The Likely Product Announcement Schedule

Two huge—sorry, had to use that word despite its overuse by a certain politician—European camera trade shows are coming up shortly, and they tend to be the places where camera companies like to make big splashes with new product (typically introduced just prior to one of the shows):

  • IBC (International Broadcasting Convention) — Amsterdam, September 8-13
  • Photokina — Cologne, September 20-25

Expect companies with video-related products to announce before IBC, while the more still-only companies will target Photokina-friendly dates. 

What this means is that from August 22 through September 20 you’re going to see quite a few new product announcements. Perhaps not as many as we originally expected due to the sensor shortage caused by the quake, but still, pretty much every company I cover has new products pending and awaiting announcement. 

I expect Canon and Sony to be first up with any major announcement, mainly because of IBC. Both are key exhibitors at IBC (as is Panasonic). Neither company is prepared to do an all-out press rollout twice in one month, so these companies will likely do theirs just prior to IBC, I think. It’s possible that Canon—who has a lot to announce—might hold something for Photokina announcement (likely EOS M related products). 

For the Photokina crowd, camera companies need to be careful not to get caught in the IBC-produced hype (if any). I don’t think September 8-13 is a good time to announce anything related solely (mostly) to still photography. Yet, that means that there’s only one week after IBC to announce for Photokina. 

That poses issues for companies such as Nikon, which has a booth at Photokina, but not at IBC. In the past, Nikon has tried to announce so that the product is available as Photokina starts, which implies an announcement three to four weeks prior to the show.

Typically the camera companies like to announce early for both these shows because they’re both open to the public, and they’re the best way to reach the higher-end still and video camera audiences in Europe. By announcing earlier than the shows, you hope that you generate more foot traffic at your booth. Heck, you hope that you get some people to come to the show that weren’t originally planning to attend.

So, realistically, the period of August 22 through September 8 is likely to be where the biggest announcement action is. Yet past history tells us there will be one or two companies that wait until the last possible moment to pull a Photokina-surprise and try to win the mindshare of the public and dominate all the press that hits in the day prior to and day of the show opening. 

The real question, of course, is can everyone actually ship what they announce to meet demand in the fast approaching holiday buying season? My sources in Japan tell me there’s been a mad scramble among most of the camera companies to reallocate the sensors they’ve got on hand with the ones they expect soon as the Sony plant gets back up to full speed and come up with a way to make it look like everything is available for the holidays. 

This is one place that the tyranny of the Duopoly comes into play. Canon and Nikon use so many 1” sensors in current and upcoming models that their volume buys them clout at the factory. Likewise, Nikon is such an important APS and full frame sensor customer of Sony’s that I’m not expecting Nikon to have big troubles getting models to market. (That’s not to say any troubles, just not big troubles.)

I’ll be offline when the action starts in August. But I’ll catch up quickly when I return after my month-long sojourn and Internet cleansing.  

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