BCN's Preliminary 2013 Numbers

(commentary)

A lot of blogs are writing about BCN's preliminary tally of camera sales in Japan this week. For those who haven't been following this site for the past few years, let me repeat, BCN captures and reports a little less than half of the actual retail sales in Japan by analyzing cash register receipts. If you want to see my article about last year's BCN numbers, you'll find it here.

Last year's top cameras (listed alphabetically): Nikon J1, Olympus E-PL2, E-PL3, E-PM1, Panasonic GF3 and GF5, Pentax Q, and Sony NEX-C3 and NEX-5N. 

This year's top cameras (listed alphabetically): Canon EOS M, Nikon J2, Olympus E-PL3, E-PL5, E-PM2, Panasonic GF6, Pentax Q10, and Sony NEX-F3 and NEX-5R. 

As with last year, Japan's buying seems to be price sensitive. Older models, lower end models, and models that went on discount during the year dominate the list. What's different is that mirrorless sales went down as a percentage of mirrorless to DSLR sales in interchangeable lens camera sales. Last year the percentage of mirrorless was about 50%. This year it's down to 40%, mostly due to an increase in DSLR sales year-to-year. It's tough to draw any real conclusions from that, though, as we don't know what's happening in the other half of the camera market that BCN doesn't tally. 

Overall mirrorless market shares in Japan fall out this way in the BCN numbers:

  • Olympus 29.1%
  • Sony 26.4%
  • Panasonic 14.2%
  • Ricoh Imaging 9.8%
  • Nikon 9.3%
  • Canon 9.3%
  • Other 1.9%

Overall, Canon and Sony gained share, while Nikon and Panasonic lost share. 

That said, Canon and Nikon still dominate the Japanese interchangeable lens camera market, mainly due to DSLR sales. As the Credit Suisse analyst quoted by Reuters reported, the Canon, Nikon, Sony triumvirate has over 60% of the market (overall, in compacts, and in interchangeable lens cameras). The one difference in Japan is that the triumvirate is really a quadrate in interchangeable lens cameras, with Olympus grabbing just enough share to make it four companies controlling over three-quarters of the market. (Add in Panasonic and make the fourth member m4/3 instead of Olympus and it's even more of a market lock by the four leaders.)

Canon and Nikon have to be concerned that in the home market they've slipped from being a duopoly in interchangeable lens cameras in Japan as recently as 2008 to just having half the market in 2013. But remember, these numbers really are just about Japan. Outside Japan and SE Asia Canon and Nikon still have far stronger positions that essentially make for a duopoly in interchangeable lens camera sales. That's absolutely true here in the US, for instance. 

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