Avalanche Coming … Too Many Cameras

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I spent my whole career involved in the field of technology when I worked for various Government military research laboratories.  Early on, I enjoyed working with new technologies but eventually I realized that there were many different technologies being pursued that would probably never make it into a weapon system.  They wouldn’t make it not because they weren’t great technological advances, but because of limited opportunities.  Only so many new weapons would make it through the development process due to lack of need and funding to replace the older ones with newer ones.  It was at this point in my career when I got involved in strategic planning.

In strategic planning we tried to match up the likelihood for future war needs with the timing for the development of those technologies with the life cycle of current weapons.  In addition, we tried to match resource availabilities with the needs.  There was never enough funding available to pursue all the new technologies so we had to match the greatest need with political moods and available funding.  Lately I have thought about the similarities of this process with photography.

I think that we have too many different camera manufacturers turning out too many similar products.  They are racing to pile on technology and cost that only moves the capability a smidgen while most of them are losing money.  I am not talking about the fact that point & shoot camera sales are way down since they are being replaced by cell phones.  I am talking about the large number of mirrorless and DSLR cameras.  There are far too many new cameras coming out every six months or so.  Many more than the market can support in the long-term.  Maybe sales are down because consumers are slowly waking up to the fact that they don’t need an evolutionary increase in more technology.  I will not be surprised to see some manufactures drop out of the camera business.

3 comments

  1. ndee9001

    While I see your point here, I think variety and competition can support progress in this case. Imagine there was only one manufacturerer in an area of cameras. I fear, we would still use 12 MP cameras and call them high-end.
    I agree with you, though, it becomes extremely difficult for the customer. To find your own brand. To find your model and also to stick to it and learn to use it to its full potential while being bombarded with upgrades, new versions, special editions and so on. But that’s globalization and the way of capitalism for you. In the same way you don’t really need the newest fridge only because it might save two bucks a year off your electricity bill, why buying a new camera each year?

    From my point of view, there will be a few smaller brands who will disappear into their own niches more than today. I hope, though, companies like Hasselblad will still exist in the future. Even though, I don’t own one, or even dream of owning one in the near future, there are always dreams of being able to afford an extra-expensive piece of hardware to motivate you to safe one or two dollars extra.

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    • John

      Competition is necessary. I am just making the point that someone is going to fall … maybe Panasonic, maybe Nikon, etc. Don’t forget that Kodak fell. The issue is balance in number of companies and revolution in technology vice evolution.

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      • ndee9001

        Very good point. It won’t take much, probably for a company to loose their connection to the top of the challenge. It didn’t take Blackberry very long from being best in class to ‘freeing up’ a few employees. Same for Nokia in Europe.
        Nikon might have too many resources in their R&D field at the moment to be in struggle very soon, but Kodak should be a warning for all, you’re absolutely right!

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