Where is the industry heading - some thoughts.

Started Mar 31, 2014 | Discussions thread
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GeraldW OP
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Re: Where is the industry heading - some thoughts.
In reply to TrapperJohn, Apr 3, 2014

TrapperJohn wrote:

Tablet and especially smartphone have pretty much taken over the quick snapshot market. Not just having them with you always and not bad quality, but the ability to post to social media instantly make them the best solution for the casual snapshotter.

Good news: a lot of people are grabbing shots, who wouldn't normally have done so. The smartphone and social media are getting a lot more people into photography, and some of them are starting to want something better than what the smartphone can deliver. The future for high end photo gear actually looks pretty good, considering how many new customers are being introduced to the market. It will just take some time for that to translate into sales.

Curious omission: none of the major photo players have become involved in the smartphone camera market. I would tend to think that a company that needs to diversify (Nikon) or a company that specializes in small and precise (Olympus) could develop a serious mini camera system that would fit in a smartphone.

The industry players...

Nikon needs to diversify, soon. They have a well respected name and they have the optical skills, but do they have the will and the funding to diversify?

Canon and Ricoh are heavily invested in electrostatic printing: copiers and laser printers, and that's a declining market. Canon is more diversified than Ricoh, but both need to change direction.

Leica and Zeiss make industrial imaging and measuring equipment, heavily used in manufacturing. The more complex manufacturing becomes, the better they will do.

Olympus pretty much owns medical imaging and endoscopes for minimal invasive surgery. If they can escape the currency market disaster of ten years ago, and it looks like they're slowly getting out of that, they should do well.

Sony and Panasonic are in the same boat. Both are losing much of their consumer market to the Korean manufacturers, but both also have a presence in industrial equipment. Both Sony and Panasonic appear to be investing heavily in mirrorless: A7, A6000, GM1, GH4. Sony needs to stop making junk for consumer products, and remember what the Sony name stands for: quality.

Leica, Zeiss, and Olympus use camera developed tech in their real money makers, with the fast product cycles in the camera market boosting the slow product cycles in industrial and medical markets. Their camera products don't necessarily have to show the same sort of P&L that the other players need to meet.

Mirrorless vs DSLR... been hashed to death, but... the sheer number of high grade DSLR lenses already in use, and the sheer numbers of people who own DSLR lens collections, will insure a thriving DSLR market for some time.

In emerging markets, where there is no large base of existing owners with lens collections, mirrorless is selling very well.  It's very competitive, once the existing owner base is taken out of the equation.

One other major change that needs to occur: If you look at the last ten years, you find that the two DSLR market leaders haven't really done much innovating. The majority of DSLR advancements, beyond just increasing MP and ISO, have come from the niche players. Almost all of those innovators have abandoned the DSLR market for mirrorless, where many of the new innovations aren't applicable to the DSLR design. Canon and Nikon will have to change their conservative approach and become much more agile. Their primary source of new ideas has now become their competitor.

Another really good post.  A lot of nice insights here.  Of course, I do have a few comments.  Some years ago, when i set up a coupld of engineering model shops for the company, our Bridgeport mivertical mills were equipped with Sony digital readouts for X & Y Axis.  And in the office, a Nikon measuring microscope.

I hear your argument that technology at Olympus has flowed from the camera business into the medical.  That has been going on for quite some time, and I'd hazard a guess that the medical folks are now moving ahead on their own and no longer reliant on the photo side.  It always worked that way in companies I worked for.

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