The Non-Announcement 

(news & commentary)

Nikon today announced that they are developing a D5, WT-6, and SB-5000. Duh. 

In exactly three paragraphs Nikon basically said nothing that wasn’t already known or assumed. To put Nikon’s announcement in perspective, it’s a bit like Ford saying they were working on the next F-150 pickup and options for it. In other words, no news. 

So why the press release? 

Someone is nervous in Tokyo. After a long period where Nikon was on the announce-a-month plan, things started to go south in 2015. Our last camera announcement of significance was the D7200 in March. Lenses that were supposed to have launched in spring didn’t make it out until July and August (though the 24-70mm f/2.8E was always scheduled for August as far as I can tell).   

Meanwhile, across town Sony is still on the announce-a-month plan and nibbling at Nikon’s customers by announcing technology advances. Companies like Fujifilm, Olympus, and Panasonic seem to be actively planting (or at least allowing) leaks so that it looks like they’re as active. Those leaks carry substance to them, though. It’s not that the Fujifilm X-Pro2 is being developed. It’s that the X-Pro2 is in testers hands, is 24mp, etc. In other words, details that might make a potential purchaser more interested. Nothing in what Nikon wrote makes anyone particularly interested. For example, if a WT-6 is anything like the WT1 through 5 that came before it, it’s an iteration, won’t quite do what we want it to, and will have a laborious setup process. We’ve seen WT’s before. Why would be excited that a new one is coming?

Funny thing is I was just penning an article for release next week about what I think we can expect from Nikon in 2016. Guess what was on the list? D5, WT-6, new Speedlight. 

What worries me, though, is the timing of the “development announcement.” In the past, such announcements from Nikon were made almost from two to twelve months in advance of the product shipping. The D70, for instance, was announced in December and shipped in spring. The way I read the development announcement is this: don’t expect the D5 to ship in January. Maybe it’ll be shown somewhere by February and some features leaked, but most likely it’ll be shipped in early spring is the message I take away from Nikon’s announcement. If that wasn’t the message Nikon intended, then they shouldn’t have made the announcement.

It seems that everything that Nikon is doing these days is either bad (see the article on how well Nikon software found their software fares on OS X 10.11) or sad, sometimes both. 

Telling its remaining customers that it’s developing a product we already expected falls in the sad category. Nikon is out of tune with its customers, out of tune with how marketing works in the Internet age, out of tune with its messaging, out of tune with its quality control, and D300 owners would say out of tune with iterating their best products. 

Early this week I wrote that the camera industry hadn’t hit bottom yet. Today I can write that Nikon hasn’t hit bottom yet. 

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