DL Turns out to mean Dead List

Nikon today announced that the three DL cameras they announced early in 2016, then delayed for a re-engineering, have now been officially cancelled. The core of the statement:

…everyone involved has worked very hard to develop products with which our customers will be satisfied. However, it has been decided that sales of the DL series will be canceled due to concerns regarding their profitability considering the increase in development costs, and the drop in the number of expected sales due to the slow-down of the market.”

Personally, I call bull****.  What’s really happening at Nikon is that they’re finally starting to understand the mess they’ve gotten themselves into. The “new” initiatives they’ve tried—Nikon 1, KeyMission, and now DL—have all been failures, while their neglect of the consumer DSLRs has now gotten them to the point where sales of them in some key areas are essentially down to zero. 

I have to explain my use of the term “neglect,” because Nikon will point to the fact that they’ve updated the D3xxx four times now and the D5xxx even more often. But all those updates since we hit 24mp have essentially been “reduce costs, ration out a few features” types of updates. Updates that not only don’t inspire upgrading, but also didn’t keep them protected against the slow emergence of mirrorless.

And yes, buzz buzz, the continued limited lineup of consumer zooms for DX lenses hasn’t helped them, either. 

Meanwhile, the D600 was a fiasco and the D610 was an embarrassing attempt to call the fix a “new camera.” People are avoiding that model—despite very low prices for an FX camera—because of the self-inflicted harm Nikon did to themselves. 

What Nikon does manage to sell these days are: D7200, D500, D750, D810, and the “good” lenses. They’d sell even more D7200 and D500 if they had a full, rationalized DX lens lineup. 

So what now, Nikon? I warned way back in 2011 that the push in the consumer models was a distraction that was going to slam you against the wall at the end of the straightaway. And now that the concussion you received is starting to fade, you appear to be abandoning that type of car. 

We’ll see the results in Nikon financials tomorrow, though they’ve already warned of an extraordinary loss. Here’s the thing, though: there’s nothing in anything Nikon has announced that will tell us the pain is over. Nikon is about to become a smaller company. Possibly far smaller. 

Right after the financial announcements Nikon will put on a strong face and introduce what new products they have for CP+. As if that’s supposed to impress us with the future of Nikon Imaging. 

I’m not going to be impressed, no matter which product they announce after the fiscal results. I haven’t been impressed with Nikon’s product management for at least six years, maybe more. There’s no “core philosophy” to what Nikon is doing. It’s all about cost management, for the most part. Yes, you have to manage costs, but that’s a lot easier to do if you produce the right products.

And frankly, at least one and maybe two of the now-cancelled DLs were probably the right product. I wrote when the DL 18-50 was announced that it would be a top seller. Nikon disagreed even then. I ran a survey of my site visitors which produced results that backed that up. Nikon still disagreed. But I don’t see anything that says that they did the due diligence to ask the customers what they thought. 

Now Nikon is saying that they don’t see the demand for product that would make back costs. I’m calling bull****. If they don’t see the demand, then they don’t understand the photography market or their customers (see my other article today). If they can’t make the product profitable at the price they announced, increase the price slightly or fix the internal structure that's producing the problem. Instead, they’re taking a huge loss by absorbing all that R&D expense. I suspect more than anything, they just have cold feet because the Nikon 1 and KeyMission failed and they have no confidence in their ability to see what product might actually sell.,

I’ll have much more to say about all this in a couple of days. Right now I’m shooting and traveling, so I’ve had to squeeze this week’s articles into a little bit of down time. 

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