Camera industry - from 9 to 4 players?

Started May 16, 2014 | Discussions thread
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fedway Contributing Member • Posts: 548
Camera industry - from 9 to 4 players?

Olympus, Panasonic, Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax/Ricoh, Fuji, Sigma, Samsung: that's 9 camera manufacturers fighting for market share in a shrinking camera market. That's too many.

Smartphones will continue eating up the P&S market. The only viable segments left in P&S are super zooms and rugged. Smartphones are also becoming increasingly "ruggedized'. Phone companies are pouring money into digital zoom R&D, and it won't be long before digital zoom is as good as optical zoom. So the P&S market will go up in smoke in the next 5 years. Which will leave 9 companies fighting for the enthusiast and pro camera markets. That's too many to be viable.

Samsung will be left standing even though it is no. 9 in the eyes of many enthusiasts because it is so huge and so successful in smartphones, it probably has as much resources as the entire Japanese camera industry combined. And it is in pole position when the younger generation who become more serious about photography decide to step up from smartphones due to its brand in that market.

Sony will be left standing primarily because they supply half the camera sensors for the smartphone industry. Canon and Nikon will be left because of the pro market; DSLRs will always be around and it will be relatively easy for them to turn around and market high performance, big sensor mirrorless when the time comes. They have the technology, they are just waiting for the right timing. Both will have to shrink quite a bit because their cost structures are still dependent on a disappearing P&S market. Sigma will be left because they are a niche player just like Leica, and they don't have that P&S cost structure.

The rest won't make it, unless in very much smaller niche market versions focused on the enthusiast. Yet they are still introducing new super zoom and rugged P&S into the market like crazy. How many super zooms does Fuji have?

Olympus might be lucky because they are in the worst financial position in the industry so the incentive to downsize, specialize and focus right now might be most glaringly obvious. But of course it depends on management to make the difficult changes. Olympus is still putting money into P&S. That is a waste. The E-m1 is going in the right direction because it starts tapping into the pro market while Canikon hesitate. So in terms of marketing trying to get into Best Buy and other big box stores is the wrong strategy. They have to focus their marketing on the enthusiast market, not on the casual snapshot market. The PENS might even be a waste unless having a fashion market model is viable but then it is more marketing dollars for a different segment. Oly might not be able to afford it.

If Olympus, Panasonic, Fuji and Pentax do not drastically cut down their cost structures and focus, their most likely fate is to sell their brand and IP to upcoming Korean (LG?), Chinese and Indian companies who will have the money to take advantage of opportunities in emerging markets as some smartphones users become more interested in the photography hobby and buy "real" cameras.

Olympus E-M1
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