Today Canon is going to make an announcement for some new product — more than likely, a high-end digital video camera. The problem is, what most of the world wants to hear is the announcement of a new Canon 5D Mark 3 (with better low light support, RAW capability, clean HDMI output, etc etc), and herein lies the problem. We’ve seen this before. One that comes to mind is Sony’s first digital music players…
My first digital music player (notice I didn’t say MP3 player) was a Sony-branded one. It did NOT play MP3’s directly, but rather you had to use a propriety tool of theirs to convert your MP3s to their format. From what I gathered, their reasoning was that it would thwart music piracy, and Sony’s music division wasn’t about to let another division release a product that could play pirated music.
Fast forward a few years and Apple releases a product that’s easy to use and plays MP3s directly, end of story. Goodbye Sony digital music player.
So a few weeks ago, Canon announces their new flagship DSLR camera, the Canon 1DX. When a Canon representative was asked recently why the new 1DX DSLR wouldn’t output a clean HDMI signal (i.e. no red recording dot overlaid on top of the video), the representative started to fumble with his words, not able to give a straight answer, but then it came out — with some reading between the lines —- there would be conflict with the Canon’s video division if the DSLRs would start to outperform their dedicated video cameras.
I immediately heard that screeching sound one gets when dragging a record needle across the record (or think of car tires screeching under hard breaking if you don’t know what a record is). Here it was, all over again. A company not giving the customers what they want, but rather letting internal politics dictate what the customer will get.
Now look at Apple. They had released the iPhone knowing full well it would cannibalize their monster hit, the iPod. They do it again by releasing the iMac which ultimately cannibalizes their Mac Pro line. And finally, they release the iPad, which quickly outsells their computers. Why? Because they are delivering what the customer wants, and ultimately, everyone wins.
Canon, you too can be like Apple. Give customers what they want. Take those leaps. You become the hero, the customer is happy, and above all, you can do what so few other companies have achieved, get customers to genuinely love you and your products.
Update: Canon has announced the C300, a $16,000-$20,000 US camera with a 4k sensor, but that only records at 1080p because “the industry isn’t ready for 4k quite yet”. Really? The C300 is at an odd middle ground, too expensive for DSLR users (coming form the 5D Mark II) and not quite capable enough (in terms of resolution) for Hollywood filmmakers, who have already embraced 4K digital video.
Update 2: So apparently there is a new DSLR coming from Canon with more focus on video, but details are scarce right now with no information of what, when, or for how much.