02 novembre 2017

(Very) Difficult times ahead for Nikon ...

Nikon I am on the edge!

Nikon the famous camera manufacturer that created "the" F series from the original eponym to the last one (F6) still available is enchaining (very) difficult times. Natural catastrophes over the last years have first undermine their productivity at a period which timing on market can make the difference between success or indifference. Quality control issues first denied than after admitted have lowered the customer confidence over the Nikon products. Awkward choices of new products and even of lines of products for finally dropping them have questioned deeply the pertinence of the planning staff of Nikon. Finally closing of some of the Nikon factories just confirmed their slip down over the market.

Except for very specific technical avancements Nikon has never been a real innovator in the camera market. It is true to say that they have been excellent marketer of new products that proved to be in high demand at the right time. Models such as the F series just demonstrate that. Even more Nikon has builded a solid reputation as a fine optician (not the finest we must also agree) by offering very good and affordable lenses. But there has been also some errances over their history and some incapacities to cope easily with some technical changes like in the case of autofocus lenses.

The Achille heel of Nikon as a corporation has been always their renown incapacity to be auto-critical. As an international marketer Nikon never believed that outside input is necessary to their development. So you can be lucky all the time and be able to recover by ourself every times when a serious problem occur in particular if you have originated yourself the difficulty. You need some original advise with fresh people and fresh perspectives. But can we be critical at Nikon? It seems over the net that it is almost an impossible mission... ask Thom Hogan who has been since several years one of their best ambassador and who has a profound knowledge of their products.

Now Nikon is experimenting the realities of the new world market that became very critical and very documented for any product. For example Nikon have missed completely the strong coming of the high-end mirrorless cameras. Its Nikon 1 series was a fruitless effort to maintain an artificial segmentation between "serious" photographers and pure amateurs. Now Nikon have simply abandoned their faithful supporters. That can be very costly in term of its follower base.

So what is necessary for Nikon ahead to recover and stop that dropping slope. Many things in fact because a lot of ancient Nikon owners have now adopted new systems very reliable and always updated (which is not really part of the Nikon culture) and the probability that they decide to come back to Nikon on a short term is very thin. Nikon will have to do its work and prove to them its serious involvement. In that thinking we are literally speaking of a complete new high-end and compact mirrorless system with different camera models and a complete lens line-up. This development may take at least two or three years to be done and maybe more time to get full success trust over the market.

At this point I am not overly optimist especially seeing that many recent Nikon decisions seem to be issued from corporative preoccupations only in complete ignorance of the evolution of the camera market. And I have serious doubt that somebody can be able to give them a serious wake-up call in the near future.

Nikon won't be the first big trade name of the recent photographic history to be flush out of the market for reasons that originated of their own organisation. It is a destiny that they will share with others famous names.

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