Cannibalism Rules Again As Cameras Die Just Like Pagers and Handhelds

Sony, Too

John Gruber, on Daring Fireball, talking about the decline in camera sales:

Compare and contrast Sony’s approach to dealing with the decline in point-and-shoot camera sales with Apple’s approach to the decline in iPod sales. Apple is skating to where the puck is heading; Sony is skating to where the puck is at the moment.

He goes on to point out that he isn’t advocating Sony stop selling cameras. After all, Apple didn’t stop selling iPods. But it is a business in decline and the the future is clearly better cameras on phones.

This is a repeating theme in technology. A story of two companies, both coming of age at the same time. The first is a tech darling who defines the market for personal digital assistants and the second one who made pagers for a living. Both saw the coming age of smartphones and how that would decimate their existing businesses.

The first company (we’ll call it Palm) decided one random day that they would stop making and selling handhelds, laying off or reassigning everyone who worked on that business, throwing out a ton of knowledge and momentum in certain markets (like education). The second company (we’ll call it RIM) realized that it could marry its pager technology with cell phones and create addictive devices. RIM made the transition gradually; Palm did it abruptly. Palm died a horrible and ugly death while RIM, at least for a while, was the hottest smartphone company on the planet (until the market shifted on them again, this time from enterprise to consumer devices).

But at least both Palm and RIM realized the coming smartphone apocalypse would change their businesses and they’d need to adjust. Sony, Kodak, Canon and Nikon seem to have no answer to the transition at all.