What do the camera companies need to do to reverse fortunes?

Started Nov 24, 2012 | Discussions thread
caterpillar Veteran Member • Posts: 6,111
Re: I'm not so sure about that


Marty4650 wrote:

caterpillar wrote:

This is the problem even with Nikon or Canon who are great lens makers. Even if you have the money, when you go mirrorless, basically, everyone starts all over again. The field is basically even again. This is why Canon and Nikon are holding as long as they can on their DSLR. But this is another story.

Do Canon and Nikon really have a problem?

Yes, they do.

Both companies have mirrorless cameras, and the MILC segment isn't exactly setting the world on fire right now. All the overly optimistic predictions were wrong. Four or five years into the "MILC revolution" and their market share is still tiny in most places.

Four or five years into DVDs and VHS tapes had virtually disappeared.

Four or five years into the MP3 player, and you couldn't buy a portable cassette player.

Canon and Nikon are very well situated in the highly profitable DSLR market, and this product continues to dominate the high end camera sales. And Olympus, Panasonic, Fuji, and Samsung don't even make a DSLR today. In other words.... they are not even competing in whatever percentage of the market this represents.

Yes, the field is basically level again, but that doesn't mean that the companies who dominated the old market won't eventually dominate the new market. The biggest players still have the marketing clout and like you say "they are great lens makers." They have no shortage of talented engineers and designers.

Just remember one thing.... being first doesn't guarantee that you will become the market leader over time.

  • Apple did not invent the cell phone

True. But Motorola didn't lose money on it either. They did recoup their 17 year R&D drought of U$250-M and maybe earned 10x at least on that.  And Erickson didn't invent the cell phone either, but they are not so hot either.

  • Toyota didn't invent the car

Neither did Volvo or some other car makers. But that does not make them leaders either.

  • Sony didn't invent the video game console

Neither did Atari, and some other game consoles of the past. Again, that does not mean they will make it either.

  • Amazon didn't invent online retailing

Neither does BHPhoto or some other stores. But this does not make them leaders either.

  • Sandisk didn't invent the memory card
  • Google didn't invent the internet search engine
  • Canon didn't invent the camera

And what is the point in these examples? Ericson didn't inent

Market leadership rarely goes to the innovators. It usually goes to those who execute, refine, and market best. And those who did these things best in the past, might be the same ones who will do these things best in the future too.

That's not exactly true. What you see now is the product of innovation. You confuse invention with innovation. Those are 2 different things. It is innovation that got any company where they are now. You are also forgetting that not all first movers are losers. Kodak, Xerox, Motorola, AT&T/Bell, GE were all first movers, and they did quite well for a spell.

What sinks a company is not being the first mover. What sinks them is the lack of innovation and the inability to change and change fast enough because they are protecting too much their golden goose, instead of cannibalizing it and willfully destroying it themselves instead of their competitors.

And we have absolutely no real indication that MILC cameras will ever become a dominate form of camera. Right now, it looks just like another product niche. Like rangefinder cameras, camera phones, or large format cameras.

There are very good indicators. Knowing the critical success factor, and the company behind it almost gives us a good indicator of how the future might turn out to be. It's not a cut and dried thing for different industries need a different read on the variables/factors. But when it comes to MILC, it's almost a done deal. One way or the other, Nikon and Canon will have to play the MILC tune. Their problem is not they can't. They can.  But because they dawdled in the R&D and are trying to stave off the cannibalization of their DSLR, they won't be able to innovate fast enough on certain key factors and they will be followers. Part of that innovation process is coming out with the products even if they are not yet prime time. They delayed their MILCs too long.

Nikon also chose a sensor size format that is not sustainable. The message is clear - they think DSLR still have a 15-20 year lifespan. No rush. That's what Kodak thought of before the turn of 21st century. They thought they had 15-20 years lead time to transition.

And to remind you, based on your own faulty analogy. Canon and Nikon didn't invent the camera either.  Your examples are poor and conveniently ignore the other things in the history of these companies and their innovations.  History is replete with leaders who lost the lead not because they were first movers, but because eventually, they became complacent, arrogant, and tried to hold on to a product/tech line too long instead of eating their own. They failed to practice creative destruction on themselves. When you think about it, they got to be leaders because they did that to their competitors.

It does not matter if one invented the first of whatever it is or not. Even Nokia, who did not invent the cell phone also suffering now because they tried to protect their symbian too much, and didn't consider another way of looking at phones beyond how they defined it in the 1990's. What does a firm in, whether he is the first mover or not is his own lack of appreciation of change and unwillingness to destroy one's product lines once the inflection point is identified and has a clear and definite movement into the future.

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