Like Porsche, Not Apple: Leica Cameras to Go By Type Rather than Generation

When Leica announced at Photokina last week that future M and S cameras won’t have numbers attached to the model name (e.g. Leica M), I wrote that the company seemed to be taking a page from Apple’s book by having generations rather than models. Turns out that’s not the case. Leica doesn’t want to be what Apple is to the gadget industry, but what Porsche is to the automobile industry.

Dave Etchells of Imaging Resource has published a great interview with Leica product specialist Justin Stailey, who states,

Well, the model on that naming strategy comes from the automotive industry. If you look at Porsche, they make a 911. But to a 911 owner, it’s more specific. From the early 90’s, there’s a 964. The last generation air-cooled is a 993 from the end of the 90’s. Then there’s the 996, then 997, etcetera. So internally, they have project names or product names. But to the world, it’s a 911. We’re trying to go to that sort of a mentality, so it’s all an M camera. To be specific, the new M is really a type 240 and the new M-E, a Type 220. That’s how we plan to differentiate them. And they’re actually marked on the cameras as such.

So it’s “type”, not “generation.”

This whole idea of being the “Porsche of the camera world” explains Leica very well. It may put people off when Leica says that it’ll never release an affordable M-rangefinder, but it makes sense when viewed through this lens. After all, would Porsche release an affordable version of the 911?

Q&A with Leica’s Justin Stailey: How the new Leica M and S may be the Porsches of enthusiast digital cameras [Imaging Resource]

Image credit: Illustration based on Porsche 911 (997S) by lwoodfp

  • dez

    Porsche had the 924, and it was THE affordable Porsche. I had one, and would buy the Leica equivalent in a second.

  • Renato Valenzuela

    ah, but not the most affordable 911. so if they were to make an affordable Leica that’s as close to an “M” without getting the “M” they’d have to call it the Leica Boxster. i think that’s what the article is suggesting.

  • fahrertuer

    What about the M-E?
    It fits the Boxster/924 analogy pretty good IMHO

  • kendon

    except it’s a regular thing with cars, at least in europe. there are so many cars that aren’t counted up, look at bmw, ford, peugeot, vw (except the golf), you name it.

  • dez

    I want a Leica Boxster so bad!!!

  • Vasco da Gama

    What’s so great about Leica cameras is that 95% of each camera is made by very skillful workers in Portugal. Leica chooses to make them here and it’s not because of “cheap labour” it’s because of an excellent cost/quality ratio.

    There should be a law prohibiting putting the phrase “Made in Germany” on a 95% Portuguese Leica camera.

    I see Sony and Panasonic products which are made in China say… “Made in China”, so why do Leica cameras say Made in Germany?! A double standard perhaps?

  • Matt

    But the problem is that the Porsche 924 and even the newer Caymen are better cars than the 911, Porsche just under powers them to protect the 911 sales. People just think the 911 is the best, when in reality there are a lot better cars out there… Porsche just can’t get away from the 911. Which from a business stand point is not that bad.

  • bruno

    The parts to some Leicas ‘may be’ fabricated in Portugal but they are assembled, checked, tested and finished off in Germany.

    Leica, I believe also doesn’t make its actual glass,but still state that they are German made.

    With cars the manufacturers don’t make the tyres, headlamp bulbs, batteries etc etc yet still say the vehicles are made in Germany [ for instance]