photoblogography - Just some stuff about photography

Olympus and market share

in Olympus E-System , Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The anoraks over at DPReview's Olympus forum have gone into righteous outrage mode over a recent article by veteran commentator Thom Hogan, who, one would assume from said outrage, had compared Olympus' new E-3 with the spawn of Satan. So what was this provocative article all about ? Well, in fact, it was a well reasoned outsider analysis of Olympus' declared ambition to grab 20% of the DSLR market. Hogan (correctly, in my opinion) describes this as "dreaming", pointing out that the only realistic way Olympus would make up the 12 to 14% shortfall they need to meet their target would be to steal it from Canon. Are the likely to do this ? Well, one would hope that even the most blinkered zealot would be forced to answer "probably not". However good the current Olympus range is - and it is good enough for me - it would have be near miraculous to overturn Canon's inertia in the market, even if Canon's offering was poor, which it clearly is not. Does it actually matter, to an Olympus customer who just wants to take photos ? I would say only if Olympus' market share were to drop so far that their position would be untenable, and that seems equally unlikely. Sure, people with an investment in the E-System want it to stick around, and the anoraks in particular want new toys to buy every few months, to make measurements with. But whatever, the E-System won't be around forever. Probably neither will Canon's EOS. Nothing lasts forever, but I doubt that Olympus is going to exit the market tomorrow, and even if they did, the cameras and lenses are not going to stop working. However, if you really want future proofing, it is undeniable that Nikon has by far the best record in the SLR market, with Pentax and Leica not too far behind. But did Hogan, a Nikon fan, point that out ? Nope. He said that the E-510 and E-3 are nice cameras, but they're not going to provoke a cataclysmic shift in the market. A view worthy of derogation, scorn, and insults ? Apparently so. Thank God for the Internet...

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