Market Share Distortion, Part Two

Not long after I published part one of this article, Nikkei published their analysis of 2017 market shares for electronics products, including interchangeable lens cameras (the report is labeled 2018, but it's backwards looking to the previous year as far as I can tell):

  • Canon 49.1%
  • Nikon 24.9%
  • Sony 13.3%
  • Other 12.7%

I see lots of folk trumpeting the Canon/Nikon "wins" (their definition of wins, not mine), and Sony's still distant third place. But all is not as it at first seems. DSLRs made up about 65% of the total ILC sales last year, while mirrorless was about 35%. 

Sony was near completely mirrorless in 2017—what few SLT sales they still had were so small as to be not easily counted—so that 13.3% really was likely near 38% of the mirrorless market sales. The "other" companies other than Pentax were also completely in mirrorless, too, probably eating another 25-35% of mirrorless market share.

Nikon, meanwhile, certainly got almost all of their 24.9% in Nikkei's report from the 65% DSLR piece of the ILC pie, or about also about 38% of the market they strongly participate in. Only Canon (successfully) straddled both forms of ILC cameras, with a majority of the DSLR piece and probably a close second in the mirrorless piece. 

Thus, we're about to enter an interesting period, and one that's going to be tough on Sony. Nikon now wants a piece of that mirrorless pie. That has to come from somewhere. Thus my previous point about Sony not going to have 100% market share for full frame mirrorless. Sony, meanwhile, has given up on getting a piece of the DSLR pie. Indeed, Sony's full frame market share will almost certainly go down in the future (DSLR+mirrorless). 

Sony's not going to go down without fighting, though. One of the things they whispered to the financial press in Tokyo around their quarterly financials was that they expect to increase their revenue from full frame in the current fiscal year (and more interestingly, decrease the APS-C revenue). 

Nikkei's numbers are units. Sony has long been trumpeting their "wins" using "value" (or total dollar sales). Sony's big full frame push with little APS-C action was clearly planned. Sony is going upscale in cameras, rapidly. One should probably expect an A6700 rather than an A5300 as the next APS-C camera, therefore. And I doubt the A9 will remain single for long. 

Clearly Nikon seems to be doing the same thing (going upscale, despite the implications of lower market share). Thus, we're going to have exactly what we should all want: real competition in serious mirrorless cameras. That can only benefit all of us, no matter what your mount choice ultimately is. 

Meanwhile, CIPA has released shipment numbers for the first half of 2018. Mirrorless hit exactly half of the trailing year number. I take that to mean that we're on track for a 4 to 4.1m unit volume, much like last year. DSLR sales, meanwhile, aren't dropping dramatically, running only a few percent below last year so far, though the trailing number path shows them still in decline. The flatness of the mirrorless market and the lower decline of DSLR now shows the point where the two are equal in sales in my model to be sometime in early 2021. (Disclosure: that model doesn't currently project Canon/Nikon both having full APS-C and full frame mirrorless product lines any time soon. I need some data after that happens to predict how much the DSLR decline might accelerate, if it does. And note that this would merely be the parity point for mirrorless/DSLRs, not the "death" of DSLRs.)

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