Jrista, I never said the version 2 is the same lens with some updates.
Well, I quote (underline emphasis added to clarify):
What we're really talking about here, is a lens going from approximately $8,000, to $13,000.
I don't know any other way to read that than to mean you consider the 600/4 IS II to effectively be the same lens as the 600/4 IS, and thus account for a "a lens going from approximately $8000 to $13000". The 600/4 IS II has only ever had a single price in USD...$12,999. It was never introduced at $8000. The 600/4 IS was also introduced at $12,999, and after a period of some years
did it drop to around $8000, and $4500-6500 on the used market.
By your logic, the next leap forward in price, given inflation and the supposed added costs of R&D, for a version 3 lens a decade from now, would be...what? $45,000? Or rather, in terms of what the dollar will actually be worth at that time...$1 trillion?
The price will be whatever the market can bear 10-15 years from now, factoring inflation and a countless number of other factors. Canon obviously does not believe the market can bear an increased price for the 600 II, and given that the conversion rate between dollars and yen is very similar to what it was a decade ago right now, it seems to think $12,9999 is the market bearing price. Assuming the only thing that changes over the next 10-15 years is USD inflation, the exchange rate with the yen changes accordingly, then the price could be around $16,500-$18,000. If key commodities increase in price, such as magnesium, titanium (base metals) increase in price considerably (which is not an unlikely scenario, given how much more we use these high end materials in more and more products consumed by greater and greater populations), then I don't think it would be all that surprising for the price of the lens to reach as high as $20,000 in another decade.
There are so many other factors that could affect price as well. Worker wages (these lenses are hand made once the key parts like lens elements and barrel parts are manufactured...all assembly is entirely done by hand) could play a key role in the price in the future. Import/Export taxes, regulations by any major country that these lenses are sold in, etc. etc. could all have an impact on the price in the future. The world is a regulatory beast these days...consumers and corporations bear a very burdensome cost of high regulation in most major countries, and that has a measurable impact on the cost of products like this. If the world ever finds it's financial footing again (an outcome I highly doubt, fools run everything these days), we could experience a deflationary period that would normalize the world to a previous state of fiat currency value, inflation, regulation, etc. which would allow future prices to be the same as or cheaper than they are today. If the opposite occurs, prices could be far higher. If hyperinflation occurs in a few countries, which isn't implausible or even all that unlikely given the financial state of so many countries, prices could skyrocket, and who knows what things might cost...$100,000, a million, several million...for a lens like the hypothetical 600 III?
What rare earth metals are used in the manufacture of these lenses? Is a lot of platinum or palladium used? Cerium, perhaps for polishing? I assume lanthanum is used, perhaps for coatings...has the price of these skyrocketed recently? I wonder how much of the actual cost to manufacture a lens, goes for rare earth elements? I doubt it's all that high of a percentage. Aside from R&D, the cost usually goes to energy, tooling and labor...especially since these aren't made by industrial slaves in China.
Rare earth and precious metals are used a lot more these days in high tech electronics, circuitry, etc. I don't think platinum or palladium are used, the primary industrial use for those metals is automobiles. Gold is usually used for extra-die wiring and interconnects, bus wiring, non-corrosive interface connections, etc. DSLR's are PACKED with electronics, and while the total volume of commodity metals (even including base metals like copper, usually used for on-die interconnect wiring in sensors and DSPs and other high performance ICs) is very small...a gram at most probably...the cost of precious metals like Gold and a wide variety of rare earth metals have increased by a factor of ten or more over the last decade. China was the primary producer of REMs until they decided to stop exporting them, keeping the vast majority of their production for use within their own borders.
There are some other REM miners outside of China, but not many. The primary use for such metals is in the manufacture of CFL and LED bulbs, and with the recent laws that have fully taken effect in the US to move from Tungsten to more energy efficient bulbs, the consumption of rare earth metals has skyrocketed while the supply and suppliers has plummeted. Molly Corp, a US corporation based in California, is the largest miner of REMs outside of China to replace the supply, but they have had a number of struggles. If struggles to mine REMs continue, the price of those commodities could continue to rise...and for some of them, the price is 20, 50, even as much as 80 times more than they were a decade ago.
I am not arguing that the new lenses aren't worth the current asking price. However, if that price ever comes down, what does that mean? Does that mean they were really worth whatever the market could bear, and after the newness wears off, the market can't bear so much? How much money, is enough for you? Will you ever have enough? I don't think I'll ever have enough disposable income to collect a full set of supertelephoto lenses like many seem to do, but you never know. I'm happy for you that you can. Not all of us can.
First, the price will remain high so long as the demand is there. From what I understand, when you order one of these lenses, it can be months before you actually get it, because they are in such huge demand that they cannot be manufactured fast enough, and all assembly and testing of each lens is done by hand. There is a pretty long waiting list for all of the new Mark II lenses (although a bit less so for the 300 and 400, as they hit the street a year earlier.) When all of the key consumers and professionals have their copy, demand will drop, probably rather precipitously, and the rebates will start to fly at that point.
The primary trigger for a significant drop in official price is when the R&D costs have been recouped for a given lens design. The 600 II costs $12,999 right now because it is in demand and Canon needs to recoup the costs involved in making it a significantly better lens than it's predecessor. When the current circumstances end, the price should drop. I wouldn't be surprised to see it hit $8,999 within three years. So long as Canon can make a reasonable profit and keep customers interested, the price will be as high as it can be. There is a certain amount of customer expectation in price, but ultimately they end up being what the market will bear. Everyone expected the price of the 5D III to be $2700. So many were surprised when it hit the street at $3500...but it is still selling like hotcakes, and sells even better when there are dips into the $3000 range. The market was certainly able to bear the $3500 price tag. It is still able to bear the $3000 price tag. Canon needs to recoup their R&D costs for their new line of DSLRs. Once they have, the official price of the 5D III will drop, maybe $2999. It's just how things work.