New Canon executive interview

Started Sep 10, 2007 | Discussions thread
Anastigmat Forum Pro • Posts: 12,686
Re: Trends

dnjake wrote:

I would divide the history of the DSLR market at this point into
three periods starting with the introduction of the D30.

During the first period it looked like Canon owned the market and
might wind up dominating it the way Microsoft dominates PC operating
systems. Canon's products seemed superior on both basic technology
and features. Nikon was very slow to introduce new products and
their big attempt at technical innovation produced the badly flawed
D2H. Everyone else was close to invisible.

Period two started with the introduction of the Nikon D2x.

Disagree. Period two started with the introduction of the Digital Rebel, which is a firmware crippled EOS 10D with a plastic body selling for the magical price point of less than $1,000. All of a sudden, the DSLR became affordable to the masses, not just the professional. What followed was the Nikon D70, Nikon's quick and very well done answer to the Canon Digital Rebel. THe D70, although flawed in many ways, was arguably better than the Digital Rebel, and with this single camera, Nikon turned its fortune around. Before the D70, Canon had a whopping 80% market share in DSLR cameras. After the D70 was introduced, Nikon quickly took the lead in market share. What a turn around. Canon eventually regained the lead with the 8mp Digital Rebel XT, followed later by the 10mp Rebel XTi, but Nikon has recovered enough financially to undergo development of the D2X, D200 and now the D3 and D300. Without the D70, Nikon may not have been able to bring any camera like the D3 to market.

became much more aggressive in introducing new products.
Particularly during the last couple of years, they succeeded in
improving their position with Canon by bringing more features down to
lower priced cameras. This trend was reinforced some by the minor
players gaining some more share of the market through offering more
in low priced cameras. However, during this period Canon retained
the aura of technical leadership through the preceived superiority of
their sensors on low noise and through their delivery of full frame

Canon sensors had a real lead in low noise, not a perceived lead. Canon got there with nothing magical, just sensors that have large individual pixels.

We now look to be entering a third period where Canon may have to
struggle just to stay even on technology.

Not really. Canon still has the lead. The Canon 1D MKIII has been surpassed by the full frame D3, but there is no reason why Canon cannot replace it with a full frame DSLR that can do nine frames per second. Of course, pride may prevent it from doing it right away.

Even during period two,
Sony actually did reasonably well at catching up with Canon on sensor
quality. But they still looked to be a little behind and they did
not deliver full frame. It remains to be seen exactly where we are
now. But it could easily turn out that Sony's new crop sensors are
better than anything Canon can deliver in full frame. While Canon
may be able to respond. It would not be that surprising to see Sony
take over technical leadership in the long term. Realistically Sony
is the stronger of the two in analolg electronics and one of the
strongest in the world in that technology.

Canon has the advantage in noise reduction technology. It has many patents that Sony have no access to. These patents will enable Canon to keep the lead in technology, allowing it to have sensors that are less noisy than comparable Sony sensors.

The interview sounds like the executive is still coming to terms with
the challenges of period two. It seems to me that Canon got used to
the illusion that they owned the market and have been slow to realize
that they have to compete more strongly with more features in lower
priced cameras.

Canon was alone in the lead, so it can be excused if it got a bit complacent. Now that Nikon has fired off the D3 and Sony has introduced a 12mp APS-C camera for the serious amateur, I expect Canon to release a 12mp APS-C camera of its own and possibly update the 1D MKIII with a full frame model.

But if they loose preceived technical leadership it
will be a much bigger impact. I doubt that their executives have
begun to understand that yet.
David Jacobson

Canon's technical advantage is not perceived. It is real. Since Canon had no competition, it became complacent. The 30D was universally criticized for being a non-upgrade, and the 1D MKIII, wonderful though it may be, has fallen behind the D3 already because Canon did not update the sensor with a full frame model. Canon has shown with models like the Digital Rebel XTi that it can move quickly in response to competition if necessary. And the Digital Rebel XTi has pretty much beaten back the Sony A100's challenge, regaining Canon the top spot in DSLR camera sales. It will need to counter the D3 and A700, and I think it will.

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