Thom Hogan: Products fighting each other: OK


No longer a newbie, moving up!
May 24, 2012
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Oh the irony.

I'm a programmer.

I avoid Apple products like the plague exactly because they treat the customer like an idiot that cannot be trusted with taking control of the computer.

Well, thats still true. However:

Thom Hogan: Products of the same company might fight each other, thats cool.
Sunday’s episode of 60 Minutes contained this interchange regarding product management at Apple:

Charlie Rose: Is there danger of one product cannibalizing the other product?

Phil Schiller: It's not a danger, it's almost by design. You need each of these products to try to fight for their space, their time with you. The iPhone has to become so great that you don't know why you want an iPad. The iPad has to be so great that you don't know why you why you want a notebook. The notebook has to be so great, you don't know why you want a desktop. Each one's job is to compete with the other ones.
Hu !

Looking at Canon EOS-M and even worse Nikon 1 - thats definitely not something Nikon or Canon would agree with.

Consider Nikon’s product line of cameras: Coolpix, Nikon 1, DX DSLR, FX DSLR. Nikon carefully does the opposite of Apple: Nikon targets different customers for these devices and then carefully makes sure that the products don’t compete with each other. Really? Isn’t a camera a camera? Wouldn’t I want whatever camera I pick from Nikon to be as good as it can be? Why is it that Coolpix have one design style and feature set, but the Nikon 1 another? Why must I study the manual in detail every time I cross lines in Nikon’s products? Why does Product A feel completely different than Product B, C, D, E, and F? Why is the Nikon 1 the only product with Motion Snapshot if Motion Snapshot is a camera feature that customers might want? Talk about restricted targeting and keeping your products from competing with one another.
Consider especially that only the D5x00 line has a fully articulated screen (excluding the original D5000 which has kind of more a monitor like the D750). And that only the D7x00, D6x0 and the D750 have U1, U2 modes.

I absolutely love the one handed operation of the D5x00 line, and the ability to TURN THE MONITOR AROUND to protect it (and make sure it NEVER ACTIVATES which my D750 does every single time I want to change ISO). So why cant I get the same in a full frame camera ?!?

Canon does this a bit better, since you get the equivalent of the U modes in the 5D line.

Simple: it’s because Nikon first identifies a target customer and then pens them into very narrow and extremely arbitrary product definitions. They don’t design to customer problem solving (not even sure they talk to the customers they target), they design to what they think is a “different" customer, which isn’t the same thing. The customer doesn’t get to decide where they are in the mix of products because of this, and the customer better be careful that they don’t miss when deciding which category is right for them, as important things are missing in some of the categories (I’m looking at you, Nikon 1! And lenses in DX).
Well, it worked for them with me. If the D5100 would have a more reasonable feature set and more lens choices, I might still be a happy D5100 user ... so Nikon convinced me to go for FX.

Meanwhile, there’s that “great” part of Schiller’s quote. Are Coolpix truly “great”? Great enough that you might not need a Nikon 1?
Well ... actually the Coolpix A is in many respects superior to the Nikon One system.

Moreover, there’s the ecosystem thing. For Apple, this has worked marvelously: because I have an iPhone I’m not likely to buy an Android tablet if I also need a tablet, nor a Windows PC if I need a computer.
... not ? Well as I said before - I wouldnt touch a Mac PC with a long stick. Okay, thats not true. I might actually buy a Mac for the hardware (like the 5K screens) and install Windows on it (and/or Linux, depending upon what I want to do with that computer).

We’re a couple of days away from Christmas, and deep into the biggest buying season for cameras. Let’s say you need a great new camera. Does Nikon make one for you? Sure, if you’re in the market for something like a D810, maybe a D7200. Looking for a shirt pocket camera? Sorry, look elsewhere. Looking for an all-in-one compact type camera. Sorry look elsewhere, though if you don’t mind shooting JPEGs, maybe try the P900. Looking for a small interchangeable lens camera? Well, Nikon has one, but is it great? Indeed, is it as great as other choices?
The winner for me is the D750. The D810 is okay for what it does, too, but the D750 offers me features I need more urgently and is the better generalist camera.

I have no clue why the D7200 would be such a great camera. The D7000 was a great all around camera. The D7100 added a better AF, but lacked fps and buffer for making a good camera for sports. The D7200 now fixed the buffer, but still doesnt have the fps. So even ignoring the issues with build etc, the D7200 is still no replacement for the D300s as a DX sports camera. So - why is the D7200 so great ? Its just the current crutch Nikon offers for wildlife shooters, really. Maybe the D7300 will be complete in that respect ? Or the D300sx/D310/D350/D400/D9000/D9300/whatever, if that ever comes.
Somehow I forgot my conclusion.

I'm just not holding my breath when it comes to Nikon or Canon making mirrorless systems that can compete with their DSLRs.

As much as I dont like them - Apple shows how to dominate a market successfully.
Solar, I fell much as you do. I stopped holding my breath a while back in regards to Canikon producing a competitive mirrorless system. My view has always been they fully understand that to properly exploit such a camera a new line of lenses will be required. And neither one of those giants want to in any way give up their lens dominance and start over. I think this is why they are hemming and hawing and have been resting on their laurels. But Sony (and Fuji, and the others) are selling cameras. Sony continues to just knock it out of the park by pushing innovation, making improvements and bringing those quickly to market. Canon and Nikon have been reluctant to, as you say, sell a camera that will steal their own DSLR sales. But its far better for a company to loose a sale to its own competing product then to loose that sale to a competitor. And if Canon and Nikon shooters currently want a full frame mirrorless the only thing these companies can sell those customers is a Sony camera. That is never a good position to be in. Ask Kodak. Or IBM. Or Blackberry. Or Polaroid. Or any number of other companies that ruled the roost and thought they were unassailable.
Mirrorless cameras are the flying cars of the 1950's and 1960's..."Soon every house will have a flying car! No more traffic accidents on crowded freeways!" Soooooooooo much excitment and hype about flying cars and how they will soon take over the car wait, I mean how they'll soon take over the camera business, by totally replacing what we've had since the 1950' eye-level, single lens reflex type of camera in more or less the same size and the same shape as the Nikon F!

Mirrorless sales are small. Canon and Nikon are numbers one and two in the overall small camera business, and have been for decades in a row. The camera branches of Olympus, FujiFilm, and Panasonic are basically hobby businesses, and sell incredibly few units per year compared to what Canon and Nikon sell. It's astounding to me that Nikon, which has been producing 35mm-type cameras since 1948 (and in business since what was it? 1919?) has been able to stay in business without Thom Hogan's management genius. I mean how the hell does the world's second-leading camera maker find it possible to stay in business making small, compact still cameras for 67 years without Hogan's brilliant insights and his vast experience at running a big company? How is it that he's not an executive VP there, or even a division head?
Derrel, to be honest the flying car analogy is flawed is quite a few ways. Flying cars were never brought to mass market and your comparing a machine for transportation against an artistic tool. As I said in another post is isn't about MC's taking over DSLR's. Its more about Canon and Nikon not responding quickly to market changes due to A) having a completely moribund attitude that they are unassailable in the market place and B) believing its business as usual and they only have each other to compete with so a laid back innovation/release cycle is perfectly acceptable these days. Which its not. No greater example of this can be given other then Nikon reliance on Sony to provide a dangerous number of its sensors. You know, the very digital sensor that makes a DSLR a DSLR. I'm sorry, but if digital cameras are your bread and butter and you haven't made the business decisions to ensure your dominance in the most critical component of said product then mistakes were made along the way. Sony is dominating the sensor market now and all signs point to them continuing to do so for many years to come. I truly hope that the recent rumors concerning Nikon and Samsung involve a partnership between the two where they join forces in the camera world to play to each of their strengths. Nikon bodies and lenses with Samsungs sensors and EVF tech.

If you listen to podcasts and read articles on the web and watch video reviews you can see that there are indeed many people either swapping to mirrorless from other kinds of cameras or adding mirrorless to their existing gear. This includes enthusiasts and professionals. There are many people who want either the benefit of a smaller, lighter kit or simply the benefits that an EVF brings. Canon and Nikon, as serious photographic entities, should be designing a product to fill this exciting new market segment which has the potential to become a major part of future revenue. I know I will never buy another DSLR for my photography. My options now are Sony and Fuji for what I shoot. I really wish Canon was on that list but they obvious don't think they need to make a product for a photographer like me. But its not just me....there are many shooters out there who have made the switch and wont go back. Its really quite simple....successful businesses don't ignore market trends or potential customers.
Canon and Nikon do not "need" to justify the products that hobby marketers like Panasonic, FujiFIlm, and Olympus have made with their tiny,tiny, tiny slices of the camera selling "pie"....ergo, the flying car analogy is dead on: a niche development can gather huge press, and die, never realizing all the hype that excited content providers spew forth. Podcast hosts are few and far between...families buying digital Rebels and Nikon D3200's number in the millions and millions and millions, world-over.

Mirrorless cameras are still a drop in the bucket sales-wise in the serious camera market segment, which is where Canon and Nikon both sell nearly identical products with huge systems that have established their lens mounts since 1959 for Nikon, and since 1987 for the Canon EF mount. Olympus and Panasonic's camera divisions are money-LOSERS for their corporate parents. I expect the same is true for FujiFilm's camera division. Nikon and Canon OTOH, dominate the industry...and have huge customer bases and huge (70 to 90 million) legacy lenses in use, right now, today.

The "many people" switching to mirrorless, talking about it on podcasts, are not BUYING many cameras though. Look into the sales figures. What hipsters and dilettantes do is of little concern to Canon and Nikon; they have huuuuuuuuuge, decades-long leads in their industry...the mirrorless marketers like Oly, Panny, Sony, and Fuji have no such leads, and so the strategies divide along the lines of one strategy for the massive leaders, and a different strategy for the few companies whose products sell at from 3/4 of 1 percent to as much as perhaps 12 percent (Sony) of the cameras in the world every year.

Podcasts are GREAT! But...Canon and Nikon are actually in the camera business...and leading it, by huge, double-digit margins.

You seem to think that the leaders ought to employ the same strategies as the companies with the teeny-tiny market shares.Doesn't work that way.

BMW is not after the same customers as Kia is.

McDonald's is not after the same customers as my local $100-per-diner, reservations-only restaurant that has 12 tables. What the companies desperately trying to break in to a market do is of little concern to the established leaders over time, and across segments, and across decades. So...there's no incentive for Canon or Nikon to validate what the newbies in the business are trying to do; Nikon and Canon are not after podcast pieces, or excited Facebook posts, but they want to sell cameras. And the fact is, mirrorless sales are weak, so Canon and Nikon have little incentive to enter the market. But rest assured,,,if they DO, they will handily crush the hobby businesss camera and lens makers, easily.
Oh, rats! Only after I posted did I see that this thread is in the Mirrorless sub-forum. I read the forum via Active Topics, and seldom look at the sub-forum that posts are in. Solarflare's OP and Hogan's article were both kind of...scattershot..all over the place...

I apologize for not paying attention to where the OP was posted. Mirrorless cameras are fantastic! Thom Hogan ought to be brought in as Chief Strategist and Head of R&D, Head of Marketing, and Head of Product Development, and Executive VP for Quality Control at Nikon. God knows he harps about how awesome he would be at all those things.
Podcasts are great, especially when they are hosted and guested by professional photographers currently shooting for clients. If you put your ear to the ground and your eye to the keyhole you can begin to ascertain that there is both interest and movement toward more people adopting mirrorless. As for sales, in a recent video put out by The Camera Store TV the two hosts commented that they are seeing people migrate to mirrorless 'in droves' and many pros are dumping all their DSLR gear for a lighter mirrorless kit. And these are guys that work in the trenches of one of the largest (if not the largest) camera stores in Calgary. It could be what is happening in their store is a fluke, but it is actually mirrored in my local camera store as well as I'm sure it is in stores around the country. This Week In Photo (a great podcast) is constantly discussing the trend they see in people either adopting or adding mirrorless cameras, and the noticeable lack of quality choices from Nikon and Canon. Another recent article discusses how the owner and CEO of Sigma Japan believes Sony will become the major player in the industry given several more years mainly because of their incredible sensor technology. This is a man who has kept his company private, in the hands of his family, and still produces most or all of their products in Japan with no outsourcing to cheaper Asian labor markets. He's no dummy. It really doesn't matter what type of camera you make if you consistently have the best sensor that everyone is going to want. Sony is in a position to make that happen more then anyone else. Canon can probably still keep up, but Nikon needs to figure its sensor plan out pretty quick.

The point of all this isn't where Canon and Nikon have been, but where both they and the photography market are going. Being the powerhouse in the industry for the last 30 years does not guarantee this will be the case for the next 30, or even 5. Mirrorless cameras are nothing more then mirrorless DSLR's, its an evolution of a product in just about the only way it could evolve. The clunky mechanical mirror box has been researched to death and by doing away with it you open up many new options for technological improvements. If history has taught us anything it is that once a technology is out of the bag it will be developed and used in ways not possible when it was conceived. The mirror box is at the end of its life and there isn't a lot you can do with an optical viewfinder. On sensor focus technology and EVF's have years of advancement ahead of them. Seriously, look at what Sony has done in only two years with the a7 line. Sony is hungry and it wants a share of the pie, a big share. It has shown it is willing to make the investments in both resources and technology to push boundaries and think outside the box. If Canon and Nikon honestly believe that they can just sit on DSLR technology for the next 30 years with nothing but gradual megapixel increases then they are fooling themselves.

Of course mirrorless sales are currently smaller then the established DSLR market. C'mon, its only been out a few years. As more technology is poured into these products by smaller, hungrier companies and the cameras are improving with every generation combined with an aging DSLR user base being replaced by younger photographers who aren't invested in Canon and Nikon....well, that's exactly how you turn a market around. Look at Blackberry. They were the undisputed leaders of Smartphones and they were convinced everyone wanted a physical keyboard on their phone while also ignoring the popularity of a fully stocked App store. Apple and Google chewed em up and spit em out. Kodak couldn't envision a future where photographs were not taken on film, even when they helped develop the first digital cameras. How did that work out for them? In a world of rapidly advancing technologies and a changing photography gestalt where professional images are devalued everyday Canon and Nikon thought everyone would always want a big, bulky DSLR to...oh, wait...we aren't there just quite yet. But it could happen.
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I have yet to pick up a mirrorless camera. I did move over to Apple, the last holdout in the family, a few years ago.
Sometimes I do miss the silence of my Sony P&S and I have looked at some of the mirrorless options just to have a camera for when I need to be silent.
Not really sure why anyone cares if Canon or Nikon do mirrorless in a serious way. Are there not enough companies doing them now?

If you can't find a system that suits you now with all the options I'm not sure you ever will. Choice is nice, and there's lots of choice now.
Tecboy, I think your EOS 70D will be great for your new adventures in Hybrid photography. I wish you the best of luck with that. Can we expect to see a hybrid Avatar photo of you soon? Three little stills and then a short video maybe? Oh I know...on the video part you could say "Why so serious?" or even "Why so mirrorless?" :)

Jaomul, as far as Canon doing a real mirrorless I for one am very interested in this. I shoot Sony because they make the camera I need for my photography, namely a FF mirrorless camera. I would prefer to own a Canon instead mainly because of their excellent service/repair system. Sony cant hold a candle to this and if they are in any way serious about capturing more of the pro market they need to do something about it. And to be completely honest Canon knows how to build a much more rugged camera then Sony. I would love a slimmed down MC/EVF version of the 1D series with high megapixel count. The icing on the cake would be for Canon to recognize its heritage and also release an official Canon FD adapter for it so that all of that wonderful old manual focus Canon goodness could instantly be mounted up and used to create beautiful art. So yeah, I want a serious MC from Canon.
Not really sure why anyone cares if Canon or Nikon do mirrorless in a serious way. Are there not enough companies doing them now?

If you can't find a system that suits you now with all the options I'm not sure you ever will. Choice is nice, and there's lots of choice now.
When you have 20k+ invested in EF glass and speedlights you'll care.

Personally, I picked up a Sony to shoot alongside my Canon system. Initially I just wanted that amazing sensor, but the more I shoot with it the more I think that it is the future. There are times that the EVF is a hindrance, but those are the kind of specialized situations where a DSLR really shines anyway.

As far as mirrorless cameras being a "tiny part" of the market. I'd just point out that Sony now makes up 13% of all ILC sales. They went from "fighting for scraps with Oly and Pentax" to having a very firm foothold in the market. They are the only camera maker on an upward sales trajectory right now.

Of course, a lot of the hype with the Sony is specifically with their sensors. I think if Canon can come up with a sensor that competes with the Sony it may stem the tide of "switchers".

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