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| p.2 #14 · Camera producers death spiral |
The reason prices are high on new gear is there are too many people with more money than common sense...and the big companies know it and release products at prices these customers willingly pay.
No doubt this an aspect of it. As is the frequency of product refreshes.
But maybe these companies also recognize the trend towards phone-cameras and the likelihood that higher profit areas, such as DLSRs and lens sales will eventually significantly decrease as a consequence.
Higher current prices may be an attempt to get all they can now, but also an anticipation of, and a gradual easing into a future with much lower volume, when production costs per unit will be higher and manufacturers will have no choice but to try to raise prices further, assuming there are still customers who want to buy top-end gear.
As an example, I'm thinking of Canon's new super-tele lenses, all of which are in the range of 40-50% higher prices than the previous generation (at time of discontinuation). I'm sure there are a number of factors - USD-Yen rate, cost of materials, R&D costs, production issues (earthquake/tsunami)... but also changes in the market. After a decade of 'bargain' super-tele prices, the user base is pretty saturated. Meanwhile, certain industries, such as news, which were always big spenders on top end gear, are hurting. Budgets are reduced, staffing is lower, lower end gear is 'good enough' in many cases... As a result, fewer buyers and lower sales from those buyers. Though anecdotal, what I see on sports sidelines at 'average' pro league events covered by freelancers and daily news photographers (as opposed to world elite events where the representation is skewed), is an abundance of older gear and a very small percentage of current generation super-teles. Everyone still uses DSLRs at these events, but give the technology a few years, and maybe it will be m43 instead, or some other CSC, where a 200/2.8 will be good enough and the need for a $10K 400/2.8 will be further reduced.
For Canikon to continue offering increasingly specialized, low volume equipment, prices will increase further.