These threads pop up occasionally and often sales volume, market share and profits are quoted to try and prove one sensor or camera company is better than the other.
This information is good if you are considering buying Canon stock CAJ but absolutely worthless in determining who has the best camera or sensor.
However, I was never trying to use market statistics to prove Nikon was selling more, or that their cameras were better period. All I was trying to demonstrate before was that Nikon has closed the gap on Canon's market lead. A gap that used to be very significant, has now shrunk to ~5%.
I think it is just as simplistic to look at past market performance where market shares fluctuated, and assume there weren't very specific reasons for why those market shares fluctuated. What happened in 2006, 2007, 2008, that caused changes in Canon, Nikon, and Sony market share?
I'm looking at data since the end of 2011 (the last year Canon had a huge market share lead). Since then, the 1D X, D4, 5D III, 6D, D800/810, D600/610, A7, A7r, and A7s have all been released. In 2012, the year several very key camera models were released (the year covered by the 2013 financial report I found), Nikon ILC unit sales skyrocketed from a little over 4 million to a little over 6 million. That is 50% growth, in a single year. (I thought it was last year, but it was the year before...which honestly makes more sense given all the camera releases that year.) In the last two years (2013 and 2014), markets have contracted, particularly in the P&S submarkets. Nikon was utterly pummeled there, with over 50% losses to Canon's 30% losses, but they fared much better on the ILC front. Nikon lost a little over 20%, Canon lost a little under 20%.
Today, instead of a 15% differential in market share between Canon and Nikon, according to Hogan's report, there is about a 5% differential. I cannot say for certain why the market changed like that. However I can speculate. I think a reasonable, educated guess at why the market dynamic has shifted is that Nikon has produced some great cameras. They took advantage of better technology, and it seems to have helped their market position. One should expect so. It's quite clear that not everyone cares about getting the best image quality out of their cameras, however I think it's entirely baseless to assume that no one cares about getting the best image quality out of their cameras.
I claimed the market difference between Nikon and Canon had shrunk from the last concrete reports that demonstrated a large differential between the companies. Tom Hogan's report backs up that claim. Maybe it's simply a "restoration of an old market status." Perhaps. I don't think that matters, as I don't think that any market shift, old or recent, happens without cause. I see a strong correlation between the 2012 camera releases and a rapid change in market share for one particular company.
If all that is proof that I'm just dead wrong to some of you, so be it. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. My opinion is, Canon is severely lagging behind in the one piece of technology that the photographer themselves cannot control to improve IQ: The sensor. When it comes to focusing, or metering or choosing the right exposure, or camera shake and the use of IQ, or any other factor that affects IQ, the photographer has control. If the photographer knows how to control those things, then they can maximize IQ...but only up to the limitations of the hardware. Canon's hardware has a lot more limitations than their competitors. I believe that is a FACT, backed up by multiple sources of data (so pick whichever one you don't hate). I believe Canon has the technology to improve their sensor IQ, but they don't. I think their, lethargy, in that department DID allow some sales to move to Nikon and Sony models. (I know for a fact that there are a number of people on these forums who have already added other brands or switched entirely.) I think that in the long term, market share dynamics could continue to shift.
That's what I wanted to say when I posted the previous financial thread. It's nothing complicated...it's rather simple. Since 2012, a major release year for high end DSLRs, market shares have changed. Canon's share has shrunk from around 45% to 40% or less. Nikon's share has grown from less than 30% to as much as 35%. Sony has also gained a few percent. My point, the only real point I wanted to make, is that Canon no longer has a landslide market share position, and I think there is a reason for that. If Nikon doesn't continue to make manufacturing blunders, if Sony can strengthen their A7 series offerings, and if they continue
to improve on all fronts
(sensor, AF, metering, ergonomics, video features, etc.), then Canon's ultra conservative stance of minimally evolving one or two features at a time on products that have 3-5 year lifespans could result in a dramatic market share shift in the future.