Two days of photokina 2018 are over and I use the 3rd morning for a quick personal review. Where does the camera industry stand today and what are the future directions and steps?
I’ve seen many new products at photokina, many brands are fighting in a declining market for customer attention. Within the last ten years there wasn’t no photokina with such a wide range of new full frame cameras announced. Canon, Nikon, Panasonic and Sigma are new players in the mirrorless full frame segment and have at least announced new flagship products for the near future. These new products will drive the market for next two to three years because it is very likely that all existing DSLR customers will sooner or later replace their complete equipment by the new technology. Literary, they will pump a lot of money into this sector and the market will get a little lift by that.
It seems obvious, that in this situation the most important question for a marketeer should be: How can we attract new customers from other brands? How can we get a bigger piece of that cake? How can we win that race? The time is now to pull every string and show what makes your advantage, your product benefit and what your brand stand for.
The mirrorless age seems to mark the end of a long digital transformation process within the camera industry. In my eyes the camera systems are now 100% digital, but just from the hardware point of view. Every human interaction with the camera is digital, everything you look or touch like screens, display, wheels, dials and viewfinder are digital. Photokina 2018 shows that this is the new standard in the market.
Where does this leads to? A question which you might answer easily by looking at other industries which has been through the digital transformation already. Looking at smartphones you will agree that to a certain extend they pretty much have a common form-factor, common user interfaces, designs, graphics and even prices. The main differences are software based technologies and services. iOS versus Android to mention the most obvious one. Customers are seeking for an experience, an inspiration not only for a simply tool to do the job.
Creating advantages by software for interaction, interfaces and inter-device workflows – that is what counts today and drive customer satisfaction. Cloud based services are widely used and integrated into our daily life. Cameras – are so far – extremely isolated from this world. As a personal example, within my household my lamps in my living room have a higher grade of connectivity than my super professional camera system.
The camera industry has a lot to learn and to do with in the next years. The hardware transformation seems completed but the digital transformation will decide which manufacture will survive and dominate the next years.
About the Author: Almost two decades of experience in the photo/camera industry, former product manager for the Leica SL system, Steffen Skopp works today as a free consultant to help companies to get a clear sight about their business situation and future changes.