Brutal quarter for Nikon

Started Feb 7, 2013 | Discussions thread
Doug Pardee
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Re: What I don't understand
In reply to Darrell Spreen, Feb 14, 2013

I don't really know much about the historical economics of camera manufacturers. But I can always take an uneducated guess...

Darrell Spreen wrote:

Back in the days of SLRs, there were many more (and some pretty obscure) manufacturers -- without even thinking about it, I remember names like Mamiya, Miranda, Petri, Cosina, Konica, Exacta, etc. etc. besides those that are still in business. They seemed to stay viable for quite a few years in most cases. Camera models didn't change for several years at a time. Many companies also produced compact zoom cameras that also sold quite well.

My guess is that the various camera manufacturers, big and small, were properly "sized" for the number of units they were shipping. For the smaller ones, it might've been maybe one small factory with a few people on the assembly line, I dunno.

Certainly the annual sales numbers were tiny by today's standards — probably thousands in most cases, compared with millions today. CIPA (the Japanese camera manufacturer consortium) reported that in 2011, their members shipped almost 16 million interchangeable-lens cameras and 26 million lenses. And about 100 million digicams.

Canon's production rate has jumped from 200 thousand per year for the FD film SLRs, to a million per year for the EOS film SLRs, to 10 million per year for DSLRs.

While some of that growth is probably due to the increasing popularity of SLR photography with the advent of autofocus and then of digital, that hardly can account for all of the increase in unit sales. I postulate that the push for existing owners to upgrade every couple of years is a large part of it.

If/when that "upgrade fever" subsides, it's going to get tough.

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