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Who dictates Nikon release schedule – engineering or marketing?

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Since I have no interesting rumors to report, I decided to share one of the emails I received recently - there is no way to confirm if this is all true: I was told that Nikon is already working on their 2012-2016 product line. The technology is already here and new product are fully developed and ready to be released - the actual announcement schedule is decided by the marketing department. Nikon usually is sending early samples to photographers to test 1 or 2 years before launching the product on the market (of course, under NDA). It seems also that Nikon and Canon agree on some product releases as well (timing, features, etc) - I have read this before, but could not find any references online.

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  • firsto

    Marketing always has the pper hand in these things…

    • Jose

      When in doubt, blame upper management. CEO and Board set the pace for Engineering and Marketing ;-)

  • D40-Owner

    It is part of the Japanese corporate culture that specific industrial cartels will agree amongst themselves on the global scheduling for introduction of products and technologies.
    This enables them to fight overseas competition in a coordinated way.

    You could easily have Canon developing the original anti-shake system, and Nikon inventing new coatings, and then they share technologies.
    From the consumer point of view, you just see innovative products coming from both companies roughly at the same time, and smashing foreign competition.

    This happens in the steel industry, the auto industry, etc.

    • http://www.dafyddowen.com Daf

      Although I would doubt this portion (Canon + Nikon coming to an agreement) as this post states – I have heard this about Japanese businesses before.

      • Banned

        I think in most capitalist countries, including Japan, that would be a grave offense to the so-called “free-market” laws and it’s punished by VERY hefty fines. At least in the US and Europe it is.

        • D40-Owner

          Very true. This would mean severe judicial punishment in USA or EU.
          However……. It is Japan. It is like no other culture.
          “Cartelization ” is an integral part of the Japanese business underworld, where decisions are made at dinner tables of exclusive clubs, not at board meetings.
          And NR Admin’s comment below is accurate, Nikon and Canon have pushed the envelope of the SLR and DSLR world together, always with similar products and technologies, and no other company comes close.

        • Zoetmb

          Although i don’t believe Nikon and Canon are doing this, it is absolutely not a violation of U.S. law.

          What they can’t do is agree to split markets (although even that is legal in some circumstances, like when movie studios split territorial rights among distributors, at least one of which they might own) or to collude on prices. It’s also generally illegal to dump products in a market for far below their value in order to obtain market share, although that’s hard to prove. Just about anything else is totally legal.

      • http://5dmark2.wordpress.com/ 5D Mark II TEAM

        What NR Admin has been told is something we also have found somewhere else…

        It’s pretty plausible that big corporations make special and secret agreements. Rest assured nobody will see a big ad about that :)

        Those special and secret agreements (when done) are only handled by the highest executives, and probably happens in many other companies too, not only japanese ones… But japanese companies are leading the tech development in most electronic fields… so it more likely to happens there.

        There was a specific brief and indirect “mention” to it by a Canon executive in 2009…

        Aside, they have MUCH more developments right now, but they cannot “burn” all what they have at once. That’s a business principle every executive perfectly knows.

        So the gradual process is something VERY common on most high tech developing companies.

    • http://nikonrumors.com/ [NR] admin

      really interesting, they don’t really have any oversees competition. This also means that no camera is better than another if they all share the same base technology.

      • T.C.

        That’s right. If Canon and Nikon work in colusion, one developing technology A, the other technology B, then swap so that their respective cameras have technology A + B., there is no product differentiation and thus no incentive for the consumer to choose Canon or Nikon over one another. This is definately NOT desirable in a for-profit-and-loss capitalist system, as the goal is to take (and keep) as much market share away from the competition as possible so that you earn vast amounts of money. You don’t share your money-making trade secrets with the opposition. If this is somehome Japanese corporate culture, given enough time and the complete removal of government intervention, this “culture” would be quickly abandoned.

        This false idea that only government intervention can prevent colusion and monopolies is bogus, and actually, in effect, serves to prevent the free market from correcting such colusion and monopolies.

        • PHB

          No, sharing technologies is actually encouraged under US law. It can even be an anti-trust violation to not license.

          Most large corporations have cross licensing agreements with others in their industry. GM cannot make a car without Ford patents or vice-versa.

          The convergence of technology is mostly because the companies are using the same manufacturing and component technologies. Canon’s CPU options are exactly the same as Nikon’s. And that sets everything else.

          BTW. the admin is way off base with the original post. Nikon has two separate engineering groups. One designs the product, the other figures out how to make it. Only half the lenses commissioned ever get a production slot. And there are different considerations for pro and mass-market lenses. For a lens like the 18-200 that will sell a million copies, they might invest an order of magnitude more effort in production engineering than the original design. For a lens that will sell ten thousand in a good year, the production engineering will be less.

          That process takes time and so I would totally expect the bulk of the Nikon 2012-2016 range to be planned out in advance. In some cases it will not be possible to make the prototypes in production for several years.

          For example, Nikon will absolutely definitely have a 50MP sensor in the works and pre-production samples in actual bodies. Making a single wafer of chips is something Sony will be doing to test out their production equipment. For test purposes a sensor with lots of duff pixels is going to be acceptable. But not for production.

        • borneoaddict

          “This false idea that only government intervention can prevent colusion and monopolies is bogus, and actually, in effect, serves to prevent the free market from correcting such colusion and monopolies”

          The free market rarely ‘corrects’ (this is in itself an overrated myth), in fact it often perpetuates inequal competition.

          I think the Canon – Nikon relationship is something to be scrutinized closer. It’s common for competitors on different stages of the curve to pragmatically ‘co-operate’ before the relationship oscillates into something different again. (this is also often the core principle of chinese business networks – or even, Apple & Microsoft a couple of decades ago). Economics could never be decoupled from political-social contexts. And remember, Japanese corporate culture is in some ways still influenced by the old Deming teachings….

    • Richard

      If the companies are agreeing on when to release products with certain features and at certain prices there are enormous anti-trust and other legal consequences involved…but it certainly seems beyond coincidence that they release such similar products.

      • Stephen

        Unfortunately anti-trust laws don’t exist much outside of Europe and the United States.

        • http://www.bythom.com Thom Hogan

          It doesn’t matter much where you do your collusion. It only matters that it impacts customers in the market being served. Otherwise, global companies would have easy ways to get around US and European anti-trust law.

    • santela

      I agree somewhat.

      I doubt if they are sharing technologies, but I’m sure they have some agreement on who to release what product during what time.

      It’s like how Canon got the great primes and Nikon got the nice zooms, Canon got the high megapixel affordable full frames and Nikon has the good focusing systems…

      A shame really, IMHO.

      • Greenwood_Geoff

        Agreed, each wants to slowly march up the MP line. If one tossed out a 60MP camera tomorrow it would be chaos and likely stagnation for a while since they may have topped out the MP for a DSLR with current tech.

        ..not saying 60 is the top, just used a random number

        • cirtap

          BUT???? Isn’t one about to release a 32MP soon? I keep hearing that…over and over again…and it makes me truly wonder…Why it truly seems like my favorite camera company..is a sleep at the switch right now…I hear nothing from Nikon…When it was suppose to be a new D4..D800..or whatever…it just seems these dumbass slow minded folks over therrrrrr…are going to drop D700S…WTF….and at 12.1MP WTF are they doing…IT truly makes me and others who want a NEW REAL FF CAMERA….at 18plus MP…think about going over to the Dark Side of the Force…CANON!!!

          • Tabitha Green

            There’s no way in heck that Nikon can make it through this autumn, this Xmas season, without releasing a d700-bodied camera with the 24mpx sensor in it. No darn way. The demand has got to be immense. (Personally, I don’t want to have to buy a Sony a900 or a Canon 5dII. D:)

          • Greenwood_Geoff

            A d700 body type at 18MP would be something to make me hit the buy button. I do not need any better iso/noise performance than the d700 currently has, I do not really need video or two memory card slots. I do want the virtural horizon though.

    • j0elc

      Its not just colluding, it’s also due to the principle of minimal differenciation

  • D40-Owner

    I can also add that in the company I work for (micro electronics design) the schedule driver is ALWAYS marketing and sales, never engineering.

    • http://www.dafyddowen.com Daf

      Similar for software – if us Developers are ready or not.
      I swear that management sometimes pick a date out of a hat!

      • canphoto

        No. They usually spin the ball or ask the 8 ball.

  • Mike

    Two camera companies come out with a flagship model capable of 102,000 ISO within a week of each other? That seemed well timed to me. Just like gas stations. Why are gas prices the same (essentially) at every retailer. Yes there is crude costs, but not everyone has the same refining costs/overhead to warrant the same retail price across the board.there is collusion in every industry.

    • John M

      Gas stations all charge similar prices because it is difficult to justify your gas costing more than the gas station across the street, particularly when the public doesn’t really care where their gas comes from (BP aside), sees no difference between gas suppliers, and the gas stations themselves advertise their prices on enormous signs that can be seen from blocks away.

    • http://nikonrumors.com/ [NR] admin

      same when the D90 came out with video, Canon’s model was out 2-3 months later.

      • mikeg

        This is because they are up on what their competition is doing many months in advance, not because of shared secrets, but insiders. I work for a software company and yearly we have meetings to discuss what the competition is doing and how we will react to it. Its just normal business. Let’s face it, both Canon and Nikon know a lot more about each others’ schedules than we do, but I don’t think that’s because of sharing.

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/7904589@N02/ Zenndott

          I’d agree with this comment. There is a lot written on the Japanese “communal” mentality, etc, etc. Yes, That element is stronger in certain social and business mechanisms than in other cultures, that does not mean the Japanese will not compete agressively against each other. It is like the Sumo world: wrestlers will through a match if a senior opponent is close to loosing his rank/status, but two wrestlers are both on the line to fall in rank, then a bout between the two is fought every centimeter.

      • Stevens

        If so, why no 5D MarkII equivalent from Nikon? Is Nikon helping Canon increase its market share?

        • nobody

          No 5DII equivalent from Nikon, right. But no D700 equivalent from Canon either!

          • BIF

            yea if you think about it, in terms of tecnology, both companies have the means to knock the other’s products out completely

            Canon has the sensor tech and the electronics know how to produce an FF high fps camera with decent AF. the 1d4′s AF has already shown itself, in the hands of those who have tinkered with its settings, to be awesome.. that could compete with the d700

            Nikon definitely can scale down the d3X to compete with the 5dm2.. but seriously they are really slow about this

            also the d3 came out when the 1d3′s early production runs were an outright disaster…ok that may be an accident on the part of canon but…mm

  • Eric Calabros

    if they release a model today that could release it in 2016.. what they release in 2016?

    • Tabitha Green

      …they release a flux-capacitor-enabled camera that takes photos of Christmas That Once Was.

  • Anonymous

    Corrupt fat m-f***kers! Look at Samsung for example got busted couple of times for price fixing of memory chips and flat panels with other Asian companies. I totally believe that nikon is also involved in similar activities. This explains why they don’t hurry even though they lost market share. The next round is for let’s say Sony. Then the next will be Ni-con. Then the next again will be Canon. I hope the FTC and EU is watching these and start investigate them for unfair business practices.

  • Cowbell

    Canon and Nikon execs laugh their butts off at the fanboysim while they rake in millions.

    • Banned

      Exactly, that’s why fanboys should be hanged and rocked to death for being idiots. I have a Nikon but f**k Nikon! I would download their cameras off of Pirate Bay if I could. Ha!

      • FX>dx

        +1

  • Paul

    A couple years ago I had a long conversation with a Nikon rep (after D3/300 released) that was interesting, even if not very fruitful. She wouldn’t answer questions specifically, but if I posed the question in terms of abstractions that require a yes or a no answer then I got some clarity. I asked if it was safe to assume that Nikon is about three product cycles out in terms of research and development, to which she said after a long pause, “Yes, that’s about right.”

    My next question seemed to annoy her as I assumed that Nikon had pulled forth a product generation to release these great new bodies (that leapfrogged the competition. She basically said those bodies were released on their normal schedule (which I still doubt very much) and didn’t signify a power play on Nikon’s part. Also, she reminded me that Nikon is a glass company and by having superior bodies they would be assuring themselves of lifetime lens buyers.

    The D3/300 releases rocked Canon’s world and is proof that there’s not a whole lot of sharing. I assume that Canon had to reach forth deep into their next generation(s) to present the 1d MkIV and the 5d2 as worthy competition.

    • Michael

      To your commment: “she reminded me that Nikon is a glass company”

      First, I am not directing this at you in any way, please do not take it as such.

      If Nikon is a “glass company” why do we have so many problems (in the USA) getting the professional glass?

      I know there is no “answer” here, just posing a question.

      • amunk

        there is an answer. Someone in nikon japan misjudged demand in the United States for glass or, alternatively, determined they’d profit more by producing less glass.

        the shortage is the result of a conscious decision on behalf of Nikon. their goal was profit maximization at the expense of their customers.

  • acolade

    so why Canon`s DSLR video technology rocks, but Nikon`s sucks?

    • http://nikonrumors.com/ [NR] admin

      maybe this was the deal: we (Nikon) introduce video first, then you (Canon) make it better :)

      • NisseHult

        How long time has Canon sold Video-recorders and how long time has Nikon?

        If you want video in your DSLR canon is years ahead even if they share some technology.

    • Ola

      It is obvious; Nikon missed the Video trend, they do not have any sensors designed to output video!

      Realizing they were late to the game, they introduced a shortcut – record the live-view stream. Only new hardware needed is a microphone and a few of-the-shelf features for audio in the ASIC (maybe already in there).

      Such a sub-par solution could quickly be implemented. The consumer D90 model bet Canon to the market.

      But the Nikon recoded live-view solution is not ment for video, an as such is has some limitations, for example:
      1* Low vertical resolution
      2* Slow readout of horizontal pixels
      3* No horizontal binning

      1 gives you only 720p
      2 gives rolling shutter effect
      2 limits framerate (only 24fps)
      3 looses a lot of light

      To be fair, Canon does not do (3) either, an so throws away 2/3 of captured light. Also, with regards to ISO 1024 00, Canon just added this ‘feature’ because Nikon did, but Canons version IS unusable. It’s a on paper only solution.

      • Martijn Bouius

        canon has rolling shutter too right?

        • Ola

          Yes, but the effect is much less pronounced. Their readout speed has been measured to about 1/40 s, while Nikon is close to 1/24. HUGE difference as seen when panning.

    • http://www.mylesblankenship.com Myles

      Easy answer: The US Government.

      Nikon has huge contracts with organizations, from NASA to the Navy as well as just about every other government organization. You see all the smart/remote technology around? Cameras on police cars, surveillance, etc, ALOT of that video is done by nikon in some capacity. What does the Government want, something to be court admissible…That something is 1080i not 1080p, for it’s ability to pull a better still image. So, the consumer suffers at the expense of government once again. I was told from someone attending a meeting with a high ranking Nikon official, that they have: “….no immediate plans to change this philosophy.”

      Sucks!

  • D700 (feels like F3)

    Having core components for future products is OK. The key question is: can any corporation invest into productizing innovation and then wait years? My guess: no theyy can’t. That’s why innovations are brought in subsets i.e. different products to the market to obtain the market response on their attractivity. Once the customer priority is clear, it is all about customer loyalty i.e. up-sell.

    If any company would align schedules, then it is probably, because some innovations come from third party i.e. producers are assembling “only”.
    (any other commercial alignment is subject to legal infringement)

  • http://matthewsaville.com/blog Matthew Saville

    Sure, they’re fiddling around with the technology that will go into their 2016 camera, but I’d bet everything there isn’t a camera ready to go, just waiting SIX YEARS before the marketing department says the time is right.

    At the very MOST, a camera is completely finished just MONTHS before it is actually announced… The sensor or other features might be decided on a year or two or three in advance, but that doesn’t mean a finished product is sitting around for that long….

    =Matt=

    • Davo

      You seem to forget that it takes time to manufacturer the actual camera including time to re-tool the manufacturing machinery. If a company doesn’t have the hardware specs locked down at LEAST months ahead of schedule they’d be in a lot of trouble. Added to that the final testing phase.. U don’t think they got an almost-finalised prototype going there.
      I wouldn’t be surprised if a generational product such as the D# series is ready to go well in advance whereas products with trickled down technology are only ready far closer to release date.

      • greynol

        1992 called, they want your outdated beliefs on manufacturing ramp-up times back.

  • Ant

    Others have probably commented on this as well, but any collusion between Nikon and Canon would be highly illegal. Asian electronics companies are already being investigated by the DoJ in the US and the EU Commission for anti-competitive behaviour, so any tactical agreement between the two companies would be really stupid.

  • Sigmoid

    >The technology is already here and new product are fully developed and ready to
    >be released

    That sounds like bs to me. The technology may be there, but “fully developed”, I highly doubt that.

  • minivini

    As far out as 2016, I seriously doubt there’s anythin other than design goals and technology benchmarks to strive for – which would be nebulous at best. Technology doesn’t advance at a linear rate, and is not predictible enough to have actual
    products being tested for release that far out. Of course, to assume they are probably in advanced testing on the order of two generations out would be reasonable (ie something like the version of a body that will succeed the replacement of the D700). Based on prior release history, that is roughly four years out. Beyond that, there’s a high degree of probability that sensor technology, storage technology, image algorithms, viewing and reproduction vehicles will have changed enough that they may bear little resemblence to what we use today…

  • Dave

    I sincerely doubt if the 2012-2016 products are fully developed and ready for release.

    Nikon’s technology/product roadmaps between now and 2016 will be available, the underlying technology for 2012 will be under development. There will be research ongoing into the technology required to implement the late 2012/2013 products.

    Typically Marketing and Engineering have a lot of discussions about what the Marketing thinks is required and what Engineering think they can create. The further into the future you project the less precise the technology/product roadmaps become.

    Typically products are not available for field testing until around 6 months prior to the launch date, at that point the product is being fine tuned. Unless the release schedule changes there will be no major changes to the hardware.

    I would say that the credibility on this Rumor is around 0.

  • http://www.www.com Landscape Photo

    Manufacturers never deliver the perfect camera or lenses deliberately. They leave a reason for the user to upgrade. They also try to delay release of new products by milking the old stuff with minor upgrades, plus some intermediate ones.

    e.g. I’ve heard a D600 rumor, which is basically a cheaper, entry-level D700 with same sensor, but plastic body, pentamirror, less frame rate etc.

    I believe the 24mp D900 working prototypes must be ready for a year, but how many FX or DX models do we have to see before it will be released? D600 (12mp FX, old sensor), D700s (12mp FX, improved sensor ), D400 & D95 (16mp DX), D4 & D800 (18 or 21mp FX), etc.

    Life is not that long, Nikon !

    • Richard

      Here!!! Here!!!

    • e_dawg

      I doubt you’ll see 16 MP DX sensors in the D400 and D95. More likely, it will be 14 MP 1080p HD video sensors in the D400 and D95 from Sony (using their 14 MP Exmor HD sensors).

      As for the next FX sensor being 18-21 MP, it really depends on what Sony comes out with for their A900 replacement, but i don’t think they would reduce the MP count as they have standardized on 24 MP so far. The next Sony FF model will likely have a 24 MP 1080p Exmor HD video sensor, and consequently, that’s what you’ll see in the D4 and D800.

  • jerry

    Enough has been said about cooperation. Definitely illegal in the US and many other places, maybe more of a wink and nod kind of thing in Japan, hard to stop over a late night beer in Shinjuku.

    The other question is about “marketing” vs. engineering. I put marketing in quotes, because, in this case, marketing is really the proxy for corporate decision making. Those decision involve LOTS of factors. How is the current product doing? How much will it cost to get a new product into production? What is our cost of capital, and do we thing that may change? Where is the competition in their cycle? What’s the market risk with the new product? Are we better off skipping this version and getting the next one out sooner? How booked up are our product release and manufacturing start-up teams? How is the economy doing – should we release a new product during a recession? You get the picture. A major new product release is a HUGE, EXPENSIVE undertaking, involving lots of corporate resources, and is no doubt planned accordingly. “Engineering vs. marketing” is just a proxy for that entire planning process.

    • Sigmoid

      Don’t forget: How much of the “old” model do we still have in stock?
      If Nikon still has a couple of thousand of D700 they will try to sell them before releasing a new model. That’s probably also the reason for all those rebates.

  • tsnake

    Seems odd given the fact that we have all been sceaming for a 25 mg, D700 type camera with ISO 6400 or better for more than a year now.

    • rich

      ISO 6400 is so 2007.

      Anything less than D3s high ISO capability = not good enough. I’d like to have a sensor with 100% QE and no read noise. Hello, awesome looking ISO 1 million.

  • Matt

    I’m not surprised that the initial development stage needs to be at least 4 -6 years out. A certain engineering deadline would be set so that the prototype can go to the testing stage. Then a refinement stage, and another testing stage., and so on. Eventually the product will get approved for mass production. Somewhere in there, the factory needs to cease production of its last model and retool (reprogram the robots, build any new tools needed, assembly training for the staff on the new model, and whatever else is needed to get ready for a new product run). Concurrently, stockpiles of raw materials and compenents are being amassed, which takes time for sub-contractors to do their part, so they would have needed an advance warning and design specs. Finally, at a certain time, the factory will start producing so that there is enough of a stockpile of ready product established in time for the world wide annoucement and launch. With all of those steps to be done, 4-6 years doesn’t surprise me. And, just like in the Dilbert cartoons, the engineers are probably screwed over on timelines by marketing.

  • Cowbell

    Marketing always screws over engineering. While Canon and Nikon compete, I don’t think it is cutthroat. Notice how they rip off each other’s technologies but rarely sue each other. Look at cell phone makers, suing each other left and right.

    I shoot both systems and you fanboys really need to chill out, y’all been had and Nikon and Canon are laughing all the way to the bank when they read your die hard loyalty posts.

    I am loyal to myself, not either one of these companies that have overcharged me for this gear.

    • Nikonos

      Couldn’t agree with you more!!

  • alex

    now you start to invent posts? how about 2020? no rumors for 2020????
    that’s lame nikonrumors

    • http://nikonrumors.com/ [NR] admin

      Sorry to disappoint you – not sure what your expectations are and how you got to this conclusion. NR has 30-40k unique visitors every day – obviously I cannot make everybody happy.

      • j0elc

        Don’t even dignify the post with a reply…

  • Stephen

    So, I want to address two things here, the first being marketing controlling the release date. This is pretty standard for the course. Having been an engineer and a marketing manager for various tech companies, I see a real benefit to holding back technology. If you are in a business to make money, you will make the most possible money with each new technological development. Release dates are a balancing act and probably the most difficult to do, but it’s all about making money.

    The considerations are this, first, if you release too soon, did you loose sales on the previous product. Second, if you release too late, do your potential customers move on to a competitors product. Those are the two main points, but there are a few other important things to consider. Technology is all about obsolescence. I think most of us agree that there is a technical life to any body. As much as we like to think we can get away from the technology of the camera, if it allows someone to take better pictures, we are going to want it eventually. So how quickly do we personally buy as a need for upgrading?

    Well, there is a dichotomy in that question. One is how we buy according to gut feelings about the technology, and the other is how we buy with our head. Lets look at how we buy with our head first. In our head, we know there is a cost from buy too soon or too late. If we buy too soon, we pay a premium for new technology, which we know will be second string very soon. If we buy too late, we know we pay a price for having less equipment. So in our heads we come up with a balance, which is to buy a new body, every 2-3 product cycles (In a down turn it may be longer) well, if new products come out every 18 months or so (That’s because companies think it keeps them on track with Moore’s Law). That means if with buy with how we think we buy new equipment every 3-5 years. Now, because Moore’s Law states a doubling of technology, most companies come up with products far faster than they care to release them. So why not release them sooner? Well, that’s where our gut comes into play in our decision making. If technology it coming out fast enough, and we think there is a new feature coming out that we want, we will gladly skip a few more product cycles so that we can get what we want. If we know that it’s not likely out for a while, we will probably keep on our traditional buy cycle.

    So why is this all important, well we need to realize that there is a lot of understanding of human psychology that comes into decisions regarding release dates. So yeah, they have the technology sitting around doing nothing, but that alone gives them power.

    Now with that understanding, lets address the talk about a cartel between Canon and Nikon. In Japanese culture, strategic alliances are a fairly normal thing. Sometimes those alliances are public, sometimes they are private. I do not think though, they are going to share technology in the way that has been described. My evidence for this is how the technology is implemented on the two sides is very different. But sometimes they do share technology, for example Nikon using Sony sensors.

    What I think is going on is this. A company has a “bull pin” of products ready to go. For Canon, video in a DSLR was kind of a no brainer. The tech was sitting around in another department. My guess is it took a few interns a summer to make it work. Now, he comes Nikon, they actually had to work to make video. When they finally made it, they said, okay this is big enough that we need to release it ASAP. They looked at the product cycles and said, the D90 is the next shoe to fall, lets make it happen. Canon saw that and said, crap, we got scooped, okay make sure it’s in the next product cycle. My guess is this goes on every time a new product is released. Maybe it’s Canon releasing a huge ISO camera and Nikon going, what’s the spec on that, or release the same ISO cracken. So by delaying release of new technology, each company has made a buffer to keep from getting scooped so bad they are years behind the competition.

    • Victor Hassleblood

      Oh boy,

      you really must have too much time on your hands. I’m certainly not going to read this comment.

      • http://www.flickr.com/photos/7904589@N02/ Zenndott

        Actually, you should, because it makes more sense that many of the posts here.

        • Victor Hassleblood

          Have you ever heard someone say, he/she bought this or that ’cause it’s not too far behind? ? ? That sounds like a great marketing campaign: “I am not too far behind.”

          If Nikon delays on purpose, they are as stupid as hay. Don’t forget that the world isn’t entirely and for ever split in the same Canon and Nikon-Users with upgrade considerations, done by brain, guts and ass-feelings. There are many young people starting each and every year …

  • Greenwood_Geoff

    alex, in 2020 your camera will use multicolored lasers to measure the tone differences in what you are photographing. this means that in total darkness you will be able to get a clear image. the MP will range between 40 and 58. it will instantly upload it to your web page for sharing. AND will fit inside a cigarette package. ;- P

  • bonk

    i somewhere heard that NR is actually paid top-dollars by nikon to keep people talking about their cameras inbetween product-releases… i just cant find the reference anymore..

    *g*

    • http://nikonrumors.com/ [NR] admin

      Not a bad idea, Nikon – are you reading this?
      :)

      • Iceman

        I want some of that action

  • aetas

    I dont know if they talk to oone another, but id does make a little sense that the product developing would be out that far. I do not make either one but I would think the two would want to get most of the bugs out before the open market see’s it and that takes testing. So they need to get the prototype built so they can give it to the testers. The same thing happens when any new electronic comes out. When it is out it was yesterdays high end.

  • burak

    i dont believe in UFOs but one day if i see one, i wont be surprised..

    • Kevin

      In 2020 nikon going to make a lens that’s like 500000000000 mm and with iso 9692&2)792773992 you can take pic of an UFO :)

  • Kevin

    Think about it, if it takes every 4 year to release it takes 5 year to make.
    This is my own time line.
    1yr concept and working with sensor company
    2yr designing the prototype and begin to test it out in the late years
    3yr after 20 prototype later now they begin to sent to photographer for testing
    4yr testing it with photographer and fix tweak and bugs, and begin to manufacture the product.
    5yr still manufacturing for july release, while starting their new cam 5yr journey again…

    So I would say their already done with the camera, it’s in storage now waiting to be shipped out with my name on it :)

  • Ren Kockwell

    Having worked in highly competitive mega-corporate cultures before, I can say that secrets and intellectual property are taken VERY seriously. Granted, I have never worked in Japan, but I find it very difficult to believe that anything like this could legally go on in anything more than a very vague way without blowing up at some point. Everyone is out to make a buck, you keep close watch on your competition and if you’re good, you’re both neck and neck. There is actually little advantage to carrying matters out in as cynical and falsely conspiratorial fashion as is suggested here. I don’t doubt that C & N are working 4-5 years out. That’s actually quite common. But to suggest they are in collusion to such a degree is laughable.

  • T.

    Camera hardware is fairly standard and available tech in the consumer markets… they aren’t using bleeding edge tech in $1000 cameras.

    They just combine it all and hit a target selling price for a model where they believe there are buyers.

    We know what the options are for screens… the iPhone 4′s 300+dpi retina screen is known and available tech. When it hits the right per unit price, it’ll replace current screens, and I’m sure that’s in the plan.

    We know the options for sensors. The current ones fit the unit price for the model, and higher MP/ISO ones are known and/or available, but don’t yet hit the unit price for inclusion in a current model.

    Same with every part of a camera. Manufacturers assemble a $1000 MSRP camera out of known parts. Parts manufacturers (and researchers) are telling them what’s coming out next, and they’re planning accordingly even though they can’t make a camera at the price point to sell it out of better parts yet, they probably have some of the parts (plastic, magnesium bodies, software, controls) ready to go.

    Mirrorless cameras are an obvious known product waiting for tech to hit the right price/performance. A shipping 300dpi iPhone LCD panel means we’re getting closer to a useful electronic view finder, but 300dpi is “retinal” at 10-12 inches. EVFs at around 1 inch away may be waiting on even higher dpi screens at a reasonable price before they are considered worth releasing as a consumer product.

    If you want a $10,000 camera with the tech Nikon/Canon are going to use in the next 5 years in their $1000-$3000 models, you can probably find one from those manufactures in a bleeding edge market That’s not shocking news.

  • mick

    If they are sharing technologies, why is Canon image processor technology and video technology so much further along than Nikon? Of course they are not. Or maybe Nikon and Sony are in bed together?

  • Zoetmb

    Don’t be paranoid: Nikon and Canon are not sharing engineering, technology or anything else.

    And as far Nikon already having developed products for the next four years, that’s somewhat true for lenses, since they do take several years to design, engineer, cure the glass and manufacture, but it is most definitely not true for bodies. Do they have a four year technical STRATEGY plan in place? Sure.

    But they most definitely do not have models of cameras sitting in inventory that are going to be released over the next four years. Don’t be absurd. If Nikon had even the next model in stock, it would be released. They need the $$$$.

    But having said that, does Marketing decide the release schedule? Of course. Marketing decides the release schedule in every company. Name one large company where this is not the case.

    • Victor Hassleblood

      Zoetmb,

      I agree. No need to get paranoid. But that applies to marketing as well. Marketing also decides the direction, where future products will go and which path R&D has to follow. The release schedule is a completely different matter. If this was for marketing reasons only, we would see a lot of improvements much sooner. R&D takes it’s time no matter what the marketing wishes for – and often enough R&D is far behind schedule.

      “Name one large company where this is not the case.”

      I’ll name you two: Boeing and Airbus

      • Zoetmb

        OK, I should have said, “name one CONSUMER company where this is not the case.”

  • Anonymous

    Just because you can create something doesn’t mean there is a market for it and oddly enough it doesn’t always matter if it is better.

    Going back in time here but think of VHS versus Betamax which is arguably a better format.

  • http://www.photophil.ch Philippe

    Another vote for 100% marketing being in charge of setting the schedule and even some of the features that make it into the cameras or not! I don’t believe that there’s a lot of coordination in scheduling going on between Canon and Nikon, but they definitely watch each other very closely in this and other respects.

  • SNRatio

    Sort this out:
    1. Tech development sets the basic timeline, market considerations determine the exact release schedule. As many here point out.
    2. In evolving tech, nobody is more than about 2 years into the future. Which may explain much of Canon’s recent moves in response to Nikon’s offerings, and a bit vice versa. Half-baked video in D90? Nikon had to, Canon was about to release 5DII.
    3. They know fairly well what others are doing, but you can’t infer cooperation or espionage from that. More, that they are extremely good at reading signals and putting pieces of info together. D90 example: Nikon knew Canon would update the 5D soon, it was overdue, really, and they could be quite sure it would involve video. I feel quite sure that everybody in business is taken by surprise now and then. For example, I’m not sure Canon knew the details of D3s sensor performance in advance with the 1DIV, otherwise they wouldn’t have been beaten flat on important parameters, I think.
    4. They ARE competing, but they try to do it in non-destructive ways, in common interest. For instance, it has taken a long, long time for Nikon and Canon to get to the point where their models compete squarely against each other, like they are are increasingly doing now.
    5. Patents etc are real hindrances, and my guess is that most “technical cooperation” is really skilful reverse engineering. Which you will probably never learn fully about until you are in the innermost circles.

  • Anonymous

    Come on people, think Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. Just because the technology exists there is no reason that it must be released to us peasants. For all we know both Canon and Nikon are shopping ISO 200,000 night vision 45 mp sensors to the highest bidder, aka, not you and I. Do you think we will able to but the same stuff as NASA or the military?

    The fact is people will do whatever they can get away with to make as much money as they can. Collusion or not, there is a hell of a lot going on that we will never ever know about.

  • M!

    i am sure any company would hold their products until they have made enough with the current product. no point in pushing their own products off the shelf when the consumers are still buying.

    in a Pro camera, the product cycle is now 2 years with DSLR, versus something like 4-6 years on film cameras. they can sell me one every 2 years and I am happy not have to buy one yearly (but in fact i bought a D3X and then a D3S in 2008, 2009).

    there are always talks under the table for these companies. it is strategic and they are always the winners.

  • ashley dudd

    I think, no d700 succssor will come out in this year because of the patent issue. Nikon do not own or licensed 1080p video so they have to nigotiate with the other company. Patent nigotiation is about “give and take”. Nikon should give up their key technology for 1080p. If nikon do not have anything that the competing company interest, you will never see the 1080p on the nikon DSLR. But I think Nikon has prenty of them like 14-24mm or 200-400mm things.

    • Zoetmb

      There is no patent on the number of pixels you choose to record or display any more than you could patent 36mm x 24mm as the 35mm film size. (In fact, the opposite happened. After WWII, Douglas MacArthur wouldn’t let Nikon export the first Nikon rangefinder to the U.S. because the 32x24mm 7 perf frame size wouldn’t fit Kodak slide mounts. That’s why Nikon switched to 34x24mm 8 perfs in the Nikon M and Nikon S and finally to the standard 36x24mm in the Nikon S2. And Edison tried to patent his film sizes for motion pictures in the U.S., but the courts through it out in 1902.)

      1080p is a standard and you can’t patent a standard. You can patent a circuit design to accomplish the standard, but there’s many circuit designs that will accomplish a standard. There is tons of 1080p equipment out there, so I have no idea what you’re talking about. Apple even got 720p into the latest iPhone with an incredibly tiny lens and sensor. Nikon can certainly get 1080p into a high-end still camera and will have to, because I think we’re only another year away from 1080p in phones (albeit with tiny lenses and sensor and poor dynamic range.)

      • Zoetmb

        Obviously that should have been “threw it out”.

      • ashley dudd

        You know one but not all of them. 1080p standard does not required patent agreement. However, how to get the 1080p signal from the still camera image sensors are the part of patent. There could be many different way to do it. Unless you develop one for yourself, you should get the agreement from other developer.

        • e_dawg

          Sony knows how to do this and Nikon uses Sony sensors so they could just buy the 14 MP Exmor HD sensors from them for the next Nikon APS-C bodies. You can also bet that Sony is working on full HD for their FF sensor as well and will give that to Nikon but only after they launch their 1080p enabled A900 successor first.

  • Andrew

    I’m an electronic engineer working in microelectronics product design. I don’t think I’ve ever had marketing hold up a product release – they are usually screaming to get product six months BEFORE engineering is willing to deliver. Unless you believe the mega conspiracy theory, in a fast moving tech market there are very few instances where it would make sense to delay a product release, because there is always the danger that a competitor will release their version first. Sure there will be some preproduction models released to the press so that the reviews can be ready in time for the product launch. But nowhere near 1-2 YEARS ahead of launch.

    That said, cameras are complex products and the developent cycle is probably a couple of years for a new model even if it belongs to an existing family. So there will be a product roadmap, architecture documents, design specifications and probably some concept mockups (virtual or physical) floating around a couple of years before the product is released. Nikon will have a good idea what sensors its 2012/13 cameras will use, based on pre-production specs from Sony or in-house engineering. Same with any custom silicon (ICs) since these have a long design cycle of their own. But there is still a solid couple of years work before these things will be developed, integrated, tested and industrialised for production as a new product.

    • Victor Hassleblood

      Finally someone makes sense.

    • Stephen

      So… yeah, it really depends on the type of product you are working on. I’ve worked in non-consumer products and consumer products. In non-consumer products, companies want the best right now and are willing to pay for it (Most of the time). However, in consumer products, individuals are a lot more fickle. Fickle customers are the bane of most electronics companies because you don’t want to release products so fast that people hold off on buying (hoping for more features soon), and so slow that they switch to a competitor.

      Having working as a product manager a few times, yes I have held off on releases because there was more than enough money to be made on the older product. Why give away the cow, when you can have them buying your milk a cup at a time. Anyway, that’s my two cents.

      • Cadence SF

        There IS a perfect timing for product release. Giant processor makers will put out new product, and milk every bit of dollar they can from it before releasing the next one(the same goes for any other product, unless a company is lagging behind.) Read the lengthy post above about product cycle by Stephen. This is no news. Unless someone is trying to spread disinformation here.

  • Jabs

    Guesses here, it seems!
    The common link between Nikon, Canon and all the other manufacturers is their suppliers and workers at the Manufacturer’s factories.
    The LCD makers have to manufacture all the data that shows, for example and thus each gets a glimpse of what each manufacturer is making in a final product.
    I believe that Canon was trying to one-up Nikon with their bogus 102,400 ISO claim, while Nikon actually delivered a working 102,400 ISO. I don’t see them sharing data but I see it impossible to keep all your trade secrets intact when you have common suppliers pitching almost identical items at you such as CPU’s, LCD panels, motors, ICU’s and such.
    The suppliers of components are the common areas most often and since cameras are basically electronic computers now, then any new development is pitched to several manufacturers and all of them know this, but how they use it and when they do, is where the differences often come about.
    I think we are getting a little paranoid or obsessed since Nikon seems to be not releasing much right now in bodies or rumors are slow.
    The similarities are something common in the digital age, as research and development of products are more software driven now, hence more similarities than differences. I don’t see it as a ‘cabal’ but more of them both reaching their current limits of technology and trying to outdo the other in ways that are cost effective. Sometimes, they use new technology and at other times, they use or refine existing technology.
    The D3s represents a further refinement of current technology by Nikon, while Canon Mark4 represents a new technology, but Canon was surprised by Nikon’s ability to push the envelope in ISO beyond their ability.
    Same in HD video – I don’t see a great deal of difference between Nikon and Canon on HD video, as 720 is scalable to 1080 and thus marketing trumps one over the other. Nikon to me, has wisely limited its’ cameras to 720 as the processing power to handle 1080 correctly is not there yet on DSLR’s from any manufacturer, so Nikon focused on still image performance instead. In the next generation of cameras, I believe that better processors will allow 1080 and above but the costs will be very high. People talk about Canon releasing a 32 megapixel DSLR, but I don’t see that, as it would cost about $12-15K in my opinion and thus represent diminishing returns.
    Engineering is impossible to hide from everyone, but similarities often represent the pushing of the state of the art, leaks between manufacturers and suppliers plus similar thoughts between engineers. Nikon and Canon are two distinctly different companies and have always looked closely at each other and then tried to one-up each other.

  • Zorro

    There’s nothing like a good conspiracy theory to occupy the mind when there are no rumors.

    • j0elc

      Not so much conspiracy theory as misunderstanding…

  • Catastrophile

    The Nikon & Canon managers of competing products (say D90 vs 550D) sit together and they discuss which features each is willing to cripple in the camera in question.

  • longtimenikonshooter

    I don’t care what and how they do it. as long as they announce a product, they should have that product reasonably available for us to purchase.

    • Steve H

      What’s the fun in that? Then the camera companies, dealers and end-users will all be happy at the same time. That probably hasn’t happened since Nikon shipped the D3 and D300 in quantity.

      Steve

  • Morg

    yaaaaawn back to bed even all my photo magazines are boring these days wake me up when something exciting happens this year or next!

  • Anonymous

    Who dictates Nikon release schedule – engineering or marketing?

    Let me guess… Canon engineering ?
    When they released the 5D MkII they just stucked Nikon with no straight answer for about 2 full years.

  • http://www.truphotos.com gnohz

    Thanks for sharing the interesting mail. I’d love to take a look at the 2012-2016 roadmap, just like the 2009-2010 one :D

  • cirtap

    EVEN a Canon Camera at under 900 dollars has 18MP??? RIGHT??? IF Nikon puts out D700s or x..at 12.1MP…it tells me these numbskulls have zero clue.AND i will be glad to give my funds over to Canon….

    OH PLEASE NIKON GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER…Hey to the owner of NR…go over to Japan…and go to the headquarters of Nikon and ask them numbskulls…what is coming up…I will put in .50 cents in collection plate of buying you a ticket….

    • cashs

      Who cares about megapixels, 18mp is a waste for general photography. There’s a reason why Nikon is selling cameras with 12mp sensors in them. You’re hardly going to print a pic the size of a football field. I’d be happy with 10 megapixels or even 8, if it was for improved dynamic range and low light performance. 18mp photos are a waste of space as it is, I don’t even want to think about medium format cameras….

      • Anonymous

        cashs – the only reason Nikon is selling 12MP because they do not have a sensor that goes beyond that! If more than 12MP is not good, then why did Nikon use the sony 24MP sensor in the D3x and sell it 2-3 times the price of an 5DMKII or A850 or the D700 (but this one is just 12MP)? Read a little bit more about the D3x and you will find out that for some weird reason that 24MP produces better images than a 12MP.

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/friedtoast/ Fried Toast

          Perhaps better images, but at the cost of speed and ISO ability, right? I think Nikon saw an avenue where they could clearly hit a homerun and went that route. If they had left that, they would probably be in a dead heat in the MP *and* ISO race. As it is, they are winning the ISO bit handily, albeit at the expense of those of you who are wishing for more MP.

  • nebeginner

    Product Management, sometimes referred to as “Marketing”, is responsible for what products to market, and when. Under the “Marketing” umbrella would be consumer research, brand management, marketing, etc.

    Research and Development figures out how to make the products Marketing wants, as well as works on new features and benefits, new or improved technology, etc. Ideally R&D has all kinds of neat new toys, bells and whistles in various stages of readiness, so when Marketing asks for something to address a specific consumer need, it’s either ready or close to it.

    Planning what products you need, product lines, brands and sub-brands, 3 – 5 years out, gives R&D the blueprint on what to be working on.

    Engineering can be another name for R&D, or it can be part of Manufacturing. You see, just because Marketing wants it, and R&D can make it, Manufacturing has to figure out if it can be made to the right quality standards, in sufficient quantity to meet forecasts, and at a cost that delivers the profit margins the company needs to make the whole thing worth while.

  • Anonymous

    Look at the other Japanese giants like Toyota and Honda, They don’t release new models of the same category at the same time. If one of them release a new model, the other will wait until sales of particular model resides to a certain level or after a new model refresh. One of the reason is to maximize their product cycle, but on the other hand, they are also well aware of their customer life-cycle. And I feel the same goes for Canon and Nikon. It’s all planned and executed in their marketing strategy.

    R&D may have completed their homework long ago. But at this moment, NIkon is probably having a huge “seihan” battle internally, between their manufacturing and sales/marketing, on their production capacity vs marketing targets. They are probably having issues with production line capacity and logistics issues, and probably need additional investment. The management is trying to sort it out, but it takes time, and therefore the huge unavailability of stock and delay of a new products.

    • Stephen

      Actually, this has less to do with coordination and more to do with laziness. Most of the companies see no need to re-invent the wheel. So once the company has moved on to a new and better thing, they sell off the older advancement to the other companies. That’s why no one in Japan actually makes a Hybrid Engine, except Toyota. Everyone else buys Toyota’s previous generation Hybrid Engines.

  • Fredbare

    What’s wrong will collusion?
    The Banks and Insurance companies have been doing it for years in full view of all the governments – yes including US and European – and nothings been done to stop it..

  • i_want_a_D900

    The Ministry of Industry in the Japanese Governement has been indeed coordinating “collusion” ever since WW2. It is their policy to collectively enhance the compeitive of Japanese industries as a whole. And it worked wonderfully well for them for many decades.

    Many core technology between the two companies are very similar as well:

    Nanocoating vs Sub-Wavelength micro coating (24/1.4L II)
    VR versus IS
    ED vs UD

    I would call Canon and Nikon a duo-poly. To be honest Canon and Nikon each had their oppotunity to finish off each other if they really wanted to. They just won’t do it.

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