Is there a perfect storm on the horizon? After my post on the CIPA data I consider whether that maybe the case. In the UK at least, we have a lot of uncertainty regarding Brexit which has already devalued the pound. Manufacturers have imposed increases using exchange rates as a
We also have a general election coming up. Yeah.. so? Well disposable income could be squeezed even further. Changes to tax regimes, inflation and undefined Brexit conditions will all have an effect. Utility bills are gradually going up, food prices are bouncing around as is the price of petrol and diesel. Council tax increases also came into effect last month. The cost of living is creeping upwards after being reasonably stable.
In terms of photography gear, every new model introduced results in an increased price. This is also feeding through to used equipment. It would appear after enjoying a period of relatively ‘cheap’ photography the hobby looks set to get more expensive.
We have already seen smartphones decimate the compact camera segment. They have become good enough for a lot of people. Those who would not carry a camera now have something half decent at least, in a device that will be with them most of the time. It can also share your images effortlessly if that’s your thing.
So will there be room for all the DSLR and mirrorless cameras being thrust upon us? A couple of manufacturers (Nikon and Sony) have already alluded that they want to sell fewer but more profitable cameras. Probably others want to do the same too. Lets face it, it is good business in one way. Sell higher value (with implied higher profit) not volume. If your business model supports that, it does look appealing. The issue to overcome is if you need to transition between them. You cant go from volume to value overnight. Wonder how many people Nikon have working on this?
I’ve written before that Nikon at least (maybe some others) need to rationalise, with far too many bodies in the line up. Apart from confusing consumers do we really need all the models in the current range? Perhaps there is so much stock of ‘older’ models they don’t want to risk losing sales by discontinuing them. How they got into that mess in the first place needs examining if you ask me. Nikon need to be reminded of the meaning of ‘Muda’*.
While people still clamour for improved this and that on photography forums, those same people already have a camera they can use. There also might be an element of more gear geek than actual photographer. Perhaps some professionals doing specialist ‘togging might need certain features, but the majority of us? Surely we are well served in both new and used choice. Nikon could go out of business tomorrow and there would still be enough Nikon bodies and glass to last a while. I’m still using my D200!
We also have the elephant in the room – is the ‘heyday’ of photography coming to an end?
Are people feeling a bit ‘been there, done that’ about photography as a hobby? Perhaps the people who bought the bulk of the lower end models are moving on to different things instead of upgrading. Soccer (or football to give its proper name) moms (mums) kids are growing up. Are they even doing the same things? Do they need there every moment recorded by a DSLR or mirrorless kit? Is a smartphone with a decent camera better for them?
Remember when PCs were selling like hotcakes? Then laptop and tablets came along and the PCs gradually faded into the background. Their still there but in far less numbers. Yes I still have one 🙂 Get the feeling DSLRs are heading that way?
Between uncertainty, rising prices, taxes, general elections (in other words – life), maybe people are changing spending habits and looking for new experiences and hobbies. For the life of me, I cant get my 25 year old son into photography. Out of 100 odd people that he knows only four have any real interest. My youngest son is different and quite happy to use a camera. So a 50% split there 🙂
Does photography as we know and love it still hold that magical attraction? Will younger generations adopt the hobby with the same enthusiasm we did? Or will they be content with smartphones and instant sharing?
Perhaps there is a perfect storm on the horizon.
* Muda – Japanese word pertaining to wastefulness and non value adding activities in a production environment.
The recently released CIPA data has caused a bit of a stir. It would appear that some people are reading an overly optimistic tone into a potential blip.
Having worked in R&D and with some experience of data sets it is dangerous to look at just a few points. It maybe that people want to look for some sort of recovery. What the CIPA data tells us though is shipments NOT sales. The data shows manufacturers managed to shift units into the supply chain.
It is not clear yet whether the supply chain will be able to move those units on to customers. My feeling is boxes are moving around without ending up where they need too.
Until there is some reliable measure of sales units the CIPA data maybe the best we have to go on. At the moment though I fear the wrong conclusions are being drawn from the wrong data.