Pages: 1 2 [3] 4 5 ... 12   Go Down

Author Topic: Camera industry in the dumpster - article  (Read 42910 times)

amolitor

  • Guest
Re: Camera industry in the dumpster - article
« Reply #40 on: March 18, 2014, 02:26:12 pm »

I will say that Michael's remarks on what the camera industry ought to do are both somewhat offensive, and correct, albeit for the wrong reasons.

He says, I paraphrase, that camera makers need to make cameras with feature sets that camera enthusiasts will appreciate. Appropriate features for actual working photographers.

There is an assumption here that camera makers are incapable of market research. There's an excellent reason for having what appears to be a bizarre mix of misfeatures, and that reason is SIXTEEN MILLION UNITS PER YEAR. These guys are not idiots, they've shifted many many billions of dollars in product in the last decade. The fact that they don't make the perfect mix of features for this self-styled expert or that one is irrelevant, they're been shifting product like nobody's business, and they're been doing it by performing excellent market research and product management. To even hint that these guys were shifting several billion dollars a year in cameras in spite of their ham-fisted and incompetent product management is silly, bordering on idiotic. While success does not imply genius, success in a tough, consumer oriented, competitive marketplace, *is* pretty much a guarantee of at least competence.

The market is contracting. The people who "just want pictures" are using cell phones now. The market is contracting back to its pre-digital size and, more importantly, shape. The people buying digital cameras in future will tend to be camera enthusiasts, people more like Michael, more like most of the readership of LuLa. The market research engines in the surviving and considerably smaller companies will drive future models appropriate to maximizing revenue out of that old/new reshaped market.

So, yes, you can look forward to cameras that have what YOU think is a more appropriate set of features. It won't be because the camera makers have "matured" and finally started to do the right thing, it will be because the market has changed, and the surviving players will change with it.
Logged

michael

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 5084
Re: Camera industry in the dumpster - article
« Reply #41 on: March 18, 2014, 02:48:13 pm »

Andrew,

As someone that has worked in the industry for almost 50 years, has run several public companies, has worked as a senior national manager for one of Japan's largest consumer electronics conglomerates, I can tell you that for all of their billions, for all of their market research, and for all of their smart people, many if not most of these companies are clueless when it comes to the needs of serious photographers and pros.

I have been in product planning meetings where focus groups of specifically invited photographers, all with vast experience and credentials, are asked by these companies for their feedback and input on a new product, and then when the product in question appears 12-18 months later, the simplest suggestions are not included and major shortcomings, which were openly discussed, are still there.

Call it hubris, call in corporate blinders, call it management stupidity, but the camera industry is nowhere near as attuned to the top segment of the marketplace as you seem to give them credit for.

And anecdotally, I was speaking with a colleague today who, as I do from time to time, does alpha and beta testing for a few companies. He was telling me about an upcoming camera which he was alpha testing which has a major flaw, which he noticed the first day, and which when he reported it was told..."Really? We never noticed that".

In other words, you think I was "offensive" in some of my comments. I think that you, on the other hand, over estimate the good sense of many of the companies when it comes to designing the products that knowledgable photographers need. Their lame track records proves it.

Michael
Logged

amolitor

  • Guest
Re: Camera industry in the dumpster - article
« Reply #42 on: March 18, 2014, 02:56:55 pm »

But the point is, michael, 5 years ago the needs of the serious photographers and pros were irrelevant. When you're got a $5B sales target, you're not going to let some niche market -- which might be a $100M market -- screw up the $5B with their special needs.


ETA: I never claimed that the camera markers were "attuned to the top segment of the marketplace", indeed what I did say is almost the opposite of that.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2014, 03:18:32 pm by amolitor »
Logged

John Camp

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1951
Re: Camera industry in the dumpster - article
« Reply #43 on: March 18, 2014, 03:18:11 pm »

Andrew, I think you're not taking into account the fact that people need cameras. That is, they will buy them even if they're not particularly good, because they need the machine. To argue that the camera company people are actually wizards whose massive market research produces the best possible overall outcome is simply wrong -- major companies screw up all the time, and persist in their problems, even when EVERYBODY knows that it's wrong. And they still, as you put it, manage to shift a lot of whatever they're selling, because people need them...until something better comes along. Ask the once-dominant cell-phone makers Blackberry and Nokia about that.

One camera company after another has come up with menu systems that drive photographers nuts -- because it's one thing to look at a menu system on your computer screen as you're programming it, and another thing to look at it on a tiny LCD in a snowstorm. People bought them anyway, and suffered with them, because they needed the cameras. To use a non-camera example of the same thing, BMW had a control system called iDrive, and I had it in a $70,000 7-series automobile. I never did completely figure it out. BMW kept it for years, in the face of massive and universal criticism by almost everybody outside the company, and, no doubt, quite a few inside. They kept dinking around with it, pretending it only needed a couple of touches to fix, but they were wrong. In fact, what iDrive required from the customer was a long initial study (this to turn on the heat) followed by refreshers every week or so. It was an engineering marvel and a consumer nightmare. Eventually, they mostly gave up -- it simply wasn't a suitable system to their cars, and almost everybody knew it about 20 minutes after the first car was released. But the company didn't. People bought BMWs anyway because they wanted the style and performance, which didn't mean that iDrive was a good idea -- and they might have sold more cars if they didn't have iDrives. I myself have shifted to a competitor company, and have never gone back to BMW.

What Michael *didn't* emphasize enough (IMHO) is that this situation tends to be self-correcting, as in the case of Blackberry and Nokia; and some of these camera companies are going to find that out, if they're not careful.
Logged

amolitor

  • Guest
Re: Camera industry in the dumpster - article
« Reply #44 on: March 18, 2014, 03:21:39 pm »

That is certainly true. Canon and Nikon are in the process of missing a massive shift in the mass market. Probably because they're simply not the companies that can follow that shift. They ARE the companies that can follow the other side of the splitting market, and start building for the enthusiasts again.

Worth noting: The mass market is NOT shifting toward the camera Michael has always wanted to buy, which someone is FINALLY building.
Logged

michael

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 5084
Re: Camera industry in the dumpster - article
« Reply #45 on: March 18, 2014, 03:56:54 pm »

"But the point is, michael, 5 years ago the needs of the serious photographers and pros were irrelevant."

I'm really not sure where your information comes from or where your expertise lies, but in my view the above statement is so patently wrong, that I think I'll leave this thread for now. No point in responding further.

Michael
Logged

hjulenissen

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2051
Re: Camera industry in the dumpster - article
« Reply #46 on: March 18, 2014, 04:09:36 pm »

As someone that has worked in the industry for almost 50 years, has run several public companies, has worked as a senior national manager for one of Japan's largest consumer electronics conglomerates, I can tell you that for all of their billions, for all of their market research, and for all of their smart people, many if not most of these companies are clueless when it comes to the needs of serious photographers and pros.
That is an interesting background.

May I comment that:
1. Recognizing what will be perceived as a flaw by "serious photographers and pros" is not the same fixing it? I have many strong opinions on UI, but I am aware that I am incapable of doing it myself.

2. Building what the customers say that they want is not a bulletproof recipe for selling lots of products.
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” - attributed to Henry Ford
“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” - attributed to Steve Jobs
3. You may know what serious/pro photographers in your sphere wants. But do you know what wealthy amateurs in Russia or China wants? Or scientific photographers? The big manufacturers probably needs to have a broad appeal globally.

-h
Logged

LKaven

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1060
Re: Camera industry in the dumpster - article
« Reply #47 on: March 18, 2014, 04:19:51 pm »

2. Building what the customers say that they want is not a bulletproof recipe for selling lots of products.

Agreed.  There needs to be a dialectic with the customer base.  But there also needs to be a master architect at work, someone with a vision, someone who understands purpose (as in the greek telos).

amolitor

  • Guest
Re: Camera industry in the dumpster - article
« Reply #48 on: March 18, 2014, 04:40:26 pm »

There are lots of fallacies in play here, and in similar discussions across the internet (they all pretty much look the same).

Another one is that a great *product* is something that does its job very well. Let us examine a great product, the iPhone. This is a great product, make no mistake. This is a triumph of product design. And, this is important: It does NOTHING well. It is a mediocre phone, a terrible web browser, a terrible email client, and not a very good camera. There is literally NO FUNCTION it performs particularly well. Add to that, it's too big, simultaneously too small, its battery life is terrible, the UI is sketchy, and a host of other issues.

Why is it a great product?

Because it performs the right suite of functions *well* *enough* and in a form factor that is *good* *enough* to hit an enormously large market. The iPhone defined a new market, which now has several more or less indistinguishable players, and it has destroyed or damaged at least two completely separate multi-billion dollar markets. That's a *hell* of a product. And it isn't good at anything. Think that over a bit.

Manifestly, Nikon and Canon have done a tremendous job of mining the mass market with cameras that are, frankly, not very good cameras. Obviously they could have built much better cameras. You can decide that they're incompetent, and if only they had listened to the serious and pro photographers, they would have built great cameras. And that is probably true, they would have built great cameras. I predict that, in fact, one of them would have built some great cameras, while the other one obliterated them by building not great cameras but great *products*. By building cameras that, while not very good, were *good* *enough* for a large enough market to capture that market and wipe out the competition.

Logged

barryfitzgerald

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 688
Re: Camera industry in the dumpster - article
« Reply #49 on: March 18, 2014, 04:46:05 pm »

I would have to agree with Michael on this (a rare event for me)
I honestly think that whatever goes on in a board room or by a design team, has very little to do with the actual needs of photographers.
Whilst I've not deal with many makers, I have with a few..including Sony, Pentax, Nikon and Ricoh

Whilst all bar Ricoh were in relation to service issues, I can say that after a warranty send in and about a month later, Sony didn't actually know where my camera was, and despite making lots of phone calls most of the people I spoke too barely knew the day it was let alone anything about the product. Cutting a long story short I ended up annoying Sony on facebook to the point where someone had to pick up the phone and sort it out (which they did eventually after hitting them worldwide on social media) I literally had to hold the to ransom and kick up a fuss to the point where they compensated me for the cost of the camera.

I've had equally bad experiences with Pentax (who admitted a problem, but then ignored any correspondence about it) and Nikon's service is highly unreliable too, after about 4 service trips I ended up dumping all my Nikon gear as my confidence in the company was completely gone.

You could argue customer service isn't product development. But my point is this, if companies are so poor at looking after their paying customers. Why on earth would anyone expect them to be highly tuned into "what people want with new stuff"
My experience with Ricoh was a loaner camera (which was returned after testing) I gave them a very comprehensive list of my experience and suggestions after using one for about a month, they were polite but never even adopted one single suggestion, despite many review sites saying the same thing I did (ie improvements to make)

I'm not sure if this is Corporate arrogance in Japanese camera companies, but it surely smells a lot like it to me.
Looking at the QC issues we've seen from various makers (and quite a lot of problems in total) I'd be amazed if any kind of "serious" field testing goes on at all
Whilst I've soft spot for Fuji (one company that has been at least trying) you have to admit they've had a fair few "beta cameras" launched on customers in their time

The situation is quite frustrating in some ways, I can see (and so can others) some very silly and obvious mistakes in terms of design or bugs/ergonomics. Question is why can't they?
I think the last company to be most in tune with photographers is gone from the business. Minolta you are missed!
Logged

ErikKaffehr

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 11301
    • Echophoto
Re: Camera industry in the dumpster - article
« Reply #50 on: March 18, 2014, 04:51:57 pm »

Hi,

I would argue that today's cameras are good enough. Also, I would argue that development is incremental, a small improvement here and a small improvement there.

On the user interface issues, I would say that there are lot of things I would like to have behave differently, but it is in no way given that a majority of photographers would like to have it my way.

Just two examples. I like presets and I like switches. Should a preset override a switch? On the Sony Alpha 99 they got rid of the AF-switch and the switch for Antishake. I don't want any AF with camera on tripod and no Antishake. So I got it my way… But I don't think it's everyones liking.

Best regards
Erik




There are lots of fallacies in play here, and in similar discussions across the internet (they all pretty much look the same).

Another one is that a great *product* is something that does its job very well. Let us examine a great product, the iPhone. This is a great product, make no mistake. This is a triumph of product design. And, this is important: It does NOTHING well. It is a mediocre phone, a terrible web browser, a terrible email client, and not a very good camera. There is literally NO FUNCTION it performs particularly well. Add to that, it's too big, simultaneously too small, its battery life is terrible, the UI is sketchy, and a host of other issues.

Why is it a great product?

Because it performs the right suite of functions *well* *enough* and in a form factor that is *good* *enough* to hit an enormously large market. The iPhone defined a new market, which now has several more or less indistinguishable players, and it has destroyed or damaged at least two completely separate multi-billion dollar markets. That's a *hell* of a product. And it isn't good at anything. Think that over a bit.

Manifestly, Nikon and Canon have done a tremendous job of mining the mass market with cameras that are, frankly, not very good cameras. Obviously they could have built much better cameras. You can decide that they're incompetent, and if only they had listened to the serious and pro photographers, they would have built great cameras. And that is probably true, they would have built great cameras. I predict that, in fact, one of them would have built some great cameras, while the other one obliterated them by building not great cameras but great *products*. By building cameras that, while not very good, were *good* *enough* for a large enough market to capture that market and wipe out the competition.


Logged
Erik Kaffehr
 

LKaven

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1060
Re: Camera industry in the dumpster - article
« Reply #51 on: March 18, 2014, 04:57:10 pm »

The iPhone does nothing well?  Come on.

It was the first phone in which the complete array of lifestyle uses for it came bundled together with it.  The entirety of the iTunes store would work seamlessly with it, and with all of your iPod libraries.  It drew millions of people into developing Apps.  It made the word "app" a household name.  Every media company in the world wanted to put their media on it and sell their media through iTunes.  The iPad was inevitable.

This is what it means to do something well.  It's the "telos" people.  The telos.  The device has a purpose in your life.  They made sure of that.

ErikKaffehr

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 11301
    • Echophoto
Re: Camera industry in the dumpster - article
« Reply #52 on: March 18, 2014, 05:10:39 pm »

But, iPhones no longer dominate the market, Android does as far as I know. Like Android having 74.9% and iPhones having 14.4%.

Best regards
Erik


The iPhone does nothing well?  Come on.

It was the first phone in which the complete array of lifestyle uses for it came bundled together with it.  The entirety of the iTunes store would work seamlessly with it, and with all of your iPod libraries.  It drew millions of people into developing Apps.  It made the word "app" a household name.  Every media company in the world wanted to put their media on it and sell their media through iTunes.  The iPad was inevitable.

This is what it means to do something well.  It's the "telos" people.  The telos.  The device has a purpose in your life.  They made sure of that.
Logged
Erik Kaffehr
 

amolitor

  • Guest
Re: Camera industry in the dumpster - article
« Reply #53 on: March 18, 2014, 05:14:10 pm »

iPhone, Android. Pretty much the same thing, from a sufficiently high level. The details vary, of course, but they're basically the same bundle of features in basically the same form factor. And neither one does any particular task well, but they do the suite of things they do well enough.

It is the difference between "do well" and "do well enough" that is critical here.
Logged

LKaven

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1060
Re: Camera industry in the dumpster - article
« Reply #54 on: March 18, 2014, 05:59:10 pm »

But, iPhones no longer dominate the market, Android does as far as I know. Like Android having 74.9% and iPhones having 14.4%.

Agreed.  But not before Apple made billions coming in with something that suited the purpose.  The fight for the market moved then to the tablets.  They defined that market too.  Nothing lasts forever.  After Jobs, I'm not sure how much genius they have left in them. 

Android signals the rise of the commodity phone.  Apple would have to make a game-changing move to reverse that.  It takes a visionary to understand the one thing that is important, and that is defining and filling a purpose in people's lives. 

BJL

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 6600

But, iPhones no longer dominate the market, Android does as far as I know. Like Android having 74.9% and iPhones having 14.4%.
"Android" is not a phone; it is a piece of free software used in many dozens of phones from numerous makers.
So you are comparing unit sales rather that what people spend (revenues), and sales of hardware from one company versus sales of many models and brands of hardware that simply use a common piece of free software. This makes little sense, especially when you note that the market value of the software is a small fraction of the total market value of the product (As a guideline: MS Windows Phone sells for about $20 per unit.)

Even comparing unit sales rather than revenues is rather pointless when the products have substantially different average market value (as indicated by average unsubsidized retail price.)
By analogy, more people buy Honda vehicles than Toyota vehicles, but people in total spend more on Toyota vehicles than Honda vehicles, due to the very different average selling price.  (The key to that puzzle is that the majority of Honda vehicles are motorbikes, whereas Toyota sells only cars and trucks.)
Logged

ErikKaffehr

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 11301
    • Echophoto
Re: Camera industry in the dumpster - article
« Reply #56 on: March 18, 2014, 08:30:33 pm »

Hi,

Several interesting points.

Best regards
Erik


Agreed.  But not before Apple made billions coming in with something that suited the purpose.  The fight for the market moved then to the tablets.  They defined that market too.  Nothing lasts forever.  After Jobs, I'm not sure how much genius they have left in them. 

Android signals the rise of the commodity phone.  Apple would have to make a game-changing move to reverse that.  It takes a visionary to understand the one thing that is important, and that is defining and filling a purpose in people's lives. 
Logged
Erik Kaffehr
 

LesPalenik

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 3972
    • advantica blog
Re: Camera industry in the dumpster - article
« Reply #57 on: March 18, 2014, 10:30:17 pm »

To use a non-camera example of the same thing, BMW had a control system called iDrive, and I had it in a $70,000 7-series automobile. I never did completely figure it out. BMW kept it for years, in the face of massive and universal criticism by almost everybody outside the company, and, no doubt, quite a few inside. They kept dinking around with it, pretending it only needed a couple of touches to fix, but they were wrong. In fact, what iDrive required from the customer was a long initial study (this to turn on the heat) followed by refreshers every week or so. It was an engineering marvel and a consumer nightmare. Eventually, they mostly gave up -- it simply wasn't a suitable system to their cars, and almost everybody knew it about 20 minutes after the first car was released. But the company didn't. People bought BMWs anyway because they wanted the style and performance, which didn't mean that iDrive was a good idea -- and they might have sold more cars if they didn't have iDrives. I myself have shifted to a competitor company, and have never gone back to BMW.

Another example of a misguided product, designed by a large company who should have been able to do better, is Windows 8.
Logged

Telecaster

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 3686
Re: Camera industry in the dumpster - article
« Reply #58 on: March 19, 2014, 12:29:27 am »

iPhone, Android. Pretty much the same thing, from a sufficiently high level. The details vary, of course, but they're basically the same bundle of features in basically the same form factor. And neither one does any particular task well, but they do the suite of things they do well enough.

It is the difference between "do well" and "do well enough" that is critical here.

I think you're simultaneously being too hard and too easy on various products & companies. IMO iOS/Android products do many things well. There are things they could do better, of course, but the basic concept is strong. Same with the various camera brands. That's the "too hard" part.

Now for "too easy": in my experience many entrepreneurs & companies suffer from the delusion that past successes inoculate you against present & future shortsightedness. When such individuals & corporate entities solicit feedback from customers what they're really looking for isn't useful information but rather a kind of "Oh, yes, you know best!" deference. Anything other than that doesn't register with them. They know they know best, and they expect to hear it from you too! Sometimes insight, innovation and arrogance can coexist in the same person or corporate team over a sustained period—Steve Jobs being the textbook example—but arrogance usually corrodes the other two qualities sooner rather than later. The camera industry is in no way immune to this.

-Dave-
Logged

barryfitzgerald

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 688
Re: Camera industry in the dumpster - article
« Reply #59 on: March 19, 2014, 06:15:52 am »

Apple's design philosophy is simple, and clean design. Though practical aspects take a back seat at times (ie no front USB ports Apple tv for example design over functionality)
And of course they charge a premium for it, though I think they are fast becoming seen as "teen brand" in some ways.

Back to cameras there have been some notable goofs in terms of design and handling. I hope and pray the team that came up with the very first NEX models and did the menus are never allowed to touch a camera again. I'm pretty sure if you dragged someone in off the street to design a camera they could not have done a worse job. I'm also convinced the Fuji X100 was never field tested before it hit production, granted many issues were resolved but still it does make you wonder what some makers do for field testing, if they actually do any!
Logged
Pages: 1 2 [3] 4 5 ... 12   Go Up