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Re: Systems and Solutions? Just say no.

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Erich RolandRe: Systems and Solutions? Just say no.
by on Jul 27, 2009 at 12:56:29 pm

Mark, It would certainly be interesting to engage in these conversations with Panasonic designers or market strategist, but I suspect that won’t happen.

It seems a large portion of what that game is about is indeed “market strategy”. There is a chess game going on with these guys and they always have to be careful about what they’re next move may be, because if the rest of the world knew the next move the competition could cut them off in some way. So for them to openly engage in the conversation could tip a hand somehow.

The introduction of those “limited life span” P2 cards was a very interesting insight into how “market strategies” have become very important to Panasonic. Can you imagine there were probably many high level meetings to determine how long should they allow these cards to work before they would “pull the plug” on its life span!

Consumers have always suspected manufacturers built into products (like cars and such) this designed “life span failure” concept in order to sell you the next one. But I don’t remember this practice ever being quite so blatant. These cards should last a lot longer in normal usage. Whether or not anybody will care about a 32gb P2 card 5 years from now is another question.

I suspect if the Panasonic folks read these blog’s (and they should) it makes them a bit nervous, because as one guy said to me recently it’s like calling out that the “Emperor has no clothes” and attempting to get a look behind the curtain of what these companies are thinking about (or what they should be thinking about). Panasonic has been all over these boards in helping the consumer work through technical issues (to they’re credit) but I'd guess Panasonic doesn't much like seeing this particular conversation.

The problem (again) is the market is changing so fast and these big companies cant swing that fast. You need a few years to develop the next big move, then a year or so to design and tool up, get parts in the pipeline for repairs and service technicians up to speed, its very expensive. So then you need a few years of healthy sales to pay back on the design and build investment, and to then profit on top. This is all a total guestimate on my part. You can also look to the past at how long products lasted before the new model arrived as a rough gage to whats needed for a product cycle.

My question is... what if you make a huge bet (like this company has done with P2 products), and because of how fast things are changing it turns out it was a bad move? The cam-corder market is a “Transition Phase” and I don’t think anybody can tell us where the prevailing winds will be blowing 2-3-5 years from now. Given the product cycles needed for these big companies I’d guess that’s a HUGE issue, and challenge for them!

The big profits have always been in the 2/3” camera’s and the customers aren’t buying expensive camera’s right now (in big numbers) because I think we all understand these problems inherent in the current times. The small camera market is growing fast but the margins I’d guess are much tighter. The volumes have to be substantially higher to find the profits these big companies are used to. This (mini-cam) side of the market is getting much more competitive with DSLR’s coming on fast, Red’s Scarlet coming soon, and who knows what else coming to the growing mini camera market. Suffice to say, it will only get tougher for the big boys to grab a big share of that pie. They are not used to competitions coming from all angles. Also with mini-cams it’s a whole different market psychology (we are learning) and you really do have to keep up with the next guy, so faster product cycles decrease the profit margin on mini’s even more then the bigger cams.

Because of all these factors talked about in this thread, anybody who’s thinking about buying into these P2 Varicam’s better know where those jobs are going to come from to pay for it, because if you are thinking “Buy it, and the customer will come” .... may be in for a rude and expensive awakening!

Interesting times for sure.

Panasonic (if your listening), These large investments you'd like us to make (in 2/3") need protection designed in (not like your new P2 cards with "Death" built in). Deliver us what works best for our investment, otherwise we wont buy. Flexibility is the key factor for some years to come. Keep thinking this word "Transition", and design with this in mind.

Little cameras are another story, but if you want us to spend 30-50k on a full size camera, you need to figure out how to protect your customer FROM "planned obsolescence".... not deliver it. This shift to a 21st century strategy will bring you to market dominance, otherwise.....

Many thanks to Red for shinning a powerful light on this issue!


Peace, ER


Erich Roland
http://www.dc-camera.com
HD camera rentals, Washington DC
(and Cameraman)


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