Thursday, 6 September 2018

Product Differentiation by offering different features not truncating features

So, with the smoke clearing after the Nikon launch of their initial Full Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras (FFMILC) and the Canon launch of their own FFMILC, we now know how the two big players in the camera industry play their hands. Yes, it’s like card players and it’s a leadership choice to take a risk here and there, to draw back at other times. You can do surveys on purchase statistics but at the end of the day, to design a new camera in a new category (as opposed to making a Mark 2, 3, 4), you do have to make a decision and often a crucial decision.

So how should the competitors react? Or more specifically how should Olympus react?

There is the linear reaction – manage advertising and sales campaigns, sales channels, plod along on the current product design policies and path.


There is the proactive non linear initiative – possibly to break current approaches and modes of thinking and outflank the FFMILC.

Here’s an idea. And it’s not altogether unique or new. Because Canon and Nikon have already figured out a bit of the idea.

Differentiate a product not by tiering the product line and truncating features off the lower end models

  1. Entry Level, Lowest Price
  2. Enthusiast Level
  3. Premium
  4. Professional

But by producing DIFFERENT products with DIFFERENT features.

The fundamental questions are:

  • How Different
  • What Different

Olympus once had the mojo on how to do this around the 2010. They’ve lost it in the recent E-M10 Mark III and the PEN E-PL8 design policies. They’ve dropped into a Nikonist culture of tiering the D-3x00, D-5x00, D-7x00. That’s a bad approach for the company and for the buyers. Olympus needs to get their mojo back. Especially when products for that market segment is has been abysmal for Canon and Nikon.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Where goeth Micro Four Thirds?

The Question

With the spate launch announcements of full frame (often abbreviated as FF) interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras (colloquially called “Mirrorless”) following the awakening of the two giants, Nikon and Canon, the time comes again for some crystal ball gazing of the two champions of the Micro Four Thirds  (MFT) Standard, Olympus and Panasonic.

As usual, there is a throng of owners and non owners who have the “chicken little” syndrome – the sky will fall down and all that precious gear will be valueless, without prospect of new products. And then there are the denialists who will stand, shoulder to shoulder and chant “full frame mirrorless is another market, MFT will continue unabated”

My Answer

Olympus and Panasonic, separately and independently, will have to choose a path forward that is aware, with staff leaders who are brave in making decisions and resolute. But they have always been resolute and brave, otherwise they would not have weathered the transition from the loss making prior Four Thirds system to Mirrorless MFT.

Without a doubt, the purchase dollars equation will be affected by more competitors in the Mirrorless market. That is no different from the current situation where Nikon and Canon have had DSLRs (non Mirrorless) and do their outmost to deprecate the Mirrorless market. The only twist, and it is a major twist, is that Olympus could wait for DSLR transition-ers (usually enthusiasts, some professionals) to quietly add MFT to their collection of gear or move completely. It is not to say that once Nikon and Canon have viable FF Mirrorless that that rebel recruits who abandon the Dark Side and come to MFT will completely stop. Full Frame still remains Full Frame, the sizeable telephoto lenses will continue to be sizeable, less 20mm of flange distance. And you don’t have to lock into the high priced, big and heavy pro level MFT body to do street photography – the petite bodies like the Olympus OM-D E-M10 series or the Panasonic G-85 series are more than capable of tasks like that and more.

The Bottom Line is that the design leaders and marketers of Olympus and Panasonic need to fully understand what they have in their range (already MFT is in its fifth or sixth generation of refinement in contrast to even Sony, much less Nikon and Canon) and to excel at the virtues, deprecate the disadvantages.