Olympus financial results for 2012 fiscal year

Started May 17, 2013 | Discussions thread
Eamon Hickey
Veteran MemberPosts: 3,170
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cloudy crystal ball
In reply to Jeff, May 20, 2013

Jeff wrote:

Still, I don't see how the early 2013 numbers spell gloom-and-doom for the mirrorless segment. We'll see soon enough.

I agree; I'm still as sure as I can be that the mirrorless ILC business (and its cousin, the large-sensor, advanced fixed-lens compact business) will continue to grow substantially over the near and mid-term (i.e. next 3, 5, 7 years).

Both Canon and Nikon are projecting continued growth of their DSLR businesses (the recent downturn in Q1 2013 notwithstanding), and I suspect that they are on reasonably solid ground for at least a couple more years, maybe a bit longer. The traditional DSLR seems to be an important aspirational object among the emerging middle class consumers of the so-called BRIC countries. But I think it's pretty clear to most people familiar with consumer camera buying habits that mirrorless ILC cameras sales will grow faster, and slowly replace a substantial chunk of DSLR sales.

It seems pretty clear the P&S segment is being fundamentally reshaped by smartphones.

No doubt.

Do you think the all of the camera makers will still be standing 2-3 years from now?  To your eyes, what attributes would make for a category killer for the mass market? I ask because your opinions are usually so spot on.

Not sure, I guess. I've thought about your questions for a day, and my crystal ball appears to have clouded up.

The ILC market in total has been growing quite amazingly for more than a decade, and it represents the big hope for camera companies because ILC cameras cannot easily be replaced (at this time) by smartphones and nobody else in the world has the expertise to make them. In other words, Apple can kill compact digicams with the iPhone but -- at least right now -- Apple (and Google et. al.) would have a really tough time competing with Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Fuji, Pentax et. al. in the ILC camera market. (Nor would they want to -- the competition, when it comes, will clearly come from Chinese companies.)

I can't think of something that would be a true category killer that seems plausible in the forseeable future. But I agree with what you said in another post in a different forum: in the near-term, the camera companies desperately need to figure out how to get their cameras seamlessly connected to the new eco-systems that we all create around ourselves now (the digital visual environment and the digital social connections we create and constantly interact with). Your post that I'm speaking of was very astute:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/51488762

As far as near-term forseeable fundamental paradigm shifters, the only candidate I can think of right now probably isn't that relevant to mirrorless ILC market developments. It would actually be a piece of software, and likely to come from the artificial intelligence wonks at Google or Apple. If someone can figure out how to make video effortlessly usable as a good source for still images, I think that could remake a fair chunk of the camera business. A company like GoPro could take that brick and build an empire with it. I think Google is probably already a long ways down this road with Google Glasses. But I'm not sure such a thing would affect the mirrorless ILC business in a fundamental way.

But again, overall, nothing particularly original in what my crystal ball is giving me these days

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