WARNING: I just re-read my post before posting it, and man
does it sound like a long, boring lecture! My intention is just to contribute something thoughtful to the discussion that hopefully makes sense and perhaps spawns further thoughtful discussion, so I'm posting it anyway.
And with that...
Which is bad news for us since they will be able to get away with 2005 sensors in 2025 and marketing dribbling out things over 20 years (so far it's been more than 10 years and they still haven't finished dribbling out something as simple, basic, and zero cost as a truly functional AutoISO, certainly not for anything less than 1 series).
A friend of my brother used to work for Sandisk. He couldn't divulge details about what was in the release pipeline but said that we'd be simply amazed at the tech they had ready for prime time but wouldn't be released for a couple of years. Like Sandisk, any tech company that wants to survive in the long term will do this. You have to have years of new tech in the pipeline to stay competitive.
From a business perspective, there are a number of sound reasons to use this strategy:
- Releasing new generations of tech too rapidly can sometimes make people feel like they just wasted their money because something newer and better just came out. If the expensive new gear is suddenly obsolete, you're less likely to shell out next time (or be tempted to keep waiting for another generation, delaying your purchase -- and revenue to the company).
- Delaying release of new tech can allow more time to recoup R&D costs, improve production processes and ultimately make products cheaper (how often do we comment about how cheap data storage is these days?).
- Reserving technology for future release helps to even out the peaks and valleys of advancements in technology from new research. It may be a year or two (or more) before a new technology makes it from research to prototype to mass manufacturing. By waiting to release on a more regular "upgrade path", it masks the varying rate of new development and helps keep the revenue more steady.
- In most cases, a company tries to capture revenue from multiple markets, often stratified by level of income or discretionary spending. By putting all the whistles and bells in one product, lower markets that represent additional revenue would be lost. Hence, inferior but cheaper products are created to satisfy those market segments.
- One company can't always predict what technology a competitor will release and when. Having a pipeline of technology in waiting allows the company to respond with something when a competitor advances. In general, market leaders (Canon) can wait and follow a road map, while competitors (Nikon) tend to release new tech more rapidly as they fight for market share (the rapid pace can also bring quality control issues along for the ride).
Of course, knowing and understanding all of this doesn't make it any easier to wait for the next generation of tech to be released! I want it "now" just like most other people.
This is where competition is good for the consumer -- it can sometimes nudge a company to release things sooner than planned.
One thing to remember is that the actual tech a competitor releases isn't necessarily the driver for a company to release something in response. From a business perspective, it's that tech's impact on the company's revenue or market share
that tends to drive it. If Canon has technology for sensors with higher dynamic range (I don't know if it does or doesn't), then it would make sense to have it scheduled for release along a planned timeline and only bring it to market sooner if/when revenue and/or market share suffer
I often see comments in this forum about "the marketing department" crippling features on a particular model or "milking this sensor as much as they can", et cetera. I share the same impatience for new tech that motivates such sentiments, but Canon is a business first. It's not a community of do-gooders seeking to produce the pinnacle of photographic technology in a single device. This is also why, in business, a company is referred to as "it" and not "they".
The role of the marketing department is to identify and understand as much as possible about the people to whom they want to sell products. Individual decisions about which features go in and which are withheld may be informed by that marketing research, but product managers who report to vice presidents and executives make those types of decisions -- not the marketing team. It's a pain, but milking a technology for awhile is ultimately better in the long run for impatient consumers like me.
Whew! If you managed to read this far, you have stamina and a healthy attention span -- and my sincere apologies for putting you through such a long post!