I missed the Sony press conference, so didn't see their data presentation until others shared it with me later. This isn't the first time they've shown some of these numbers, though the presentation seems a little more complete now. Sony made two basic sets of data claims:
Worldwide Mirrorless Penetration Versus DSLRs
- Europe: 18%
- Russia: 14%
- SE Asia: 32%
- Japan: 50%
- US: 20%
- Worldwide: 23%
The numbers for Japan line up with the BCN rankings, the numbers of the US don't appear to line up with any customer purchase data I've seen (more on that after the second set of numbers).
There are some things to note, however. This data is for 2011 and from "Sony internal survey," whatever that means. The Japan data seems to mimic a popular "sold at retail" ranking (BCN), but the US number doesn't seem to match the Nielsen "sold at retail" rankings. So I suspect this is a hodgepodge of data thrown together, which sort of invalidates any conclusions to be drawn from it.
Sony's claim is this: in 2011 in these 11 markets, Sony was first or second in every one in terms of mirrorless camera market share, and were overall number one for the 11 markets taken together. Brand A and B are the two m4/3 companies, Panasonic and Olympus.
This chart will look a bit different for 2012, and very different for 2013 is my guess, even with the mismatching data sources behind it. Nikon really didn't begin making sales until the very end of 2011 and thus would have been a blip in this chart. Canon won't make any sales until the very end of 2012 and thus will be a blip in the 2012 version of this chart.
That said, one thing I noted some time ago is that Sony has a (good) problem on their hands: they've made no real inroads in DSLR market share, despite quite a bit of iteration and a lot of technology and marketing thrown at the problem. But they've made strong strides in mirrorless. Put bluntly: NEX is a success and Alpha isn't. So if you're Sony, where are you going to invest most of your resources going forward?
This makes the slow roll-out of lenses in NEX even more curious. While m4/3 strengthens itself via lenses and camera iteration, NEX has been mostly about camera iteration and extension into video cameras. If Sony really believes that the numbers above mean something, they should be going for the jugular vein: petal to the metal now to try to reinforce and secure that lead before the other big players enter the market.
As I said: a good problem to have. But you have to solve problems fast in this business.