If we thought new lens prices were high... wait.....
We need to start making product here in the US and put our people back to work!!!!
Chinese labor is too cheap - won't happen.
It's probably more accurate to say that US labor is too costly.
Different side of the same coin.
Besides, Chinese labor is much more expensive than it used to be. Some firms packed up and moved further inland, while others relocate to other nations in S.E. Asia where labor cost is relatively cheaper.
And none of which amounted to moving jobs back to the USA... so....
There's a difference between saying Chinese labor is too expensive and US labor is too expensive.
Compared to the US and Japan, chinese labor is less expensive, but not to the point that all production lines will head (or stay) there. There are other places in the world where labor is cheaper, and becoming increasingly so due to recent wage hikes in parts of China.
As for relocating jobs, there are already signs that it's taking place; some move from China to countries/regions with cheaper labor, and there are even companies heading back to the US. See this article from last year: http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/2010-08-06-manufacturing04_CV_N.htm
Most unfortunately for the Japanese, their products gaining in price with less features (to try to keep prices down) is going to drive consumers to other countries products (Korea, etc.) and that will FURTHER delay their recovery. They are in an economic black hole, it would appear. The highest debt to GDP ratio of any developed nation and now this....
I don't think that they will try to keep the prices down by delivering less features.
Brands like Sony/Toshiba already have other brands like Samsung being full on competitive.
I think it's still two distinct markets: the people who think cheap price is the important factor will continue to buy the ones that makes the most economic sense, while those with cash (or because they make a living off photography) will still pick up the expensive models. It's a M-shape society today, and companies can still make good money off the rich and the powerful who believe price is no concern.
I disagree. People will buy cameras that best suit their needs. I don't know if you've ever driven or walked down the streets of areas where all of the houses are valued at >$1,000,000, but not all of the cars owned by those people are luxury cars. If I earnt $1,000,000 a year, I still wouldn't buy a 1Ds camera for the simple reason that it doesn't make sense for me. Nor would I buy a 80MP MFDB. A S95 that fits in my coat pocket will likely suffice for most social photographs. There's a huge ergonomic factor to deciding which camera to buy.
btw, I don't know anybody that is "rich and powerful" that believes price is of no concern. People get rich because they're careful with money. Rich people who are not careful with their money end up poor - people who win lotto, etc, are great examples of this (they don't know what to do or how to manage the money they have, so they quite often just spend it all.)
Dilbert, you already mentioned two kinds of rich people in the previous statement - the "careful" kind and the lotto winners. Now, assuming that there's only two kinds of rich people (which, of course, is not the case) and we are at a point in time when they're both financially well-off, the lotto winner - according to your definition of this guy's financial tendency - will probably buy a Leica M9 Titanium if someone tells him that the camera body is a status symbol, and money is no concern for this spendthrift since he's destined to throw his money away at the end (whenever he gets to that point).
As for camera preferences, you know what camera will fit your needs because you've been doing homework in this area and probably know how to maximize your gains based on the knowledge. However, there are newbies who delve nose-first into buying a 5D2 kit because he simply wants something "good" to start with.
I don't know about the US, but you can overhear a lot of conversations by hanging around local camera shops here. There are students who have limited cash and makes multiple visits to check prices at different shops before making their final decision, and ask the vendor to sweeten the deal by adding in a freebie or two.
However, there's also a fair share of people who just want the best camera and simply doesn't care about the price (yes, there's also filthy rich madames armed with dazzling displays of jewelry fighting the vendor down to the last penny over an IXUS).
Like what Dibert said, people will buy cameras that best suit their needs. From my observations, all I can say is that for certain individuals, the weight of individual factors such as "prestige," "status," and "I just want the best" is worth more than saving several hundred dollars *shrug*.