Is This the End for Canon and Nikon? Rival Predicts 50 Percent Market Share Loss Within Three Years

Is This the End for Canon and Nikon? Rival Predicts 50 Percent Market Share Loss Within Three Years

An “internal document” from Fujifilm has claimed that Canon and Nikon will lose 50 percent of their market share within three years, while Fujifilm’s market share will climb during the same period.

There are a number of interesting points to come out of this. Firstly, the source is the Fuji Rumors website, so it’s nothing but a rumor right now, as the article's author clearly states. Secondly, I find it curious that there’s no direct link to the actual “internal document” anywhere. It’s hard to cast an unbiased eye over the prediction if we can’t actually see it. Perhaps it’s in Japanese, but I’m sure there are many bilingual people out there.

Further, having lived in Japan for 15 years, it’s not often I see Japanese companies make such bold predictions about direct rivals. It simply isn’t their way. Perhaps the “internal document” came from international offices, but as we have no link to it, we simply don’t know.

Finally, the implication is that Canon’s and Nikon’s tardiness in entering the mirrorless market will be the catalyst for such a dramatic fall. Personally, I just can’t see it. As a Canon user for over 15 years, waiting another year or so for a high-end Canon mirrorless system to hit the market is of no great concern to me. My Canon 5D Mark IV is doing a perfect job for me now and I’ve never been busier, or happier with my work.

Perhaps Sony or Fuji may be at the forefront of the mirrorless market now, but I have no doubt the likes of Canon and Nikon will pretty quickly catch up when they do eventually jump on board, albeit a bit late. In the meantime, I’m happy to wait and watch.

But predicting a 50 percent market loss for the two giants within three years? It’s a big call. What do you think? And if you’re a Canon or Nikon owner, are you going to make the switch to a mirrorless system with another brand soon or just wait until a mirrorless system from Canon or Nikon becomes available?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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94 Comments

Vincent Alongi's picture

First to market isn't always the most successful. Well documented that those who are later benefit from the competition's R&D, market reactions, etc. I find the whole nonsense of ripping Nikon for being "late to the game" on mirrorless to be... nonsense. Nothing more than knee-jerk reaction from those who look at innovation or evolution as a forty-yard dash.

I'd rather have someone enter a space later rather than first. I personally don't care to be an early adapter and want my money to go toward a more refined product. As well, I'm sure Nikon has hired some people who already have experience in developing mirrorless technology. It's just smart business.

Jeff Gillisroy's picture

Everything you said is perfectly valid for 2013. The trouble is that Fuji, Sony and others are already several iterations into their products.

From living in Japan in 15 years one thing I know is that they know how to use and refine with the best of them. I'm sure the people at Canon, Nikon etc etc won't be so far behind Sony when they enter the market, regardless of how many iterations in Sony are.

Drew Morris's picture

I just have a hard time believing there is that kind of denand for mirrorless cameras, enough to erode that kind of market share. There are many fantastic benefits that mirrorless bring to the table but people after quality and performance are still going to stick with systems that are proven tried and true. Some undoubtedly will be swayed by size and certain features but all in all, it's the phones most people will choose as they have done for years now.

Agree with everything you said except the last sentence. Yes, phones are most prevalent in everyone's pockets, but I don't think tghere's any real argument that a phone can do what a DSLR/mirrorless system can, especially for professionals or those making an income from their passions.

Funnily enough Vincent, I did my Ph.D on the patterns of technology adoption (albeit in the education field). There are pluses and minuses on both sides but in the case of Canon/Nikon/Sony/mirrorless, I don't think there's any massive, gamechanging upside for those who have jumped to mirrorless.

That's not to say mirrorless systems aren't great (I don't own one so I don't know), but I'm sure long-time users of Canon and Nikon aren't THAT fussed that they don't own a mirrorless system right now. If it was like going from a black and white TV to a flat screen HD color TV, then sure, it's a no-brainer. But it isn't, so......

I'm happy to wait for Canon to do its thing, and I'm sure most Nikon users feel the same.

I'm not too familiar with the Fuji products, but have more knowledge of what Sony has done. Sony has done a great job with their newest mirrorless cameras. But, it's all about what one has already invested in for many of us. And that points (in my case) to all of the Canon lenses, speedlights, speedlight triggers and other Canon accessories that would have to be repurchased in a brand switch.

If Canon's upcoming mirrorless offering required a switch in lenses in order to use their newest cameras, then many of us are open to looking at other brands for our next body purchase. But, Canon (and Nikon) is well aware of this and I'm sure will find a way to make EF lenses compatible with their new offerings.

The only way I can see a "system" supplier loosing 50% market share in 3 years would be if they move to another system that renders their previous products incompatible.

Jeff Gillisroy's picture

Uhhhh...is there even baseless speculation that the Nikon and Canon's mirrorless offerings will allow you to us their legacy lenses? I thought it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that they'd be firing up new lens lines.

Surely they couldn't be so crazy?

Why would it be crazy, a new lens system is pretty much a given. Will there be an adapter for legacy lenses? Sure, but if you want all the benefits of the new system, you will have to buy new lenses. And you can also bet that the legacy lenses are not going to be updated for much longer. You have to make the switch sooner or later. It's not a question of if but when. Making a complete system change is just as valid.

If that's the case then I think it would be a massive gamble that I reckon will backfire horribly. It would be asking (demanding) all loyal, long-time users of Canon/Nikon to basically kiss goodbye to $1000s upon $1,000s upon $1,000s of money invested over years and years. All for a completely new, unproven system?

In that scenario, I think a huge part of the Canon/Nikon photography community would be furious, and likely say "sayonara" to them both, and head for Sony or Fuji, who have runs on the board in mirrorless system R&D.

I'll be perfectly honest and say I never even contemplated them not coming up with suitable R&D so that legacy lenses could still be used seamlessly. Perhaps naive, but the consequences of not doing so surely must have been considered...?

While you test out the new system, you can still use your existing lenses with the adapter. There's no requirement for you to buy new lenses, so you can keep using them as long as you want. Forever, if need be.

But again, if you want all the advantages of the new system, buy new lenses. That's perfectly reasonable. You could even mix the two, some new ones and some old ones with the adapter. I don't see that a long-time user would necessarily have to get rid of all their gear. Just sell the glass that would natively be better on the new system. It potentially pays for most of that new lens.

Surely they wouldn't be so mad as to ask current users to invest in a whole new lens range. That'd be pretty much asking everyone to go back to square one and start from scratch. People would jump ship at the sheer audacity I'd imagine. I'm in the Canon boat too.

Anonymous's picture

Given their current user base, I find it highly unlikely that those companies will lose that kind of market share within that timeframe. Dumping the eco-system you're bought into is a big deal and I don't think mirrorless is so different from DSLR yet that such a huge number of people would make that jump—especially with Canon and Nikon coming out with their own mirrorless offerings in the near future. In a decade with continually bad business practices, perhaps. But three years? That's an absurd timeline.

Jeff Gillisroy's picture

Your second sentence directly undercuts itself.

Drew Morris's picture

Why are you so invested in this thread my friend? Buyer's remorse?

Anonymous's picture

How so? Swapping eco-systems is a big deal because it's going to cost you a significant amount of money unless you magically find someone willing to trade you bodies and lenses in a completely even exchange. You're likely going to be selling your current gear at a net loss and incurring the cost of purchasing brand new equipment for full price. I really don't think that mirrorless technology offers such a difference that so many people are going to decide that this cost is worth it in the short term.

In the long term, I believe that mirrorless cameras will eventually replace DSLR's much like SLR cameras largely replaced rangefinders. I also believe that for the average person just starting out who does not yet have any money invested, buying into a mirrorless system is a better choice than getting into a DSLR system. Of course, there will always be a contingent of people loyal to the technology (just like there are still die-hard rangefinder users), but it's pretty clear where the market is going. To say that that the market is going to shift that much within three years, however, is just silly talk.

Yeah agree with everything you say. I've invested a lot of time, money and love into my gear with Canon, and I'm sure Nikon users will say the same. I have no need or desire to jump to a mirrorless system with Sony now, coz I really don't see that much upside.

But asking people to start completely afresh would be madness, which is why I can't believe some people are suggesting Canon's/Nikon's current lenses won't be applicable/usable for any mirrorless systems they might release.

Pieter Batenburg's picture

History has proved time and again that new technologies can be disruptive and ca n kake large companies fail. Ever hea rd of Kodak?

Kirk Darling's picture

Kodak is not a fruitful example of this situation. Kodak's business had always been film and film processing itself, not cameras. Kodak had never been solidly in the camera business except as a way to sell more film. The "disruption" was the market abandonment of Kodak's essential product.

That is not the same thing Nikon and Canon are facing. As has been mentioned, mirrorless cameras are no more a disruptive technology than SLRs were in 1950. Neither Nikon nor Canon was marketing an SLR in 1950. The company that was producing SLRs--Exacta--had a 20-year head start on them. Heck, Canon and Nikon hadn't even cracked the world market in 1950.

Nikon had a 15-year head start on Canon for a professional SLR system. Minolta had a 3-year head start on both Nikon and Canon for a decent auto-focusing system.

Such things are not "disruptive technologies."

Pieter Batenburg's picture

Digital photography is not disruptive to a manufacturer that sells films? Really?

Kirk Darling's picture

You probably need to re-read my post.

Pieter Batenburg's picture

I see what you mean. But still, don't ever think that succesfull companies can't or won't fail in changing times.

Kirk Darling's picture

Didn't say that, did I? You must be debating someone else.

Jeff Gillisroy's picture

Wasn't the technology is Kodak's case. Kodak was there with digital at ours infancy...and then they pulled a Xerox.

Kirk Darling's picture

Kodak was "there" with digital earlier than most people outside certain areas of the US federal government know. But digital was only a division, not the core of the company.

Anonymous's picture

True, but more often than not those cases involve a large company that willfully ignores the direction of the market for a prolonged period of time. Canon and Nikon are certainly late to the mirrorless game, but it's already clear that they are investing in it.

Also, it's a bit ironic, but Kodak happened to be one of the pioneers of digital photography.

On a side note, I think it's also important to point out that there are companies with intensely loyal followings that do just fine producing niche products. Leica would be a good example of this.

Ted McDonald's picture

If these companies go away it's going to be because they've focused too much on the product and forgot about the customer experience. It's a balance of being cutting edge tech and customer experience. Sony has deep pockets and has other divisions to carry their bleeding edge R&D dept and that's okay because it's advancing tech and good for the consumer.

If Nikon comes out with a pro-level mirrorless that's not adaptable to their current pro lens mounts? I'll switch to Sony. As long as they don't get stupid (knowing better and doing something anyway) they'll be okay. Canon has great customer service, sales reps, and great lenses.

Let Sony blaze the trail and develop cutting-edge tech with their deep pockets. I hope that Canon and Nikon don't wait for 5 Sony camera versions of development before deciding that a 5-axis image sensor stabilization is probably something they should possibly start looking into. That's what's going to hurt them. What does the consumer want at the end of the day? Value, trust, and ease.

thomas Palmer's picture

It's not because a technology has been researched that it becomes cheaper for other brands. Making a supply chain, algorithms and having a big park of native lenses takes time and cannot be reverse engineered. The funny thing is that with other brands having to build a new mount, it's now Sony that will have the most native lenses.

Also if Canon/nikon shooters break their camera this year, will they jump ship now or re-buy and wait ?

Anonymous's picture

OEM adapters should make the issue of native vs. non-native lenses moot. The problem with non-native lenses was the fact that we were always reliant on third parties to trying get things to work via reverse engineering. There should be no difference in performance of a Nikon or Canon DSLR lens mounted on their respective mirrorless bodies using an OEM adapter vs. mounting them on a DSLR.

As for me, if my camera broke this year I would probably still stick with Nikon because I have a decent amount invested in lenses and accessories. If Nikon releases their mirrorless camera and their OEM adapter, for some reason, has performance issues, that's when I would probably consider a move away because up until proven otherwise, I'm running under the assumption that an OEM adapter will allow me to continue using my current lenses on a potential mirrorless body without any sacrifices in performance.

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