Claims to Remember

From time to time, the Japanese companies, those following them, the press, noted photographers, and a few prominent fan boys make claims about future sales or prospects. I like Jon Gruber's way of dealing with this, which he calls Claim Chowder. So I'm tracking statements that are made in the media and see how they fare against reality.

Latest statements on top, earlier ones below:

  • "Number of GFX customers is overwhelmingly increasing." Fujifilm executives in phileweb interview June 2021.
  • "5G will be one of the major changes in the future." Fujifilm executives in phileweb interview June 2021.
  • "Don’t panic. As far as we are concerned it is business as usual. Businesses change hands and flourish, so there's no reason this won’t be the case here." Olympus UK Marketing Brand Manager Mark Thackara, in interview with Amateur Photographer magazine, July 2020.
  • "Shipments of interchange lens cameras [in 2019] are projected to be 10m units, a year on year fall of 7.4%" --CIPA press release February 1, 2019 Busted. Actual shipments were 8.46m
  • "Camera market will shrink another 50% over the next two years." --Canon Fujio Mitarai in Nikkei interview January 2019. Turns out that he was right, though not for the reasons he thought.
  • "We don't expect the ILC market will drop by half." --Nikon Takami Tsuchida at 2019 CP+. 
  • "The [ILC] market will be less than 80% compared to now. But not half." --Sony Kenji Tanaka in Imaging-Resource interview at 2019 CP+.
  • "In a two to five years time range we expect the ILC market will shrink to some extent." Nikon Takami Tsuchida in Imaging-Resource interview at 2019 CP+.
  • "I think full frame can probably reach 70-80mp" --Fujifilm GM Toshi Iida in 2019 CP+ interview.
  • "I want to grow the Z series [mirrorless] and D series [DSLRs] at the same time." -- Nikon in dpreview interview at 2019 CP+.
  • "Our goal is to become number one in the full-frame market for both mirrorless and DSLRs." -- Nikon in dpreview interview at Photokina 2018.
  • Fujifilm will "never" enter the full-frame market. --Toshihisa Iida, Fujifilm GM to dpreview at Photokina 2018.
  • Sony had number 1 share in global full frame market in both amount and units for 1H 2018. --Sony's Tanaka-san at Photokina 2018 press conference. This was true in the US, but it is unverifiable for the global market.
  • Sony had the number 1 share in global mirrorless cameras in both amount and units for all the years 2010 through 2017. --Sony's Tanaka-san at Photokina 2018 press conference. Also not verifiable. 
  • "We aim to become #1 in the full frame mirrorless camera market" --Gokyu-san at Z series launch August 23, 2018, and again at Photokina press conference
  • Nikon's 1 System (it's not dead, it's just sleeping...) “, Barney Britton, dpreview, April 8, 2018. Sorry, Barney, it's dead, and it was dead when you wrote that. Barney has since updated his thoughts (September 17, 2018) to say it's dead.
  • “It’s time to enhance [and grow] the imaging business and catch up in terms of market share.“ Shigemi Sugimoto, Head of Olympus's imaging business unit talking to dpreview at CP+ 2018 (March) Not happening, indeed, market share slipped dramatically in 2018.
  • "Canon and Nikon will join Sony in the full-frame mirrorless space within a year. “ --Sony's Kenji Tanaka at CP+ 2018 (March; dpreview interview) Proven correct.
  • “Probably, In two years’ time, the size of the mirrorless market will exceed the market for DSLRs globally.”  Toshihisa Iida, Fujifilm, in an interview with dpreview at Photokina 2016. Busted: didn't happen. By value mirrorless hit 91%, by units it hit 63%.
  • “We’d like to be at least in the top three companies in the camera business by market share [by 2021]” Toru Takahashi, Fujifilm in an interview with dpreview at CES January 2016. Busted: didn't happen. Top three companies at the end of 2020 were Canon, Nikon, and Sony.
  • Sony A6000 was best selling mirrorless camera of all time, and best selling digital interchangeable lens camera of all time. Sony marketing at A6300 launch.

Older statements:

  • 12% Market Share in ILC, “Number 1 in mirrorless”. Sony 2016 forecast. The 12% figure has been verified, the #1 in mirrorless is questioned by some and impossible to verify with Sony’s provided figures.
  • Olympus Draft Plan May 2012. Claim: 30% increase in sales by March 2017 (1.1 trillion yen). Comment: 30% in five years is less than 6% increase a year. Current Olympus forecast: no increase at all, but a decrease instead.
  • Pro photographer Trey Ratcliff in Twit Photo Episode 54. Claim "I don't see myself using a giant D800 camera in three to four years [2015 to 2016].” Trey switched to a Sony mirrorless not long after saying that.
  • IDC April 2012. Claims: "DSLRs will increase to 16.76m units sold in 2012." "Mirrorless cameras will increase to 6.43m units sold in 2012." Busted: shipments from manufacturers only hit 3.96m in 2012 for mirrorless (DSLRs came close at 16.2m). 
  • Olympus June 2012 Management Plan. Claims: 149b yen (FY end 2013), 160b yen (FY end 2014), 170b yen (FY end 2015). 180% increase mirrorless unit volume by 2017. 70% increase high-end compact unit volume by 2017. Unit volume of 7.5m total in 2017. "Strive to achieve profitability in FY end 2013." Last part busted! Didn't achieve profitability in FY just ended. Double busted! Didn’t meet FY2014 claims. Triple Busted! Not meeting 2017 goals.
  • Panasonic "Mirrorless Trend" in G5 announcement. 2010=1.4m units, 2011=3.1m units, 2012=6m estimated units, 2013=8.4m estimated units, 2014=10.6m units, 2015=12.2m units and mirrorless overtakes DSLR sales. Busted! Actual number for 2012 was 3.96m units, new estimate for 2013 is 4.9m units.
  • CIPA mirrorless estimate for 2013: 4.9m units. Busted! Actual units were 3.3m. 
  • Canon Re-Forecast of Sales at EOS M announcement: 21m instead of 22m of compact cameras, but still 9.2m interchangeable lens cameras for 2012. 
  • Canon interview in DC Watch: goal to reach 15% of mirrorless market share in Japan by October 2012. (Given the release date of the camera, that actually translates into "we expect an instant 15% market share") Busted! The preliminary number for 2012 in Japan turned out to be 2.1% market share for the EOS M. But…they did get to that number in 2016.
  • Impress Digital Camera magazine prediction for 2013: 75% chance of a Nikon V3. Only a few months off.
  • "I have no hesitation, in my mind and in my business direction, that in the future—whether it’s three years or five years out—that there will be three dominant imaging companies on a global basis and it will be Canon, Nikon, and Pentax/Ricoh." Pentax Executive Vice President Jim Malcolm, in interview with Busted. The three were Canon, Nikon, and Sony. 
  • Canon 2012 Annual Report: "The market for interchangeable lens digital cameras is expected to grow around 10% annually for the foreseeable future." Busted. Canon now saying interchangeable lens forecasts are down significantly.
  • 24/7 Wall Street (Yahoo Finance): Olympus will get out of cameras by the end of 2014. Busted. Didn’t happen.
  • Olympus Ogawa-san to June 2013: "This fiscal year Olympus aims to boost mirrorless-camera sales by 20% to 730,000 units. The break-even point is sales of 1 million units, and...the goal is to reach that level in the year to March 2015 and restore the company to the black." Busted. new forecast only four months later: 660,000 units, and they will have to increase sales significantly in 2H because they only sold 250,000 in the first half of the year. Last year's sales were 590,000 units, so if Olympus hits their new forecast number, they'd have grown their mirrorless sales by 12%, not the 20% Ogawa-san claimed. Double busted! Final year results were 510,000 units [source Credit Suisse], down from last year. 
  • Nikon Makoto Kimura talking to Bloomberg 7/8/2013: compact market shrinks 12% in 2013, interchangeable gains 8% in 2013. Busted. Compacts down 41%, DSLRs down 15%, mirrorless down 16.5%.
  • Sasa-san at Olympus conference call Q2/2013: Pen series generates steady 200k units per half year (400k year). E-M1 expected to sell 100k units in second half of year. 6051 employees in Imaging. Haven't considered selling the camera business (actual quote "no approaches have been made.").
  • Sasa-san in Bloomberg article in December 2013: 1m m4/3 sales as early as April 14-April 15 fiscal year, 7b in profit for division, 5% market share in interchangeable lens cameras. Busted by Sasa-san himself in another interview with Bloomberg five months later (see below).
  • Sasa-san in Bloomberg article in May 2014: Profitable in cameras in year ending March 2016 (5b yen), but unprofitable in current year ending March 2015 (-3.5b yen). 630k m4/3 units this year, 24% increase; 1m compact cameras this year, 63% decrease. 2015 numbers busted. 510k units and -7.5b yen loss.
  • Olympus fiscal year forecast made May 2015: no profit or loss in coming year in Imaging (in context, this is the fifth year in a row they’ve indicated a future no loss point, and they’ve missed four of them). Busted: -2.1b yen loss.
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