Why Japan/Asia Only?

(news & commentary)

With Canon announcing the EOS M2 only in China and Japan, the question I'm getting is why? Okay, here's the answer:

jan-oct2013regional.jpg

That's where the Japanese camera makers shipped cameras in the first 10 months of 2013 (source: CIPA). 66% of all mirrorless cameras went to the Asian markets (including Japan). 61% of the DSLR cameras went to Europe and the Americas. Rounded a bit, two-thirds of cameras are going different directions depending upon what type they are.

This is posing real issues for some companies. Here in the US, the DSLR market is dominated to the point of absurdity by Canon and Nikon (>90%), with Sony taking the biggest chunk of what's left. Sony and Nikon also have more than half the mirrorless sales in the US, though. So, of the 3 million or so interchangeable lens cameras shipped to the US so far this year, something over 2.8 million of them are probably Canon, Nikon, or Sony. Not a lot of market left over for the rest of the players, which is one reason why Panasonic stepped back and is offering only limited options (e.g. body colors) in the US, and shipping here last. It's probably also why Olympus cut some of their direct dealer support here. 

Canon's Asia-only EOS M2 (at least initially, though maybe permanently) shows that even the big boys aren't immune to the regional preference that has appeared between mirrorless and DSLR. You don't want to ship inventory into markets where it won't sell and eventually have to be sold at steep discount, which eventually shows up as higher SG&A expense. 

So what about the Olympus E-M1 and Sony A7? Aren't they going to break the regional barrier? Hard to say yet, but I'm guessing not really, because they're both higher priced cameras, and thus are selling in lower volume to start with. So even though they're seeing good popularity here in the US for their price point, I don't think they distort the unit shipment picture all that much. 

I'm guessing we're going to see more of this regionality short term. Indeed, let's add compact cameras to the mix and the picture becomes even more interesting:

jan-oct2013regionalall.jpg

Aha. Asia is buying mirrorless over both DSLRs and compacts. 

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