A friend recently asked me whether I thought the MF camera companies had a future. The best answer I could come up with was that I thought it would be a very hard sell to get the next generation, reared on the Steve Jobsian vision of technological interface, to spend tens of thousands of dollars on camera technology that feels like it should be in a museum by comparison (ie: essentially everything in MF, and a lot of other cameras, too.).
But somehow all that ever comes out of the production pipeline looks like a warmed-over Chevy Malibu.
I don't disagree, except I'm not too sure about the billion dollar thing, as most of what is truly modern is already out there in consumer grade cameras.
Hell, an I phone has a touch screen focus, a few of the consumer cameras have touch screen everything, image stabilization, incredibly high iso, they just don't have the depth, range or robust build to use for full fledged professional production.
In the professional realm we seem just over the wall happy to get an lcd that let's us see the image in decent detail, or tethering software that doesn't crash "too much".
Consumers would never put up with the beta testing process professionals have to endure. If they did there would be 2,000 class action lawsuits filed hourly.
Actually professionals of all pay grades put up with camera problems less and less. I can count about a dozen ex medium format owners that now shoot some kind of dslr, shoot a lot and are still turning a good profit in this economically challenged world. Some of them might go back to medium format if it was as usable as their Canons and Nikons, but not for the price, not for the problems, especially not for the slowdown in production.
Regardless, my point is the entry level photographers I've worked with in the last 10 years "want" to be a photographer and are slowly trying to embrace motion capture.
They might not know film but they "want" to use the best camera they can afford and where the medium format companies fall down in their marketing and sales efforts is they seem to have given up on this market to concentrate on the well heeled amateur. Nothing wrong with being well heeled, or an amateur but I find it amazing that almost daily some mfd back maker sends out an e-mail selling some shoot the rocks seminar (once again nothing wrong with shooting rocks . . . I guess).
It probably doesn't matter, because by the time mfd back makers find a way to get their cameras in the professional entry level photographers hands, RED "might" have something called a Scarlet or Rouge or Super Duper Epic camera that has a larger sensor, a 5" lcd, touch screen that track autofocuses and will probably be around the same price as a p65+.
To me that's when it is game over for traditional, professional cameras of all formats.
I think RED is the nightmare for every professional camera company, still and motion. They're owner is #110 on the Forbes 400, so obviously he can't be bought off, or probably out spent and if you just run the numbers RED has probably already sold well over half a billion dollars in cameras and accessories.
Imagine what they would do if they got product out faster.