Thom Hogan and Michael Reichmann both seem to delight in explaining how to save the camera industry, by trotting out various fantastical ideas. Michael is essentially proposing Sony put out a halo product (halo products are a pure marketing move) aimed at grabbing mindshare from the tiny tiny tiny fraction of the market who are basically just like Michael. Thom's ideas are all basically the same sort of thing: "do X because that would make me and the three other chaps just like me love you. Not that we'd BUY one obviously, but we'd sure nod approvingly"
They're both quite wrong.
It's *over*. The game is up. The selling 20M DSLRs per year are gone, and they're never coming back. The correct strategy is to position your company to be the dominant player in the considerably smaller market that we'll eventually stabilize on. There may be parallel work in capturing some of the revenue from phone-based imaging, and there's a bunch of possible plays there -- but those are separate from the interchangeable lens camera market. That market is shrinking, and the weaker players are going to wash out.
In the interchangeable lens market, I see Canikon moving slowly and carefully. I think they both feel that the situation is fragile, and that they need to protect their current position. Sony might well benefit from a wild Hail Mary move, mainly because they have literally nothing to lose -- without a major change in the market, they are simply not going to be present as players in some modest number of years.
I'm pretty sure that a halo product is the wrong move, though. It's a way to spend a bunch of money to capture the love of an incredibly small number of people.
The market has divided, and very few people have picked up on the essentials of that. Pundits are still obsessed over whether phones can deliver enough quality, and such nonsense.
Market Slice One
The bigger market is people who just want pictures. They don't give a damn about depth of field or pixels or blah blah. They just want pictures of the kid making the cute face, or grandma holding the baby, of the bunch of flowers, of their lunch. They mainly want pictures for the purpose of sharing and forgetting these days, but sometimes they want pictures to stick in a Shutterfly book or whatever. They Just. Want. Pictures.
5-10 years ago if you Just Wanted Pictures you bought a Canon Rebel. Now you use your iPhone and it is objectively a FAR SUPERIOR tool in EVERY IMPORTANT WAY.
That's why the DSLR market as we knew it is OVER. The people who want pictures don't want a DSLR. They don't want a DSLR with WiFi, they don't want a DSLR with whatever feature you suggest. What they want is a cell phone with a camera. It is literally the perfect tool for their needs.
Market Slice Two
Everyone else. Sometimes it's the same people on a different day. They do want some sort of control. They're making pictures for the sake of the picture, not to simply record something. They might want control of DoF, they might want instagram style filters, they might want darn near anything. Some of these people will use iPhones by preference. They share online, they print, they *do* everything the first bunch does, and more besides, but they do it for different reasons.
This is where Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Sony are fooling around. This is the slice of the market that is shrinking inexorably, down to.. I don't know. A few million units a year, most likely. 1 million? 5 million? I don't know. Somewhere in there though.
This is the market Canikons are moving to dominate. They need to figure out how to scale their businesses back without destroying them (and that's an internal business matter) while simultaneously positioning for, first, profitability and, second, eventual dominance.
How do you dominate this market?
Well, you have to segment it first, because "everyone else" covers a ton of territory. If you're in the interchangeable lens camera biz, you need to not worry about those Photographers who want to use a cell phone or similar. They you need to figure out:
- what problems the ILC-using Photographer types have, and solve them
- who the influencers in those communities (if any) are, and influence them
I don't know what problems exist for the ILS-using photographers. There are methods for figuring this out, and they do not include sitting in front of your computer guessing.
Certainly Michael and Thom are, to a degree, influencers. But so are Eric Kim, Ming Thein, Michael Johnston, Daniel Milnor, and and and and the list goes on. And every one of them wants something different. I'm not sure, honestly, that influencers exist in the ways that they used to, so quite a few of the tools in the traditional marketing toolbox become unavailable.
Anyways. Wishing very hard won't work, and neither will trying to woo the cell phone users back.