Sorry We Didn't Listen to You...

I continue to be bemused. 

"...we have received orders that far exceed expectations..."

Yep, it continues to happen. This time it was the Sony 300mm f/2.8GM lens that triggered the comment from the Japanese manufacturer, but we've seen it from Canon, Fujifilm, and Nikon, too.

I have to repeat: if it is true that orders exceeded expectations, this is a product marketing failure. A gross failure. Meanwhile, admitting "failure" in Japan is a cultural no-no, so what the heck is going on here? 

I've written for three decades now that the insular R&D and distributed subsidiary organization of the Japanese companies is a big problem. I believe that I know more about Nikon's primary customers in the US than does Nikon corporate, for instance, which is a huge problem if even remotely true. The reason I write the foregoing is simple: I deal with dozens, often hundreds, of Nikon users a day. I hear their issues/problems/desires directly. For Nikon, however, there's a funnel system that isolates the development teams. First, a customer tries contacting NikonUSA customer service. What happens in that exchange usually triggers the question to me ;~). Sometimes things get escalated from customer service to higher within NikonUSA, but ultimately, what gets sent to Japan—translated into Japanese by someone who didn't hear the original complaint—is a very small subset of what the customers are actually reporting. 

You can even see this on the Internet fora. More often than not, real issues show up in frustrated posts long before the Japanese company picks up on it. And sometimes, those posts are just ignored. 

I've written it before, but the whole camera design climate in Tokyo is paternalistic. They believe they know what we need, and they refuse to talk to us customers directly. Then when they do create something we want, they're surprised by the demand for it. 

There's little doubt in my mind that a fair amount of the collapse of the dedicated camera market is due to the distance between the designers and the users. Yes, gearheads exist that worship any increase in any number or function, and will buy anything the camera maker creates. But that's not the majority of the market, it's just a vocal subset. So the constant small iterations in hardware, particularly for the last decade or so, isn't resonating with the customers who've stopped buying new cameras. 

If you can't solve a real user problem, you don't need a new product. 

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