Well that's just not how discussion and debate work. You don't get to walk off and request that's the end of the conversation.
Yes - the absolute numbers aren't actually very important, and what is important is growth in the market place. But what we have here as a Steve who, as a dealer, presumably has some pretty good insight into the market, and you - who, with your connections also presumably have a very good insight - claiming totally the opposite thing.
It is quite possible that you're referring to different measurements of course. Perhaps Steve is referring to sales of new backs only, and you are referring to sales of new and re-furbed. Who knows? Well, nobody is going to have a clue with so much obfuscation going on.
What I find simply astonishing is the attitude shown by "insiders"who should be doing everything they can to reassure those considering buying into MFDB that they're making a wise choice.
We're talking about people considering "investing" anything from $10K to $100K and up in their "support" of the OEMs.
Don't you (and Steve) think that those people - and I most certainly include myself in that group - deserve a little more respect than to read conflicting "well, I'm well connected and in the know and you're just going to have to trust me on this when I say the market is growing/declining [delete as appropriate]" statements of "fact", and then to be told that's the end of the discussion? That any further information is bait for trolls?
My estimates are always about new product sales, in units sold, not also including 2nd hand, etc. Keep in mind when I offer a number, I am not stating it as a fact (nor have I ever). It is an educated guess on my part, based on my past employment with the following companies:
14 years experience selling digital backs from Sinar/Jenoptik/Leaf/Mamiya/Imacon/Hasselblad/Phase One
I've been in corporate meetings with my employees discussing numbers, I've been in dealer/partner meetings with manufacturers discussing numbers, as one of the largest (and widest reaching) focused dealers for these products worldwide, I also have a decent sense of how things are out there in the marketplace.
All this only contributes to my estimation of the market and the performance of the market.
I will add I've never felt glad after the fact about providing this information, for the way my experience gets twisted to suit someone's agenda or mis-represented perspective.
When you talk about "respect", that seems to imply that there is disrespect tendered in the way that marketshare, sales numbers, etc, is provided. I don't see how that can be the case. I do not factually know the numbers. I can offer an educated guesstimate, I have offered educated guesstimates, and it's either like members don't believe me or they just pretend to not hear me. I don't have a lot of control over that.
I'm also going to say that the only reason that I even offer up any guess's is because some like to stir the pot of doom, and then see the masses run in fear. I think some actually take glee out of it. Does medium format digital have a future is a legitimate question. Just the same as one could question any number of imaging segments, products, etc. It gets taken a step further - true, because of the estimable cost, but also because there are some who provoke and mis-represent. Which leads to me feeling the need to at least share my experience and my perspective on the market place.
I get it. But I'm also bullish on medium format digital. Many could just invest in 35mm DSLR, but clearly they want more, they desire something different. Do they not? Is this not relevant? Is this not important? A medium format digital camera is not an easy camera system to use and get results from, in contrast to other smaller camera systems (neither is 4x5, or 8x10, etc, for that matter). And yet, here we still are.
If anything, the fact that medium format digital is still here, the fact that medium format digital does continue to invest and evolve and expand capability and features, that at least some companies seem to be doing quite well, that smaller format camera systems continue to improve and advance, in the face of all this, if anything - to me - this to me seems like more of an ironic success story than a picture of doom and gloom.
Ultimately what would the real numbers actually mean, if anything, to you in terms of should you invest or not? In MFD's peak year in 2007 (let's just say, I don't know), there were 8,700 medium format new digital backs sold. In 2012, let's say there were 6,800 new units sold. Ok, so what then? In 2001 there were 5,500 units sold. So what then?
I don't know how many units get sold. But I know how many units every dealers sold in the US for quite a few years with 3 different companies. And I know how CI stacks up in the USA and (roughly) worldwide.
Especially when you add Leica and Pentax into the mix, I believe the number is easily over 6,000, might even be 7,000, maybe 8,000. But that is just my guess. These are not large companies and getting real numbers from them may never happen. But I would say looking at the real evidence in front of you - amazing competitive pressure, severe downturn in world economy, and then look at the segment, look at the products and the technology, look at the interest and enthusiasm, and I don't see why someone investing in a digital back today has any reason to feel concern. Does your investment take a hit? Yes, of course, all digital capture products take a hit, the difference is in the dollars, the percentages are probably similar. You can either afford to be in medium format digital, or you cannot. That is the market. The interest is there, the desire is there, the enthusiasm is there. The size of the market is dictated by those who can afford it. I'm not saying it's a rich persons market, (a 40MP Pentax is $6,900), I'm just saying it is a market for those who can afford it. Regardless of what numbers anyone wishes to project, the real evidence is that the market continues to exist, and pretty strongly so.