How better technologies fail

Mirrorless cameras are cheaper and lighter and can be as performant as DSRL cameras, and yet they are having a hard time to win the market. Credit:

Innovation is a complex beast with several facets (and components). Researchers believe in a perfect world where the best technology will prevail, and of course "best" stands for the most performant one. Only a few would go as far as to acknowledge that "cost" is also of of the parameters to evaluate when looking for "best".

However, sometimes you can have a "best" technology (with best taking into account the cost factor) and still you see it failing in the marketplace.

This has been the case in the past (see SED vs LCD, or Beta vs VHS) and it might well be the case for the mirror less digital camera, a significant technology advance introduced in 2004 by Epson and brought to the market in a forceful way by Panasonic and Olympus since 2008. And yet, after ten years there are more clouds on the horizon than ever.

The mirror less cameras have been taken in the downsizing of the digital cameras market, it decreased by 40% in 2013 and that has shrunk the investment thus leading to slower increase in performances that further depressed the market (see my previous posts on Innovation).

The growth in smart phones, and in cell phone market in general, has put a digital camera in the hands of most people in the world and has also created the interest in sharing, over the air, the pictures. Because of this a digital camera is less useful than a smart phones to many people, and in the end it is also a not needed duplication.

Point and shoot cameras are rapidly sinking and fading out of the market. Big DSRL still have a grip on professional photographers and on advanced amateur for their "bulky" flexibility. There is also a bit of haughtiness in many (myself included) who tend to consider a photo taken by a smartphone as second tier photography.

Hence the vice squeezing the mirror less cameras. Not good enough for dedicated photographers and useless for most people who rather stick to their cell phone. 

This squeeze further compress investment and drain the little life blood left on them.

More and more market factors are influencing Innovation and Innovators have to be ever more market savvy, rather than technology savvy. I am saying this against my desire, since I am rooted in technology evolution.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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