I feel for the guy who sold his 400mm, because even in good times every dollar counts. But I think you have to assume that part of the reason you buy Canon L-grade equipment is because it's a bit of insurance of the value. (Well, unless it has a green ring around it, I guess.)
OOPs, i'd bet that someone made a wrong setup and a whole lot of parts were made incorrectly. Thats the thing about computer controlled machinery
No, that's the thing about making blind guesses with apparently no idea how production processes actually work. Production oopsies happened all the time in the analog age as well - going from the drawing board to the factory floor is never straightforward, and if anything computer design makes some of these problems less likely. Ever heard of the DeHavilland Comet?
I'm putting it down to two likely possibilities:
1.) The production process currently in place works, but not at sufficient volume to ship enough product to retailer to avoid shortages (and the problems that further causes, like scalping)
2.) Production samples - meaning, just a few parts - were not up to quality and so they had to re-engineer some parts of the process.
Of course, it could also be a mix of these problems.
It's too early (and there isn't enough information) to make any concrete conclusions, but I wouldn't be too surprised if this signals even more capital-intensive (meaning expensive) production retooling is going to be the norm for the new high resolution systems. It kind of strikes me as similar to the deal with hard drive manufacturers, where to prepare for technology that won't be used for some years, a company has to invest a very significant (like 1/6 or more) of its capital into just retooling to stay afloat. If this is true, it means rough hiking for the smaller companies.
But Sigma and Tamron seem to have some competitive products coming at good, cheap prices, so it's hard to say what's going on. But I'd bet it's more likely that Tamron (for example, with the famous-round-these-parts "unparalleled optical performance" 70-300mm f/4-5.6
) is saving on features and maybe on quality more than Canon is overpricing by brand. But the tests will be the judge of that.
I think the quote is silly because every company has a production quality inspection process - it's standard practice in every industry to actually inspect the first items coming off the line to see if they actually are coming out as expected, especially when they are made to certain tolerances. scalesusa is suggesting that it'd be perfectly acceptable for Canon to make a bunch of parts without having even having made a guess as to whether they fit the prototype. It's certainly possible for a bunch of parts to be made that don't fit with another part (like two gears), but they have CAD programs for that purpose, so the other part of the post falls apart as well.
Rare earth supply issues maybe? (No idea if they are needed in lens electronics but you never know)
If they're hedging their bets on the Yen weakening in the next few months.... bad hedge IMHO! (I'm in Japan)
The rare earths usually spoken of are used in the lens elements, not the electronics. I don't think any of the other elements used in the production of these lenses are particularly rare. The only thing that comes to mind is lithium for batteries, where some countries merely have more of it than most others.
Hmm, maybe that rare "redringobium" was being mined at a certain mine in Chile now shut down.
In any case, that'd be a supply problem, where Canon here has indicated a production process problem. But who knows, they might fudge the details to keep an advantage, I suppose. I doubt it though.
On the yen issue, I guess you could tell for sure by seeing if the products are being sold in Japan first. But I don't think Japan's market for lenses is so much smaller than the overseas markets that a huge shortage would mean they could even fill domestic orders. In any case, they try not to appear to play favorites because that would piss off their customers and people who like to invoke the memory of WWII.
In the case of playing games with the yen shortage, I think that Canon is a big enough company that it ought to have enough foreign currency reserves to be able to ignore currency conversion most of the time, or to only convert currency as needed for capital investment projects (of course, that may be happening here). But in the case of playing games with overseas shipments to squeeze the most value out of expensive currencies, I've seen Nintendo do just what you suggest by prioritizing shipments of game systems to countries with a more valuable currency, over some others. That seemed to have been rare, or maybe it was just a bigger example of that happening than normal. Nintendo is one of those companies that is reputed to have a lot of money, though, so the idea that they would have to game the exchange rate like that was a bit startling. For reference, Canon is about double Nintendo's size in terms of revenues and operating income, but employs many, many times more employees than Nintendo (nearly 167,000 compared to 4000+ at Nintendo).
Hope that's some help.