Canon has a problem. I know you do not believe that, but they do. It's a perceptual problem, and it could seriously affect their revenues and ability to fund the necessary R&D in the years to come. Such things have happened before, and often companies, even if they were on the top of the world, NEVER recover (Kodak?) So...seriously...touch screens and touch UIs?
Canon has a perceptual problem? That depends on who is doing the perceiving. If you're referring to CR Forums and similar places, perhaps. Perceived 'poor sensor IQ' is an Internet forum problem Canon has had for years. Hasn't affected their market share, though.
As dtaylor stated, the analogy to Kodak is a red herring.
Seriously, touch screens and touch UIs. Entry level cameras have them. Canon wants people to upgrade, and people don't like to give up features to which they're accustomed. Omitting basic features which a majority of their customer base expects to be included (a category into which touch screens fall, but low ISO DR does not) would certainly 'seriously affect their revenues and ability to fund the necessary R&D in the years to come'.
I'm actually referring to real photographers I know out in the real world. Most are portrait, wedding, and event photographers. The majority of them already moved to the D800. Some are now seriously considering the D810. Others moved to Pentax (ironically, they really liked the small lenses most, but they also liked the IQ and shadow lifting ability.) The last several photographers I've encountered at the places I do my wildlife and bird photography, not one single one had a Canon camera. None had anything good to say about Canon. The only guy who DID have a Canon camera is an old friend who has haunted Cherry Creek State Park with a 7D, 5D III, and a 500mm f/4 L for years.
I also take my knowledge here from all over the net. Not just here on CR...there is a VERY strong, powerful pro-Canon stance here, obviously, as one would expect. The story is not the same on DPR forums, Fred Miranda, photo.net forums. There is a strong and growing presence of members on those forums who are, just like myself, wondering when Canon is going to do something about overall still photography image IQ.
The PERCEPTION is that Canon only cares about video now, and that they no longer care about the still photographer. That, fundamentally, is the biggest thing I've gathered, from real life photographers I know as well as the mounting trend on photography related internet forums. People perceive Canon as having forgotten about the still photographer, and as putting all their resources, both in video/cinema specific divisions as well as the DSLR/photography division, into video and video alone.
Is that a wrong perception? Looking at all the facts
laid out behind us, it's really hard to think anything different. Starting with the 5D II, Canon dropped a video DSLR that sold TONS, and became one of the most popular DSLRs in history...because of the video features. Since the 5D II, the major "newsworthy" (I use that term, because when you dig into the image sensor world, most of the news sites, blogs, etc. pretty much ignore Canon, all the news is from Sony, Atpina, Omnivision, Samsung, Panasonic, Toshiba...basically everyone BUT Canon) image sensor improvements have all been...yup, video related. The 7D II has long been rumored to be a major VIDEO update. Canon has invested a significant amount of money and resources into their EOS Cinema line, including major send-in firmware updates, dual-pixel AF, etc.
I believe the 1D X and 5D III are excellent cameras, and I love the 61pt AF system. I wish the RGB metering system was also included in the 5D III...I've had a couple tough times with 5D III metering where it kept exposing rather high, when it shouldn't have been. I finally switched to full manual mode to solve that problem, but I shouldn't have had to. But aside from the 61pt AF system, and the full RGB metering sensor of the 1D X...what other major STILL photography innovations has Canon created since the release of the 1Ds III and 5D II? Even the sensors in the 1D X and 5D III only had minor evolutionary changes, some could be considered cheats (i.e. thinning of the CFA dyes to make them more transparent). They aren't bad, they do their job well enough, but they aren't as good as the competitors. And the 1D X and 5D III not having significant IQ improvements isn't a bad thing. Canon really did listen to their customers with those two cameras, and delivered what their customer demanded. But the video innovations that have found their way into actual marketable products that Canon is selling far outnumber the number of still photography innovations that have actually found their way into a camera. Even on the video front...Canon's innovations are getting trounced by the likes of Red and friends.
However, the 7D II is years past it's due date. We are now WELL into the era of significantly improved sensor IQ. We are now WELL into the era of significantly improved DR. My point, in all of my comments, is that a touch UI is not
the thing Canon NEEDS
to focus in, and it shouldn't be the one feature that people use to decide whether to guy the 7D II or not. If the 7D II hits the streets with the same old "classic" Canon sensor technology...that, in my honest
opinion, is a MASSIVE FLUB!!
Not only a massive flub, but a dangerous flub, for a company that appears to be increasingly perceived as no longer caring about fundamental photography IQ, and instead is obsessed with video (and, as you say, maybe also selling the cheapest cameras possible to the greatest number of consumers....as far as I am concerned, if that's all Canon focuses on into the future...creating cameras with neat little features that attract the bottom up while ignoring the things their true photography customers are demanding, then I'm going to lose interest...because as someone who is very serious about their photography, I'm going to be left behind as the rest of the HIGH END photography technology from every other company moves past me at light speed.) Canon can't forget about their pros and serious photographers in an attempt to attract more bottom-rung consumers. They may rake in the dough...but they will lose their reputation as a photography company that actually cares about photography and image quality.
(BTW, your point about low level consumers being tied to their fancy touch screens and touch UIs...that also applies to high end consumers and professionals, which has also been a point I've been trying to make. Consumers are fickle, they jump from thing to thing, one year they may have a Canon Rebel, the next a Nikon, and the year after that some entry level Sony mirrorless. However, if Canon pisses off their long term, loyal customers who have been using their DSLRs, in the same way with the same menu system and same old "archaic" buttons and dials for YEARS, by doing anything to upset the fundamental functionality of their DSLRs...how do you think THAT would affect their bottom line...or worse, their reputation
? It's more important that Canon keep what works with the professional level cameras (xD series), and fix the things their high end customers are demanding, than to filter low end features that fickle consumers demand up to the high end. If they do, fine...but it isn't what I, as a very serious photographer who cares very much about my image quality, believes they should be putting any amount of effort into. I would MUCH rather put every ounce of spare resource they have into competing on the core technological front, and give Canon users a major boost in sensor IQ across the board. The time has come for Canon to address more than just the bottom line.)