Sony makes first loss in 14 years. Microsoft has its first down quarter ever. Unemployment is rampant and in the USA, the housing market is just now bottoming out.
This isn’t news. We’re stuck in a worldwide recession. The economy — to put it simply — sucks. We will come out of this. Things will turn around. They always do. But in the meantime, there will be casualties.
In other words, get ready to say goodbye to at least one well-known camera company.
A few years ago, we saw a shakeup of sorts. Well-known photo brands merged or disappeared, and I really thought the remaining camera and photo companies would be stronger as a result of those changes. But then the recession hit, and I fear there is more to come. The recent bankruptcy of Ritz is just one sign of things to come.
I believe that Canon and Nikon will survive. Canon is a much, much larger company than Nikon, and can better stand a long-term recession. But by all accounts, Nikon is strong enough to make it, provided this recession doesn’t get any worse AND drag on for an extraordinarily long period of time.
Some of the smaller camera companies may have to be acquired or merge to stay afloat. Luckily, most of the big names are tied to other electronics companies. If the camera brand lags behind, other products can help pull it safely over the finish line. There are however, companies with no big brother to lend a helping hand.
Do you think this is far-fetched? If you told me three years ago that Chrysler would file for bankruptcy, I would have laughed. But they did. Looking at what’s happened to Chrysler is instructive here. If you were a recent Chrysler buyer, are you worried about getting parts or warranty work? I would be. What if you bought a camera from XXXX company, and they failed? Who would honor the warranty? Long term, who would continue to make lenses, training materials and other accessories for a camera that’s no longer manufactured?
The point is that we all need to think carefully about this moving forward. I am rooting for all of these companies to survive. The industry I love depends on it. But there’s no doubt at least one will fail. It’s unavoidable.