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What Should Fujifilm do to Survive the Final Digital Camera Battle?


This blog post has been inspired by the latest “Fujifilm helps Nikon” rumors shared by the reputable Japanese Magazine Sentaku.

Who Struggles?

People, who are with Fujifilm since day 1 (like me, and I guess also many of you), will remember that for many years, the X-series was nothing but a black hole for Fujifilm. The imaging division was losing money. But starting from the X-T1, things have changed and the figures became more and more positive.

But while Fujifilm was growing and finally making profits, many other companies (like Nikon) were struggling. Here is just a little overview

  • Samsung is gone, despite them offering a gorgeous camera like the Samsung NX1.
  • Nikon reported extraordinary losses. I quote from the Nikon Report: “[…] consolidated operating income as a whole is expected to fall below the previous forecast, impacted by the sluggish and shrinking markets of digital cameras in the Imaging Products Business”
  • Panasonic said they are “dismantling” some businesses and later clarified that they are restructuring the camera division, which will continue to operate under the new umbrella division.
  • Lytro tried hard, but failed, even though they had an interesting concept.
  • Pentax/Ricoh, so say the rumors, is struggling too.
  • Hasselblad, was bought by the Chinese DJI

Competition & Monopolies

A few days ago, I was sitting with a friend, who teaches economics at the University, drinking a beer in the sun after work, and we were talking about cameras, since he wants to switch to mirrorless now (we all get older and appreciate lighter gear at a certain point :) ).

Of course I recommended him Fujifilm (the Fujifilm X-T20), but I honestly told him, that there is so much competition in the camera business, that all companies are pushing innovation and quality to such a high level, that he can’t do anything wrong even if he buys any other mirrorless camera.

At the end it depends on what he needs. I told him that if he wants an overheating playstation experience, get a Sony, but if he wants to have fun with a real photographic tool, he should get a Fuji – just kidding, Sony friends :) .

Anyway, our talk then switched to the topic of competition.

In short: my buddy told me that, at the end, competition always tends to create monopolies. I wouldn’t say it like in Highlander, that “there can be only one“, but yes, many will fail, and only the very best will survive.

And if my buddy is right, we should not be surprised to see more camera companies fail in the next 3 or 4 years or weak companies being acquired (completely or in parts) by some stronger ones. That’s how the market goes.

One thing is sure:

The final digital camera battle has begun, and it’s clear that some companies will perish and others will survive, in a market that is overall becoming smaller every year.

So the question today is….

… what should Fujifilm do in order to survive the battle? Are they on the right track already, or is there still something they should absolutely improve? You know they read us… so feel free to let Fujifilm know, what you think they should do to survive the digital camera battle.