Sunday, July 15, 2007

When to Announce New Products

Readers of my blog are probably aware that I am a shutterbug. In learning to photography in the past few years, I have also become familiar with digital camera market.

Majority of the high-end digital cameras used by serious photographers and professionals belong to a technology called Digital Single Lens Reflex, or DSLR. Canon and Nikon are the two major DSLR-makers.

Product life cycle of DSLR typically ranges from 18 months to 3 years. Canon and Nikon regularly release new models. When Canon announces a new product, it usually will hit the shelves in 1 or 2 months. For the case of Nikon DSLR, consumers often need to wait 3 or 4 months. One may wonder why Nikon makes public announcement well before they are ready to deliver it.

Canon and Nikon are, of course, silent on their marketing strategies. I suspect that when Nikon announces a new DSLR, they are telling the customers: “Don’t buy Canon. Wait for us. We have some nice stuff in the pipeline.” Canon, on the other hand, avoids making announcement too early because they worry that sales of existing models would be dampened. They want customers to buy NOW instead of buy later.

Canon is the market leader while Nikon is the market challenger. Nikon wants to steal market share away from the leader, or at least defend its own share. Canon is more concerned with cannibalization – one product eats into the market of another. That basically explains the different strategies adopted by the two DSLR makers.

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