Nikon officially cancels DL cameras

The Nikon DL Series of premium compact cameras has been officially cancelled by Nikon. Some months ago an article here raised concerns about the viability of the DL product line given the dramatic and continuing decline of the fixed lens camera market.

The earlier article, Nikon DL Dead in the Water?, raised the issue that the decline in the fixed lens camera market could potentially spell the end of the Nikon DL camera series. While many people have been musing about the DL series being a replacement for the Nikon 1 system, given the shifts in camera market segment volumes this never appeared to be a logical strategy to me.

No doubt many people will be disappointed with this announcement from Nikon. Since the company has patents for faster zoom lenses designed for 1″ CX sensor cameras we may see these lenses migrate over to the Nikon 1 product line and enhance the system’s capability.

Here is a quote from the Nikon release…I have added bold face to Nikon’s mention of slower market conditions.

“February 13, 2017 TOKYO – Nikon Corporation announced today that sales of the long-awaited DL series of premium compact camera, the DL18-50 f/1.8-2.8, DL24-85 f/1.8-2.8, and DL24-500 f/2.8-5.6, will be canceled.

A June, 2016 release was originally planned for the DL series. However, with the identification of issues with the integrated circuit for image processing, release of the three cameras was delayed indeterminately.

Since then, everyone involved has worked very hard to develop products with which our customers will be satisfied. However, it has been decided that sales of the DL series will be canceled due to concerns regarding their profitability considering the increase in development costs, and the drop in the number of expected sales due to the slow-down of the market.

We sincerely apologize to all those affected by this decision, especially those customers who waited so long for the cameras to be released, retailers and others whose business will be affected, for the inconvenience this decision may cause.”

In my recent year-end CIPA statistics update I included some charts that detailed the extent of the decline of the fixed lens camera market. Here are three salient charts that help to provide some market background for Nikon’s decision to kill the DL product line.

As we can see above, the fixed lens camera market has been collapsing for a number of years. While much of this decline can be assumed to be point-and-shoot cameras falling prey to Smartphones, it is unclear how much the fixed lens enthusiast market may have also declined. Nikon’s decision would indicate that the company did not feel it could sell a sufficient number of individual DL model units to make a profit.

The chart above shows that the value of the fixed lens market has also been eroding dramatically. This is a critical slide when one considers where to invest R&D dollars. It seldom makes sense to invest in segments where industry revenues are in rapid decline.

And, as we can see in the chart above the value of the fixed lens camera market now only represents 17.4% of camera market value. The fixed lens camera market appears to have become too small to support the sales of DL cameras. While many consumers will be angered by Nikon’s decision to cancel the DL series, it would appear that Nikon made a prudent strategic decision to cancel them before incurring even more costs bringing them to market.

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