By this point, the crippling blow dealt to compact cameras by the rise of smartphones is old news, but camera manufacturers are now mounting counterattacks. They’ve certainly suffered for long enough. Sales for compact cameras fell by 30% in 2011 alone, and kept on falling. They’re at 102 million units for this year, compared to 144 million units just three years ago. Read more…
If you live in New York City, one of these days you might just stumble upon a bottle of Aunt JeMichael instead of Aunt Jemima while shopping for syrup in the supermarket. No, it’s not a strange off-brand that somehow got mixed in with the big-name stuff, it’s part of advertising and fine art photographer Mike Mellia’s Self-Absorbed series. Read more…
Wealthy people who want to flaunt their wealth are attracted to shiny and pricey things. It’s no surprise then, that more and more Hollywood celebrities are gravitating toward one particular brand for their photographic needs: Leica. Alex Williams of The New York Times writes that the stars aren’t simply adopting the revered marque — some are learning how to use it too:
“If celebrities are going to be seen with a camera, for better or for worse, Leica does lend a certain cachet,” said Michael Holve [...] “It seems a Canon or Nikon is somehow bourgeois, or even pedestrian, by comparison.”
The swelling ranks of famous M-system devotees reach beyond those with a well-chronicled affection for the camera, like Brad Pitt. In recent years, Daniel Craig, Jude Law, Louis C. K., Miley Cyrus and many other celebrities have popped up in paparazzi shots toting Leicas.
[...] It is easy for cynics to sniff, but many Leica-toting celebrities take their photography seriously. Brendan Fraser, an aficionado, has had his work featured in the prestigious Leica Gallery in New York. And Mr. Pitt, who has appeared on the cover of Interview magazine holding a Leica M7, earns praise from photographers in Leica forums for his work, including a cover shoot of Angelina Jolie for W a few years ago.
Williams also makes the observation that the camera’s minimal features and manual controls naturally divide the celebrity owners into serious photo enthusiasts and posers.
Marketing and customer loyalty are two powerful things. They can make minor improvements in gadgets seem great, and major advancements to-die-for. In the world of photography, many camera owners feel strong allegiances to the brand they use, fiercely defending it as their own, and even going on the offensive to belittle other photographers who shoot under a different banner. This kind of customer loyalty does strange things to how the “fanboys” perceive the quality of their camera gear. Read more…
Polaroid the company was named after the inexpensive polarizing film developed by founder Edwin Land back in 1929. Over the years it became an iconic brand name associated with easy-to-use cameras and instant photos. After the company went bankrupt in the early 2000s, the brand name was sold off to a holdings company, which began licensing the name to third parties.
Up until now, the brand name has been used for mostly photography-related products, but that’s set to change: Polaroid has partnered with British retail chain Asda — owned by Wal-Mart — to branch into other electronics, including televisions and media players. The gadgets will hit store Asda shelves by the end of the month.
Every day for 100 days, I will paint one branded object white, removing all visual branding, reducing the object to its purest form. Each object may be purchased for less than $10, something I own, something another person gives me, or something I find.
See if you can identify each of the objects despite their lack of branding. Read more…
Reuters is reporting that US-based investment firm TPG Capital has expressed interest in pouring $1 billion into Olympus in a joint deal, and has notified other possible suitors including Sony, Canon, Fujifilm, and Panasonic.
Nearly all of Olympus’ profits are generated from its dominant 70 percent share of the global market for flexible diagnostic endoscopes. The steady cash flow from that business has allowed it to prop up its digital camera business, which is on course to lose money for a second straight year.
TPG would consider taking over the other less desirable parts of the firm to facilitate a deal. This could include the digital camera operation, which is in need of a major overhaul, including job cuts, the person said.
It’s interesting that the camera division is one of the “less desirable parts” of Olympus, since that’s what most consumers know the company for.
Many potential buyers are also weighing the value of Kodak’s brand-name since there’s been a lot of talk that it may consider filing for bankruptcy. For now the company plans to restructure out of court.
Kodak’s brand name (not its patents) could easily generate more than double Polaroid’s sales price, said Jamie Salter, the CEO of Authentic Brands. “There are a lot of categories that Kodak could attach its name to. People would feel very comfortable using Kodak paper,” said Salter.
Like Polaroid, Kodak has brand cache all over the world offering potential buyers the opportunity to tap global markets.
The Polaroid brand name sold for $88 million in 2009 after Polaroid the company declared bankruptcy in 2008.
Olympus has been in the photography game since introducing its first camera back in 1936, but its future as a major player is at risk now that the company is caught up in one of the largest corporate scandals Japan has ever seen. According to Reuters, the company is reviewing its business structure, and there is speculation that it may be forced to sell off assets to survive.
While the company may be best known for its cameras, its actually built around a $2.6 billion endoscope business, of which it virtually holds a worldwide monopoly. Its camera business, on the other hand, is operating at a loss. According to investment bankers, other camera manufacturers are following the Olympus saga closely, but will likely hold off on making a move until things clear up more.
Ever wonder why certain people always seem to engage in meaningless Canon vs Nikon vs et al. camera brand debates at every opportunity? A recent study conducted at the University of Illinois has found that the more knowledge and experience you have with a particular brand, the stronger your self-esteem is tied to it. Ars Technica writes,
Those who had high self-brand connections (SBC)—that is, those who follow, research, or simply like a certain brand—were the ones whose self esteem suffered the most when their brands didn’t do well or were criticized. Those with low SBC remained virtually unaffected on a personal level.
The residual effect of this is that those with high SBCs tend to discount negative news about their favorite brands, and sometimes even ignore it altogether in favor of happier thoughts.
So that’s why feathers are so easily ruffled when camera brands are bashed…