Crisis, recession, deflation, financial crush, layoffs are all words that we hear about on a daily basis. Whatever you feel/think about them, there is a reality: the consumers are buying less. This is as true for photo hardware and software as for the other markets (maybe it’s worse for cars…)
Now, this has a clear impact on the decisions in photography-related companies. Who would want to spend millions of dollars on advertisement, press information, etc. if the potential customers are not even listening because their attention is focused on managing their day-to-day life or a foreclosure? Additionally, many camera manufacturers see their prices forced up (at the worst possible time) by unfavorable evolution of exchange rates (everybody is speaking about the world-wide price hike-ups of Nikon, Sigma and a few others). So, many marketing departments of photo companies are reviewing their launch calendar.
It seems that one of the first companies to have made a decision here is Canon. The word is out that the Canon EOS 500D is currently pressured for a delay which would make its launch more in line with a less depressed market. It may be pushed from this Winter to Spring or early Summer 2009 (Northlight Images even say Autumn). Of course, this goes with the possibility for the designers to add new features if it is still possible to use this delay. This could be a good financial and technical strategy.
However, there is a lot of pressure mounting inside Canon in order to close the gap created by Nikon with the launch of the Nikon D90, Nikon D700, Nikon D3x. The Canon 500D with video features would be a good answer.
It is also said that the Pentax K30D may be delayed. Or is it that Pentax is unsure about what to include in the package right now?
Sony has a lot of things to send to the market in 2009. Scheduling the launches in steps could be natural if they need to spread the costs, but I doubt they will adopt such a strategy. Despite the financial issues they recently disclosed, they seem quite able to pursue their usual strategy of “maximum impact” which supports well the simultaneous disclosing of a wealth of products. Nevertheless, it could lead to a step-by-step availability.
Nothing seems to be said of Nikon delays. Is it because they are perceived as having such an impetus that they can’t stop pushing new good products to the market?
Whatever happens, recession is a factor that the marketing department of any major camera company must take into account. There is little doubt that 2009 (and possibly 2010) will be a bad year for all consumer-oriented industries. Since no part of the world will be doing really better than the others, this brings the need to be cautious. Let’s hope that camera brands will not stop showing us good (better?) cameras.