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Andrew Reid

Now mirrorless is a raging success. Samsung will be back

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I looked at the timeline of the NX platform and it was seriously short lived... 4 years, then they pulled the plug.

This was 2010-2014 and so it was before Sony released the A7R II and more.

Even Canon are now saying the mirrorless market is accelerating and they want in.

Samsung will be back.

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I dont see it myself. The numbers dont really add up. The digital camera market (ILC/compacts) is a US$10bn a year market of which Canon/Nikon/Sony hold 85%. If Samsung re-entered the market and we heroically optimistically assumed they gained a 10% share - it would only amount to US$1bn a year - less than 0.5% of Samsungs US$200bn+ annual sales. Compare that to the US$500bn a year smartphone industry.

However there are, I think, two 'possibilities that could bring Samsung back into the market.

First, Samsung and Nikon are almost a 'perfect' fit. Samsung key competencies are electronics and Nikon's core competency is photography - ideal when cameras are turning into electronic products. Samsung brings image sensors, image processing, lcds etc and Nikon brings lenses, brand, market share and distribution. Furthermore, Nikon is ultimately going to be seriously disadvantaged long term relying on Sony for sensors (Sony being a major and growing competitor in cameras). So a joint venture/strategic partnership between the two makes a lot of sense (assuming that Samsung is interested in the digital camera to showcase its tech.)

Second, and related to this, Samsung could quite easily acquire Nikon. Samsung is a US$300bn market cap company and Nikon is a US$6bn market cap. company. So acquiring Nikon is chicken feed to Samsung. So if Samsung wants to reenter the market, it makes a lot of sense to buy into the market rather than try to recreate their market share from scratch.

But even the Nikon/Samsung tie up in one form or another I see as pretty unlikely because Samsung really hasnt shown a lot of ambition in the image sensor market (despite some press reports to the contrary.) Take the flagship S9/S9+ as an example. It continues to use both Samsung and Sony image sensors (and people dont seem able to tell the difference.)

https://www.dpreview.com/news/0634864640/tech-insights-teardown-confirms-galaxy-s9-uses-samsung-and-sony-image-sensors

So if Samsung cant be bothered to showcase their image sensor tech in their flagship smartphones, I dont think they are likely to do it in digital cameras.

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1 hour ago, Andrew Reid said:

Samsung will be back.

Hi Andrew, do you have any source/info or just is it a strong personal feeling?

56 minutes ago, IronFilm said:

But would any one trust Samsung again to buy their products? Or will they just orphan them again. 

Yes, that's the problem. But let see what they do. In any case it will be interesting to see a come back. The NX1 was a beast and Samsung is not going to "hold the specs".

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I don't see it. Samsung is a consumer electronic company. I think they want to sell TVs, phones, etc. and the electronics in mass volumes. Having a camera company is more than just designing a few camera bodies. 
Samsung is a global brand, and this decision is not just about can we make money now. The question is, how much distraction is it vs. how much money can we make it. What is the opportunity cost? Will our brand take a hit if we can't deliver. How are we going to support the prosumer market. Who will service and fix these lenses. And as the market is becoming competitive, can we still make any money from this market? Will our product be that much better to make a differentiation. Samsung tried that, they had a better product and they still couldn't make it work.

I just think, for Samsung is not worth it. The best you can hope for (as others have suggested it) is for samsung to make it a bit harder for Sony and start selling their sensors and give buyers more options and more bargaining power. I think they can make the inside of the cameras , but they probably will just remain inside some other brand (Nikon is being the most logical choice as pointed out with @Robert Collins ) 

So, I just don't think so. 

 

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I'll bite.

CIPA says almost 3.3 million mirrorless cameras were shipped in 2014, in 2017 its was about 4.1 million. Its been growing over the last few years, but not exactly setting the world on fire. This year is trending pretty far behind last year - mirrorless may very well have peaked in 2017 as the overall market continues to contract. If CaNikon goes FF like many rumors indicate - we're still talking lower volume/higher margin bodies at the upper end of the enthusiast scale. 

I'd love to be wrong, but there just doesn't seem to be a business case for a unknown camera brand to start producing ILC's. CaNikon going mirrorless is different than Samsung trying to resurrect the NX line. The big 2 have a massive advantage in terms of brand recognition, retail penetration and user bases to draw customers from, and over 100 million lenses produced by each to build upon with mirrorless offerings. If given the choice between a $3000 body from Samsung and the same from Sony, Canon or Nikon - few will opt for Samsung. 

And when you read Samsung's financial reports, their imaging and sensor production is focused on mobile and automotive applications. Backup cameras are pretty much standard equipment these days, and features that are becoming so popular like self-driving, lane warnings, surround view, night vision and so on mean the demand for multiple cameras in cars is rising sharply. If you can sell 250,000 ILC's - which would be about half of what Olympus forecasted for 2017, and probably far more than what Samsung actually could move - after extensive marketing, R&D and so on - or you can sell a few million to Toyota, a few million more to GM, a few million more to VW and so on, its easy to see what direction Samsung is going.

I've been to 55 countries on 6 continents over the last couple years, every city I visit, I find stores carrying cameras - from specialty camera shops, to electronics stores, to department stores and CaNikon still dominate. Outside of Japan smaller brands like Fuji, Panasonic and Olympus were few and far between. Samsung was an afterthought to the buying public when they actually had a presence, re-entering would be an uphill battle requiring a massive capital expenditure for marketing. And then you have existing users/reviewers asking a logical question - how long until they pull the plug again? Despite Samsung being a tech Goliath, retailers aren't going to suddenly stock Samsung ILC's alongside CaNikon because they say please - that will cost large amount of cash. Again, not much of a business case for making a move back into ILC's.

Just my $0.02

Chris

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https://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/samsung-isocell-camera-sensor-world-number-one-news/

To showcase this, maybe they will need a top camera. Selling sensors, can be more profitable than making cameras, and Samsung is very close to this (if you read the articles around the web, they already have the infrastructure, and the capital to invest further).

I am sure they already have a top spec-ed camera (look at recent NX2 rumors), but not for general release. They do not want to scare their future customers (other manufacturers).

The Japanese will never let a Korean or Chinese company to buy Nikon. 

Things in business do not add up "this is one billion, so I do not care, this is 100 billion, so I care". You start with one billion and you make it 10, and so on and so forth.

Brick and mortar stores are a thing of the 20th century, do not see affecting sales very much in the 21st century.

Samsung NX1 was a 1500$ body with the (very good - unlike the similar Sony) 16-50PZ, when back then the 7D body was more expensive, and the "obsolete" GH4 was the same amount of money. They can produce (they already have the prototypes) the best hybrid APS-C camera ever made, and undercut everyone's price at the same time. Arguably, the NX1 body is the best ergonomic camera ever been made, so far, with the best touch operating system ever created, still. Imagine a NX1mkII.

 

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11 minutes ago, Kisaha said:

Samsung NX1 was a 1500$ body with the (very good - unlike the similar Sony) 16-50PZ, when back then the 7D body was more expensive, and the "obsolete" GH4 was the same amount of money. They can produce (they already have the prototypes) the best hybrid APS-C camera ever made, and undercut everyone's price at the same time. Arguably, the NX1 body is the best ergonomic camera ever been made, so far, with the best touch operating system ever created, still. Imagine a NX1mkII.

 

Unfortunately, this is exactly the point.

It is why every Samsung fanboy would like a new camera from them and exactly why they wont introduce one.

If you produce the 'best hybrid on the market' and the resulting sales are so low that CIPA doesnt even record them, you might as well give up - which is exactly what they did. A huge shrug and moving on isnt exactly the best incentive to return to a market.

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The NX1 Mark ii would be the most important and wanted camera ever. It would, presumably, Again, redefine photography and videography in a Camera, if it ever hit shelves. 

 

This topic is both so Relevant and Divided, that we should have a Regulated Wager on this one.

 

Andrew should probably hold bets on both sides of argument. It would be fun.

 

Should we start with a Poll? 

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9 hours ago, Robert Collins said:

I dont see it myself. The numbers dont really add up. The digital camera market (ILC/compacts) is a US$10bn a year market of which Canon/Nikon/Sony hold 85%. If Samsung re-entered the market and we heroically optimistically assumed they gained a 10% share - it would only amount to US$1bn a year - less than 0.5% of Samsungs US$200bn+ annual sales. Compare that to the US$500bn a year smartphone industry.

What source did you get these figures from? Don't seem right.

Digital camera market as a whole is shrinking due to compacts.

High-end mirrorless is a growth market. Canon/Nikon/Sony don't hold 85% of it. There's Olympus, Fuji and Panasonic with a large share of it.

Samsung is always on the look out for growing markets to enter with their technology.

Both Canon and Nikon are finally getting serious about mirrorless. Huge companies. There's a reason for that. It's seeing huge sales. Just ask Sony and Fujifilm.

Besides, Samsung has left the camera market before and returned. The reason they left the last time was due to a poor product mix that was focussed on the low-end of the market which was evaporating. The NX1 was the right move but a day late and only one model.

Besides to compete in the high-end of the mirrorless market which is growing (and where the high margins are) ideally you need a full frame camera, or a very specialised line of enthusiast / semi-pro models with special abilities aka X-T2, E-M1 II and GH5. Samsung only had the NX1... and literally nothing else. So they got out. They will definitely be back.

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37 minutes ago, Andrew Reid said:

What source did you get these figures from? Don't seem right.

Digital camera market as a whole is shrinking due to compacts.

Mirrorless is a growth market. Canon/Nikon/Sony don't hold 85% of it. There's Olympus, Fuji and Panasonic with a large share of it.

Data for digital cameras come from CIPA 2017

http://www.cipa.jp/stats/documents/e/d-201712_e.pdf

Actually they show the entire digital camera market at 800 billion yen or about US$8bn (but that is at shipping values which would be lower than retail.)

Mirrorless is 220 billion yen or US$2bn. Yes its growing but I do think it is really about splitting up the digital camera pie which is why Canon/Nikon is interested in mirrorless. Arguably Canon/Nikon/ Panasonic/Sony/Ollympus/Fuji are just fighting over a US$2bn market.

Total number of interchangeable lens cameras sold in 2017 = 11m (CIPA). Total number of smartphones sold in 2017 1,536m = a multiple of 140x!!

https://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3859963

The cold reality is that Samsung is not in the digital camera market because they are in the smartphone market - and the cold reality is that Panasonic/Canon/Nikon/Sony/Olympus are in the digital camera market because they are not in the smartphone market.

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On my recent trip to Japan, two of my mates (one is doctor one is key animator) upgraded their phone to take better photos, money is not really a problem to them, but they rather spend on new phones than getting a new camera.

Camera is surely going to be more niche in the future, pretty sure Samsung saw it waay before.

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1 hour ago, ntblowz said:

On my recent trip to Japan, two of my mates (one is doctor one is key animator) upgraded their phone to take better photos, money is not really a problem to them, but they rather spend on new phones than getting a new camera.

Camera is surely going to be more niche in the future, pretty sure Samsung saw it waay before.

'Upgraded my phone' is a pretty 'odd' expression that we all use. I mean absolutely noone has ever said 'I just bought a new phone and my phone calls now are just so much clearer'. The biggest 'delta' in a new phone these days is the camera.

I would guess that Samsung sees itself - not as a company that has 'exited' the camera business - but as the biggest camera manufacturer in the world.

I dont think that 'proper cameras' will become 'more niche' they are already outnumbered by smartphones 100:1. Here in Asia I feel there are more 'proper cameras' being bought now, as people get bitten by the 'photo/video' bug and then look for something better. But I dont really have any hard numbers to justify that.

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1 hour ago, Robert Collins said:

I would guess that Samsung sees itself - not as a company that has 'exited' the camera business - but as the biggest camera manufacturer in the world.

Then it makes sense for Samsung to expand in the camera market.

To sell higher-priced models to the millions of customers using their low-end cameras - i.e. smartphones.

It is not about the existing size of the market as measured by CIPA.

It is about the potential size in the future.

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Haha it is one thing getting trolled by a kid from Germany, quite another getting trolled by a chaebol that makes tanks.

By the way for those interested just in stills... an NX30 is amazing value for money at £200 used... articulated EVF and smaller, lighter than the NX1 but similarly nice ergonomics.

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16 hours ago, Robert Collins said:

 

But even the Nikon/Samsung tie up in one form or another I see as pretty unlikely because Samsung really hasnt shown a lot of ambition in the image sensor market (despite some press reports to the contrary.) Take the flagship S9/S9+ as an example. It continues to use both Samsung and Sony image sensors (and people dont seem able to tell the difference.)

https://www.dpreview.com/news/0634864640/tech-insights-teardown-confirms-galaxy-s9-uses-samsung-and-sony-image-sensors

So if Samsung cant be bothered to showcase their image sensor tech in their flagship smartphones, I dont think they are likely to do it in digital cameras.

Those are Samsung designed cameras however, they are the same, that is why people can't tell the difference. Samsung uses Sony as a third party manufacturer, in much the same way that Apple uses Foxconn. Sony makes some of them because Samsung does not have the burst manufacturing capacity to produce enough on a product release. It is cheaper and more efficient to use some third party manufacturer to produce the extra needed with otherwise non-utilized production capacity.

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19 hours ago, Kisaha said:

Brick and mortar stores are a thing of the 20th century, do not see affecting sales very much in the 21st century

That's simply ignoring facts. Brick and mortar dominated the retail world every year in the 21st century. Walmart did $136 billion USD last quarter - its the worlds #1 retailer - a position its held for quite some time. Amazon and Alibaba are still behind. Best Buy is still the worlds largest electronics retailer. Brick and mortar are part of the reason CaNikon still dominate - they're literally everywhere. People spending large amounts of cash still like to touch products before buying them. Olympus board members would give their left nuts to have the number of retail positions Canon occupies. They literally can't buy that kind of visibility and market penetration.

18 hours ago, sanveer said:

The NX1 Mark ii would be the most important and wanted camera ever. It would, presumably, Again, redefine photography and videography in a Camera, if it ever hit shelves. 

Ehhh, the NX1 didn't redefine photography at all, BSI was innovative, but IQ wasn't all that great because of the noise. I shot it alongside a 5d3, Canon's stills were much better.

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3 hours ago, Trek of Joy said:

Ehhh, the NX1 didn't redefine photography at all, BSI was innovative, but IQ wasn't all that great because of the noise. I shot it alongside a 5d3, Canon's stills were much better.

Actually the 5D Mark ii and iii had pretty low dynamic range (lower than the Panasonic GH5 cameras at base ISO). And let's not forget the soft HD for video. Evey camera has its issues and limitations, somr way more than others. 

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