It's a Tough Market

This "Nikon is failing" posts just keep showing up, the latest round due to the recent posting of new BCN+R numbers out of Japan. I go into detail about that on the zysystemuser site today and why I don't put much credence in those numbers or what they mean about Nikon mirrorless, but there's a more general thing that needs to be said.

Pretty much the entire market is failing if the definition is "struggling to show growth and/or make a profit". Okay, maybe Fujifilm is showing volume growth, but that's mostly in the X-A5 thru X-S10 level cameras. I'm not sure if the sub-US$1000 camera market is holding up overall, though. The collapse of consumer DSLRs hasn't been met with a commensurate increase in consumer mirrorless. Simply put, fewer people are buying lower end products than before. 

I'm pretty sure that all of the camera companies are now spending most of their effort targeting the higher end market, which is why we're hearing about A1's, R1's, and Z9's and those companies pushing their other full frame offerings. While that's a smallish subset of the previous overall market (say 20% of the 2019 volume as a rough ballpark top end guess), it's the group that still buys cameras and more often now than the disappearing consumer-camera crowd. Moreover, there's probably enough profit margin to keep those products iterating and the camera companies operating—though now smaller than before.

Olympus and Nikon have both taken a real ax to the assets and bureaucracy they built up in the first decade of digital. In Nikon's case, as their CFO has just said, the goal was to cut costs and overhead enough so that they could maintain profitability on the lower volume they're now producing, even if that continues to drop some. I'm pretty sure that similar analysis and downsizing plans have been going on at Canon, Panasonic, and Sony, too, though two of those companies could disguise lower volumes due to their overall corporate size and how much their video business shields what's happening in stills. 

It's a tough market for everyone right now. Every camera company has a product or two (or few) that is doing decently and generating good profits, but that doesn't typically spread across all their products. It's probably going to take breaking the pandemic's lock on the economy and travel before we see big smiles on Japanese executives' faces again. In Canon and Nikon's case, it's going to take even more transition to mirrorless, too. 

All that will happen with time. 

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