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Editorial 336: Kumamoto capers

The consequences of the Kumamoto earthquake way back in April last year are reflected in several stories this week. The first is the release of full year production and shipment figures from the Japanese camera manufacturers association, CIPA.

What portion of the 32 percent of cameras not manufactured in 2016 compared to 2015 is attributable to a lack of sensor supply is probably unknowable. The sharp uptick in November and December after the Sony fabrication plant came back to full production indicates not all the resulting drop in camera sales was due to lack of demand. How many of those sales have been lost forever, rather than postponed, is also probably unknowable. 

Then there’s the ‘Notice of Extraordinary Loss’ from Nikon for the first three quarters of its financial year (April-Dec 2017), with camera and lens sales down by about a quarter on 2015 levels. The abandonment of the long-awaited DL series and disappointing results for the KeyMission range leave Nikon looking a little bruised and bloodied going into 2017. And if the bell is tolling for Nikon it tolls for the entire industry, given a business community is a kind of ecosystem. 

And then there’s lucky old Canon! Announcing its full year results CFO Toshio Tanaka said: ‘…In addition to growing sales of new DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, we benefitted from the shortage of parts that impacted our competitors. As a result, our unit sales increased 2 percent to 5.67 million units.’ 

With Canon determined to pursue a strategy of incremental divorce from the rest of the industry – offering third party accessories and now finance from its online store turns up the heat on retailers a few more notches – we need a strong Nikon, fully involved in the ecosystem, more than ever. This year could be make or break for Nikon’s camera business. Self-interest alone should motivate retailers to support the company in this, its centenary year.   
– Keith Shipton

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