Announce Frenzy Yes; Ship Frenzy No

The Internet moves at a different speed than camera companies, but they've not yet adapted to that. We're in one of the usual patterns of the camera industry at the moment: lots of January/February announcements followed by the trickling of shipments. This is normal. 

The early year announcement deluge is due mostly because of the reliance on trade shows to launch products. CES, PMA, and CP+ are all major start of the year trade shows, and the camera makers still believe these are the best venues for getting the word out about a new product. I wonder how many years it'll take before the consumer electronics industry figures out what the computer industry did many years ago: that trade shows are expensive and inefficient ways to launch products. Moreover, the arbitrary schedule of trade shows puts constraints on development, as the trade show won't move if your milestones move. Thus, we often get less ambitious products than we could.

Here is the status of various items that were announced at the trade shows:

  • Olympus OM-D—mid-April appearance in stores here in the US.
  • Fujifilm X-Pro1—already in limited release elsewhere, will ship in US sometime later this month.
  • Pentax K-01—shipping.
  • Sigma NEX and m4/3 lenses—30mm has started limited shipping, the 19mm will join it later this month.
  • Olympus 60mm, 75mm, Panasonic 12-35mm, 35-70mm—all were pre-announcements. No one expects these lenses until late summer or more likely fall. With Panasonic's US shipping woes, I have doubts I'll see the two f/2.8 zooms before the end of the year, but some of you in the rest of the world will be luckier.
  • Voigtlander 35mm f/0.95—probably late Spring in limited quantities.

This year we've got another big trade show happening in September: Photokina. Photokina is huge, much like COMDEX used to be huge for computers. For some reason, the companies all believe that they can shout louder than the others at big shows like Photokina, so they all line up their press releases for big stuff, even if it's a long way from shipping. It's actually easy to predict that we'll have a number of big mirrorless announcements the week of September 10th (the week prior to the show), and a couple more as the show starts the following week. 

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