry. The Q format is the super-compact system, while K retains some of the SLR's purposefulness (IQ and lenses).

Problem for K format is that they are following in the footsteps of 43 format, as they attempt to keep their SLR faithful. And, Q has no momentum. Pentax is just hanging on, at a time when they need to lead.

Fujifilm

Struggling to survive the transition to digital, Fuji has experimented with new sensor and AF technology. Finally, they appear to be settling into a niche strategy.

Successful with the premium X100 camera, Fuji is going with premium CSC. Look at the price of their camera and prime lenses! The high prices suggests that Fuji doesn't have the economies of scale for a competitive mass market strategy.

Sony

The digital age has allowed Sony to become a serious player in still photography. Parleying their strength in sensor technology, Sony is now one of the big three (in terms of industry importance) because of their sensor biz and growing NEX brand.

Problem is that they have not deployed their video expertise to the same degree as Pany (GH cameras). Their innovative SLT technology has not paid off. Whilst the expensive A-mount adapter has not made much of a difference to NEX customers.

Instead, their brand is focused on high IQ from large sensors (APSC). However, their NEX lens selection and quality is unremarkable!

Clearly, Sony has tremendous engineering abilities, but is struggling with the vision of where they should be in the future. Very different from Nikon's integrated strategy. Hopefully, the 15 new NEX lenses announced in their latest road map will make a difference.

M43

M43 has had two years as the sole CSC format. In Japan, they represent a sizable chunk of the ILC market. Yet, their global market share is small compared to Canikon's 14 million DSLR.

Pany's larger cameras (G/GH) have had no significant impact. Could the retro-style OMD change that? Will weather seals impress the mass market?

The fundamental problem is that Pany and Oly tried to do things on the cheap. They used components off the shelf which meant that they had no distinctive competitive advantage. NEX has the best IQ and highest resolution. NEX 7 has the best EVF. N1 has PDAF and shooting speed/buffer.

As a result, Oly and Pany are only #4 and #5 ILC brand in Japan. Oly's new 5-axis IBIS looks interesting. Is it too little too late for them? How fast can M43 deploy competitive products at a competitive price into the $500-$800 price points?

Canon

Canon has made the digital transition well. In 2005-8, they looked like they might annihilate Nikon. Since then, Canon has made improvements but not breakthroughs. The only Japanese brand without a MILC competitor.

Yet, the G1X is a significant development. Canon could remain profitable and relevant with premium fixed lens cameras based on a sensor of medium size (M43 size).

Compact cameras outsell DSLRs by 100m to 15m globally. So, Canon could sell a million (or two) fixed lens high IQ cameras. IMO, a viable competitor (based on value) to the $300-$600 CSC competitors (EPL, EPM, GF, G, NEX 3/5 and J1).

Canon isn't dumb. The question is how fast they can roll out the compact cameras with medium sensors?

Next post has the discussion of Nikon's integrated strategy.

Fujifilm FinePix X100 Nikon 1 J1 Pentax K-01 Sony Alpha NEX-7
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