Nikon slipping behind....

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by William D. Tallman, Feb 15, 2004.

  1. Well, I'm not sure I want to start yet another brand thread, but thought I'd
    share the following:

    Walked into the local camera shop today. The counterman silently shoves
    this piece of paper down the counter to me. It's printed on both sides;
    one side is the financial statement for the last year/quarter for Nikon,
    and the other side the same for Canon. Bottom line: Nikon - ; Canon +.

    He said that he's been following this for a while, and observed that Nikon
    has quietly been bleeding red ink for some time now. Then he opined that
    Nikon needs a "white knight", and mentioned Fuji as a good match. The next
    thought for both of us was: would that be Fujikon, or Niji? We both
    blurted this at the same moment, and cracked up laughing.... <grin>

    The conclusion that seems easy to draw is that Nikon's focus has been
    building quality cameras and lenses, such that they can stand up to
    professional use. And they seem to have done this without due thought to
    future technological advances, else they'd have been much more aggressive
    in competing with Canon's technology. From this, I've some thoughts:

    One of the primary drivers of product quality for the past couple of decades
    has been the advances in material science. Engineers in very many fields
    have watched this with glee, correctly anticipating that a hefty amount of
    engineering design that wasn't feasible for production would be made so by
    the coming availability of suitable materials. It can be observed that
    there has been an exceedingly short period of time between breakthrough
    advances and the use thereof in marketed product.

    The reason for this is that the engineers have long known almost entirely
    how to utilize these advances, both in terms of product and manufacturing
    process. Thus most firms have been able to move quickly to take advantage
    of this prepared ramp-up. I have to believe that this must have been true
    of both of these companies. So I have to assume that somehow Canon was
    able to win something at Nikon's expense, such that Nikon could not remain
    competitive. Wonder what that was?

    In any case, I've no brand loyalty here, and would as readily engage in
    collecting Nikon F bodies and selected lenses as I would those of other
    marques. If I had unlimited discretionary income, that is.... <grin>

    Now, lessee... Starting with Nikon, we would acquire all the manual focus
    F bodies, each with a complete range of accessories; the complete range of
    the S series rangefinders, perhaps doubling up on the SP for a user as
    well, and a range of the finest primes. As we will eschew autofocus, we
    will also eschew zooms....

    And then we can go to the head of the line, and continue with Leica. Not
    sure I really want to go that far back, but a pristine 3G with a range of
    lenses would be nice. Then we would collect at least one each of the M
    series, with attention paid to the magnification factor of the view finder
    where relevant...

    < walks off mumbling to self....> LOL!!!!

    Any thoughts?

    Bill Tallman
     
    William D. Tallman, Feb 15, 2004
    #1
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  2. William D. Tallman

    Bill Hilton Guest

    From: "William D. Tallman"
    What I've been told by contract pros working for both Nikon and Canon is that
    Canon is a much larger, more diversified company, so when one part of the
    business sags a bit another division keeps the profits flowing and they are
    able to invest more on research than Nikon. Also, this lets them leverage
    technology between various divisions better than Nikon.

    Dunno how true this is but that's what one hears from professional
    photographers.
     
    Bill Hilton, Feb 15, 2004
    #2
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  3. William D. Tallman

    Deathwalker Guest

    Canon do printers, flat bed scanners, photocopiers whereas nikon only does
    the photog stuff.

    Consequently canon have had a higher brand profile and advertsing budget.
    Seen a nikon advert tv advert lately?
     
    Deathwalker, Feb 15, 2004
    #3
  4. William D. Tallman

    Paolo Pizzi Guest

    Pure horse manure. The stepper division of Nikon has financial
    troubles, the camera division is booming. Should I care if Nikon
    drops the steppers?
     
    Paolo Pizzi, Feb 15, 2004
    #4
  5. William D. Tallman

    jriegle Guest

    In addition. Nikon makes microscopes and other optical medical equipment.
    I've seen their name in the vision business along with Hoya, Pentax and
    Zeiss. I think they make optical equipment for the electronics industry. I
    believe Canon does or did as well.

    Canon is also into professional video equipment. I recall having my eye
    checked a Canon device, but Nikon seems to have the much larger share of
    that business.
    John
     
    jriegle, Feb 15, 2004
    #5
  6. William D. Tallman

    Tony Spadaro Guest

    Canon is in so many areas of high tech that they are gaining new
    technologies from themselves. Thus they are able to turn a profit faster
    when something migrates from their scientific division to the commercial end
    of the business. The use of polycarbonates is only part of the story -
    although a big part. In one step Canon both improved camera bodies and made
    them lighter, and cheaper to manufacture.
    I doubt Nikon is going under, and there is already a strong connection
    to Fuji. THe two companies are part of the same cartel. I suspect the D70
    will improve Nikon's current standings, at least until Canon ups the ante --
    which I suspect will be before Photokina.
     
    Tony Spadaro, Feb 15, 2004
    #6
  7. What is pure horse manure? That Nikon is suffering from red ink? I doubt
    that the report was manufactured, though it could have been, I suppose.

    Their site does state that the stepper division's share of revenues has
    dropped from nearly half to less than 30%. Don't know exactly what that
    means, but it doesn't necessarily mean that the camera division is booming.
    It could only mean that the camera division has taken up the slack,
    although the instruments division seems to be holding steady.

    However...

    <snip>
    [Forbes Magazine; Nov 12, 2003]
    Nikon Corp down 1.27 percent at 1,480 yen after the camera maker on Tuesday
    posted a recurring loss of 515 million yen for the first half of the
    business year, hit by a higher yen and sluggish demand for its chip-making
    equipment and film cameras.

    So your explanation is plausible, but does not invalidate my post. And
    besides, I use only the purest aardvark droppings in my work!!

    Bill Tallman
     
    William D. Tallman, Feb 15, 2004
    #7
  8. William D. Tallman

    Paolo Pizzi Guest

    No, that it's going to influence the photography division.
    Have you tried to actually READ the financial report beyond the
    general figures? It's quite clear, the stepper division is what's troubling
    them, the photography division is enjoying a large increase in sales,
    which I predict this year will be a lot larger due to the introduction of
    the D70.
    Like I said, keep reading... :)
    Pardonnez moi! :)
     
    Paolo Pizzi, Feb 15, 2004
    #8
  9. William D. Tallman

    TP Guest


    Nikon also make optical equipment for the land surveying and
    construction sectors. Canon don't.
     
    TP, Feb 15, 2004
    #9
  10. William D. Tallman

    Mxsmanic Guest

    Did you go into the shop to look at cameras, or to discuss economics?
    People who place priority on quality and ruggedness continue to buy
    Nikons. Those who place priority on technology continue to buy Canon.
    It has been that way for decades. Nikon doesn't need to "compete with
    Canon's technology," because that's not what Nikon customers want (I
    certainly don't buy Nikons because I want the latest technology). And
    Canon doesn't have to care about ruggedness or quality, because its
    customers want mainly to have the latest technology. Both companies
    have their respective markets. I see no reason to expect that this will
    change in the foreseeable future.
    Leica is another point on the spectrum. Canon is at the technology end
    of the spectrum, with emphasis on the latest gadgets and advances, which
    take priority over build quality and product lifetimes. Nikon is in the
    middle, with a much more conservative approach, better build quality,
    longer product lifetimes, but a considerable lag in adopting the latest
    technologies (when it adopts them at all). Leica is at the furthest
    extreme of this conservative trend, with time-proven designs that do not
    change for decades, built to last for half a century or more, and almost
    no new technology at all, ever (except for optical advances).

    Each type of camera has its market. I prefer Nikon and Leica. To me,
    Nikon is almost dangerously avant-garde, and Leica is more reassuringly
    constant. Canon is not even in the running, as I had my fill of the
    perpetual upgrade cycle and cheap bells and whistles in the computer
    world, and I don't plan to repeat that experience in the photo world.

    The mass and non-professional market tends to be particularly impressed
    by bells and whistles, which is why Canon is consistently a winner from
    a business standpoint.
     
    Mxsmanic, Feb 15, 2004
    #10
  11. William D. Tallman

    Mxsmanic Guest

    Nikon is more diversified than it appears, but its other activities tend
    to be highly focused on professionals and specialists, too--it doesn't
    have too many mass-market consumer activities, unlike Canon.
     
    Mxsmanic, Feb 15, 2004
    #11
  12. William D. Tallman

    Lourens Smak Guest

    Nikon also is a (very) big player in the market of the machines that
    make microchips. (a lithographical/optical process like printing)
    That's a really big market with only a few companies. ASML from Holland
    the most well-known probably. (but that may be because I'm Dutch... )
    In fact, I think there's a patent-war going on at the moment between
    ASML and Nikon.

    Lourens
     
    Lourens Smak, Feb 15, 2004
    #12
  13. William D. Tallman

    Nick Zentena Guest


    Nikon's problems with digital camera sales are just the canary. Nokia is
    expected to offer a 4-5 meg phone camera with built-in zoom and flash by the
    end of 2005. Digital camera sales in Japan are already being hit hard by the
    shift to cell phones. It'll only get worse. Nikon,Canon,Pentax etc are all
    unlikely to be making consumer cameras five years out.

    Nick
     
    Nick Zentena, Feb 15, 2004
    #13
  14. William D. Tallman

    Nick Zentena Guest


    Nikon reported poor digital sales.

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Japan/FB11Dh03.html

    Nick
     
    Nick Zentena, Feb 15, 2004
    #14
  15. William D. Tallman

    Doug Payne Guest

    Financial statements from large corporations are notorious for being
    manipulated to suit some end.
     
    Doug Payne, Feb 15, 2004
    #15
  16. William D. Tallman

    Jerry L. Guest

    But the Bank of Japan (i.e., the Japanese government) will never allow
    Nikon to fold. Every company in Japan is allowed huge, low- or
    no-interest loans for the protection of the Japanese economy. Exports
    are highly rated by the government/banking industry in Japan....to let
    one company put another company out of business in Japan is not in the
    best interest of Japan. In the U.S. we have 'tariffs' for some
    industry protection: in Japan, the strong yen is the protection for
    many industries.

    Care to see which camera will last longer: a Canon 10D or a Nikon F5.


    Which will be obsolete sooner?

    = = =
     
    Jerry L., Feb 15, 2004
    #16
  17. William D. Tallman

    PSsquare Guest

    William,

    In the 80's I was technical leader for a precision optical product and had
    some dealings with both Canon and Nikon. Our technical and marketing team
    saw a big difference in the mindset of the two. It's Canon's approach to
    innovation that is key. As a result of what we saw, I am not surprised to
    see Canon moving forward relative to Nikon. Nikon is much more fixed in
    their ways and slow to see the value in innovations.

    FWIW, I have Nikon gear and am too established to spend the money changing.
    So, I am not some Canon owner promoting my own camera choice. My views are,
    I think, pretty objective.

    Canon has overcome many of the traditional Japanese barriers to change and I
    view them as an admirable company. The incorporation of aspheric lens
    elements in optical designs, ultra quiet motors for in lens focusing, and
    image stabilization are just three examples where Canon beat Nikon to the
    market. It has been widely shown that the first innovator to the market
    gets the lion's share of the prize. The rewards earned in the marketplace,
    the more money is available to fuel the next generation of change. Canon's
    approach to innovation also opens it to effectively widen their product
    field as they apply the same new ideas to a wider number of payoffs. So, as
    long as they keep up the superior innovation, the larger the gap to Nikon,
    Minolta etc.

    Canon is just plain better at seeing and developing innovations. They were
    also more honest in respecting our patents and paying royalties than any
    other company.

    PSsquare
     
    PSsquare, Feb 15, 2004
    #17
  18. William D. Tallman

    Bob Guest

    Nikon has to keep the steppers! BTW, what the heck are steppers?
     
    Bob, Feb 15, 2004
    #18
  19. William D. Tallman

    MG Guest

    "> >>You know, the last time I shot with a financial statement, either + or -, my
    pictures came out blurry, or maybe they did not come out at all. If you
    shoot financial statements, be sure that the debits are next to the windows
    so it may take some repositioning of subjects. I have found that a nice
    cash flow analysis added to the financial statement gives you just the right
    amount of apparent magnification to shoot wildlife without a converter.

    Damn, glad I never shot with an Enron or Worldcom or my pictures would be
    totally lost, no one would be ultimately responsible and there would be no
    recourse since the owners knew someone in high places. Now that Halliburton
    Reflex Digicam is doing great now with a rosy tint to the pictures, a
    battery which not only can tolerate overcharging, but loves it, and the
    pictures are guaranteed to be good since the possibility of anyone else
    developing them or supplying the software has been taken out of the
    inefficient bid process for vendors and suppliers. Yep, that Halliburton
    Reflex is an up and comer and you should see the advertisement where some
    Vice President slips by a smash shot into the corner while Agassi is not
    looking and without his Canon.

    MG
     
    MG, Feb 15, 2004
    #19
  20. William D. Tallman

    Alan Browne Guest

    Bob wrote:

    Used in the manufacture of semiconductors. Called "steppers" as the
    system moves the wafer under the lens and exposes it from a single mask
    'stepwise' to make copies of the exposure over the surface of the wafer.
    (eg, an 8 inch wafer will yield hundreds of semiconductor 'chips')

    Same as the printing term "step and repeat"

    Cheers,
    Alan
     
    Alan Browne, Feb 15, 2004
    #20
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