Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by matthew_silberstein|1, Feb 21, 2005.
Just was informed by an inside source at PMA that Leica is going Chapter 11. bad news
What happens in the German equivalent of Chapter 11?
I found this which may shed some light...
Leica Camera Says Banks Partially Terminate Credit Lines
Monday February 21, 10:59 AM EST
SOLMS, Germany (Dow Jones)--Leica Camera AG (LCA.XE) Monday said its creditor banks have partially terminated credit lines for the camera maker.
Following the ad hoc announcement of Leica Camera AG, Solms, of February 17, 2005, stating that the company expects a loss of half of its registered share capital in March 2005, the banks have partially terminated their credit lines.
The remaining lines still cover the current liquidity requirements. The company's board of management has entered into negotiations with the banks on a solution that will carry the Company until the time of its extraordinary general meeting on May 31, 2005, at which capital measures are to be proposed to the shareholders.
Wonder what happens to the 50 year (I think it was 50) guarantee of parts availability for the MP?
Does this mean there will be a "Der Leica Kamera Kompany Go Kaput" commemorative edition?
"proposed to the shareholders."
... the only human beings on God's good earth with a collective IQ lower than that of a single fruitfly...
der Himmel fallt
an inside source at PMA that Leica is going Chapter 11
Like many rumors, only a kernal of truth. Chapters 7 and 11 are reorganization under the US Bankruptcy Code, not Germany's laws. Leica's current situation, and what it as a result does may be quite different from what an American company does under Ch 11.
Canon reported net income of almost $1.5 billion for the first half of 2004, and expected its net income figures to keep rising through 2005. That shows the advantage of diversification and technological advance. Leica, on the other hand, illustrates what happens to companies that stick their heads in the sand.
May 31, 2005, at which capital measures are to be proposed to the shareholders.
At which point all will probably have already been determined in negotiations with the creditors. Shareholders (those who haven't bailed out by the end of May, and among whom include shareholder Hermes, which will have a say in those negotiations) will have little choice but to approve recommended measures.
Whatever you call it, sounds like they are going into the jar. I'm not sure it means dire consequences for their existing retail customers, though it does mean all bets are off with respect to future products, etc.
I can't really see Leica disappearing just yet, though it seems likely they may get acquired by someone else (Cosina? Zeiss?) and turn into something quite different from what they have been historically.
No they are not. What ever the "Chapter 13" of Germany is, this is what Leica's bankers are trying to do; NOT call in their loans. That would be foolish. Different than Chapter 11.
Bashing Leica on the Leica Forum appears to remain very trendy as evidenced by the display of Shadenfreude in this thread. I hope Leica finds a way out of their financial predicament. I like the cameras and lenses.
Don't blame Leica for not diversifying. They were part of a much larger company until fairly recently. The company was well dversified, with some divisions profitable and others less so. Leica got "spun off" into a seperate entity and could no longer depend on the other divisions carrying the burden. Until the break-up it would be difficult to determine if the bad decisions were made by the big brass in the camera division or higher up the chain of command. Now that it's an independant entity at least the people with the most at stake will be able to seek proper solutions to the long festering problems.
I think this means someone in Japan (possibly a German classic camera nut and CEO of a large lens manufacturing company) may be doing some very careful mathematics quite soon.
Cosina - Voigtlander.
Cosina - Zeiss
Maybe a certain CEO would like a triumvirate (or troika) of favourite German brand names adorning his cameras. Either as business partners (Zeiss) or licenced brands (Voigtlander)
Leica may benefit more from a partnership with photographic companies (Cosina/Voigtlander & Zeiss) than it has with Hermes.
Also posted today is a string about a new rangefinder camera from Zeiss Ikon. Takes film. Does this not bode well for the strength of the Leica concept, which this new camera follows? Financial reorganization is one thing, public demand is another. Usually, a bankruptcy type reorganization (as distinguished from a termination syle bankruptcy, is a sign of turn around for a company, and frequently enables the company to have a new lease on life. I am not discouraged, and view the advent of the new rangefinder camera by Zeiss Ikon as more of a boost for Leica's prospects than I view the Chapter 11 proceeding as bad news.
99% of leica users buy used gear anyway. this should not affect most people.
to add my useless $.02 to the other useless speculations/jabs, i think it was leica's diversification (into digital) that dragged it down. it should have gotten smaller and catered more to the extreme high end if it wanted tos usrvive. a boutique business catering to anti-digital nostalgists would heve been the perfect model. look at the high end turntable companies that survived/thrived for twenty+ years after the demise of phono as a mass market product.
there still may be a chance to revive/reinvent leica as an alpa type company.
Is it April 1 and I don't know it ;-)
No, they are not in "chapter 11" status, if this means bankrupt in US.
What Leica is saying though, is that they are in an alarming unstabil status. The trend is that half of their equity is consumed by spring this year. I am Swedish but I think that it is quite the same financial buziness requlations in all of EU as here. If so, they can still be saved in two ways:
They will have until end March (as I understand) to either reconstruct their equity by new capital from owners (present or new),
or reduce their registred equity to what it really is, i.e making Leica a smaller company. Forget goodwill equity value for the Leica brand market value. Thats was popular in the 90?s and banks won't go for it again.
To sum it up: If Leica Camera cuts away costs to stabilize themselves, they might still have a pretty good chans to remain an independent company. Produce in East europe or Asia as everyone else, quality can not be a problem there anymore. Possibly a better way would be someone with a lot of cash to capitalize the Leica brand in cameras and other consumer electronics (PCs with MS-Dos 3.1 maybe...
Don't know about Chapter 11, but I too hope Leica can recover.
That said, I would not be surprised to see Panasonic/Matushi*a get very involved here. (When spelled correctly, 'Matsushi*a' runs afoul of photo.net's profanity detector - LOL!)
Though personally, I'd like to see Kobayashi-san at Cosina step in because he seems to have a real respect for the history and culture of Leica cameras.
The wheel turns . . . stay tuned . . .
my two euros worth/Scott Gardner
Given the lack of enthusiasm from all the Leica nuts here for the M7, is anyone surprised? How many of you rushed out and bought an MP? Not one euro from the used market finds its way into Leica's coffers. The cold hard reality is that there is no market to speak of for Leica's new products. It has always been a tiny niche market, and it's getting smaller.
But who really cares in the end? There's plenty of Leica gear around. One boutique company's fortunes are of little consequence. The worldwide photography business is as strong as ever, and you have a staggering array of choices before you. Now is a great time to be a photographer.
this really isn't the leica forum any more is it??
Roger, Leica has been catering to the high end film users all the while, and look where it's got them. Do you think that if they'd diverted their digital R&D resources to lenses and bodies that they'd done better? I doubt so.
it seems likely they may get acquired by someone else (Cosina? Zeiss?)
Zeiss has a tight relationship with Sony, and already is making a Leica-mount camera. They hardly need to buy the name, or the expensive offshore assembly system Leica has employed. Cosina has profitably been selling cameras and lenses at a price/ performance level that consumers have been buying -- I really doubt that Cosina would want to snap up a moribund, borderline-unprofitable like Leica.
Don't blame Leica for not diversifying
Yes, there are enough valid reasons for which Leica deserves blame.
as long as DAG, Sherry, Kindermann et. al. don't go belly up, we'll be okay!
And Agfa, and Ilford and ....
Dag et al have limited ability when it comes to fixing the
electronics on the M7.
Film will become a boutique item, yes. Art is already a boutique
item though.... has been for some time.
I'll bet that a fairy godfather will come along and pull their fat out
of the chapter 11 fire. After all, a chapter 11 BR is a
re-organization BR. It doesn't mean that they are necessarily
going out of business. Their major creditor (probably a bank) will
appoint a caretaker board while they get their act together under
It might turn out to be the best thing for Leica - it will surely bring
some new blood in and likely bring their products and prices
more in line with the market.
No use crying over spilt pixels! ( : - < )
I agree with AZ, did I really say that? The market for Leica is older enthusiasts many of which have their gear now. The purchasing power and market for camera gear is the 18-30 year olds. If a company can't get their product to the race track and have the odd win, then the consumer base isn't there to support the racing. You see no Leicas at events, or pro's clicking away with them, so the first time buyer automatically ignores Leica. The market for which Leica caters too is shrinking everyday. And that's people with a little bit left over at the end of payday for perusing hobbies, expensive ones at that. And with the number of complaints I've read here about MP's and M6 ttl's, their new product isn't rock solid and only defers their existing client base from future purchases. And the fresh young faces that will peruse this expensive hobby of photography, do you think it will be film or digital choice? It's the sum of all bad decisions while only using a medium, film, which will no longer be easily available soon. In my opinion, they should have made a cheaper more reliable Japanese built body years ago that had the quality control that is famous from Japanese assembly lines and then sold up to the keeners with a hand-made built in Germany body that had no issues because there were no financial struggles. I'm surprised they lasted this long.
R digital back: not out yet *still*
90mm f4 macro: hm...who actually uses macro on a RF?
50mm 1.4 asph: $2500ish? Exactly how much is this sucker?
digilux 2: tiny sensor for the price of a 20d?
Do they NOT want to go bankrupt???
Roger: this isn't the Leica Forum anymore...? Sadly, you appear to be right. It's become the Leicabashers' backyard.
Anyway, here's just another 2 Eurocents... I guess Leica's problem starts with making a) hi-end products that are too good from the start, optically as well as mechanically, and b) by doing so creating a myth and c) feeding this myth, to the effect that instead of willing to get rid of their gear in order to buy the even newer, sexier, better model every other year customers keep using their cameras and lenses for well over five decades, passing on their gear from generation to generation, and investing in expensive CLAs and fostering a flourishing used market.
Now that it's too late for swamping the market with second rate junk, the only light at the end of this tunnel strategy, IMHO, appears to be a digital module/body for all those tens of thousands of owners of LTM and M lenses to lure them into investing into something that is sure to be technologically obsolete within a year, but - given the $$$$s invested into lenses - will be substituted by the customers on a regular basis, just like in Konicannonikonworld.
I'm dead serious.
For the rest, I think that Eric (who posted in parallel) has a point here.
Steve - what is Chapter 13? Chapter 11 is protection/reorganization, I think Chapter 7 is wind-up, Chapter 13 is .....?
"(who posted in parallel)"
What does this mean Lutz? What'd i do this time?
Ther is no chapter 11 in Europe and what has been published is a fairly common procedure. The banks will meet with the company to review its capital structure. They are most unlikely to ask for immediate payback of their loans but freeze them at current levels pending a restructuring. This may pressage a takeover by someone but whatever happens this is unlikely to be the end of Leica. They still make the best and most famous cameras in the world and someone will pay a high price for that.
Corporate culture in Germany may also be hugely different from in the US ... do German bankers pick over an obligor's rotting carcass or do they actively look for ways to keep the heart pumping? Somehow I think there's life in the old gadget bag yet.
>>>What does this mean Lutz? What'd i do this time?<<<
I think it means you both were typing at the same time so he
didn't see your post til after he posted. Eric, don't you flame
anymore at *other* forum?
I really doubt that Cosina would want to snap up a moribund, borderline-unprofitable like Leica.
Yes, but your field of expertise is composing bitchy internet missives, not lens design, so your doubts have no real merit. I'd bet Mr. Kobayashi would love to acquire Leica's expertise, especially if he could "snap" it up at a fire-sale price.
<...as evidenced by the display of Shadenfreude...>
Achtung, zee olde Freudian lens shaden. Don't let it slip.
It occurs to me that there are some interesting parallels to be drawn with the state of leitz today, and the swiss watchmaking industry in the early 80s...which seems to have survived intact, it would seem. I found this link (from '97, but the circumstances haven't changed for the worse) quite insightful, YMMV <br /><br />
Leslie, sometimes when I speak my mind, others can call it flaming. But you're right, I hardly visit there anymore. All hobbyists and gear chat, not enough other tool users for invoices. But I got aload of mind yesterday here.
Err... Eric, yes, what Leslie said!
Chapter 13 is a personal reorganization in the U.S.
I defer to our European members for knowledge on business practice "over there", so pardon my ignorance if this sounds ignorant. Is is possible that Hermes have positioned Leica in such a way that they can reap some kind of tax benefit? Or to shed debt from Leica? Or to force Leica to sell them a majority/controlling interest? Somehow I can't imagine Hermes (who seems to be a well-run business) have been kept in the dark about Leica's financials, nor that they don't have the credit rating needed to keep the wolves away. It just seems like there's more to this than meets the eye.
If Leica goes under, it is not entirely their fault. It seems to be a law of nature that cheap inferior products produced in quantity, whether by genetics or manufacturing, will overcome and replace expensive, less numerous high quality items.
I totally agree with you Kerry. Its the Walmart mentality.
I know nothing about this, but I would be surprised if Leica did not survive in some form.
Remember, they have gone through this before, what with the M5 debacle. FWIW, I think
the internet probably had a hand in Leica's troubles. It made the consumers highly
informed about what they were purchasing, the similarity of used gear to the current
offerings, and sites like ebay and KEH made it very easy to find used gear at very good
prices. Where someone before might just have bought new gear by default, now people,
especially younger people, go online and find that they can get a user M6 for 1500 dollars
less than the price of an M7. Unless money is really not an object, it is hard to convince
the new user to buy new. I hope Leica will come out of this, but they need to make their
new products offer something that is very compelling and unavailable in their previous
product lines. The most obvious is digital of course, but beyond that I am sure there are
other things that they could use to convince people to buy their new products. I think
Leica was trying to move in this direction with things like the Tri-Elmar, Leica a la Carte
program, 75mm summicron and Digital Modul R, but it must not be working. I am
guessing the extraordinarily high price of many of these things is to blame.
max -- i think it was crazy for leica to spend a penny on digital follies. digital cameras are home electronics. that means you need a new model (and probably several) every few months to stay competitive. it also means makinhg money by making things that wear out quickly and need to be replaced by that more recent model. this is not what leica does nor what it should be doing.
the fact is, maybe leica was doomed the day the first digital camera appeared. no company is more wedded to old school photography than leica. lots of buggy whip mfrs went out of business, and the ones that survived weren't making buggy whips anymore.
would i care if leica survived making digital cameras?? probably not. i can buy better ones from nikon or canon.
personally, i believe -- as i have aid before -- that leica should have survived, even thrived, the way lots of turntable mfrs did after the digital audio revolution; i.e. by making superexpensive products for a boutique/specialty clientele. there is no shame in this, and if it meant more leica lenses for me, that's great in my book. i like the idea of non plus ultra products for those who can afford them, or for those who choose to save up for them.
bottom line: the notion that leica could have survived by embracing digital more firmly is poppycock. further, the notion that i would care if they did is also silly. i want a leica when i want a reliable, no battery film-based workhorse. when i want a digital, there are lots of places to look.
let's hope leica dies a graceful death; i'd hate to see the name on plastic cameras from china.
"personally, i believe -- as i have aid before -- that leica should have survived, even thrived, the way lots of turntable mfrs did after the digital audio revolution; i.e. by making superexpensive products for a boutique/specialty clientele."
But that IS what they did, and it didn't work.
"It seems to be a law of nature that cheap inferior products produced in quantity, whether by genetics or manufacturing, will overcome and replace expensive, less numerous high quality items. "
You mean like Ferraris, Gucci handbags, Cartier jewelery and Rolex watches?
I love the genetics reference too. I presume you're refering to Dawin's little known second law, "survival of the genetically inferior". I wonder just who the genetically inferior are - the "rest of us" perhaps? Anyone not owning a Leica maybe? Anyone living in a 3rd world country? Do tell us...
I hope Leica can come out of this ok. I believe they really suffer from a severe cash flow problem in that they have to many models that aren't selling enough units to mandate the manufacture of them in the first place. I believe the service aspect of their business has been losing cash flow (so many qualified repair techs as opposed to Leica service alone) that this potentially highly profitable aspect of their business has languished for a long time. I wish they could initiate a "Harley Davidson" type of scenario like the one in which the workers became primary shareholders after the Harley/AMC debacle almost drove them out of business. I also believe that as others have mentioned, the strong used market having life breathed into it by used retailers and the auction site, have kept new Leicas out of many shooters hands due to the price/value relationship. That has to have restricted cash flow rather severly in these past 10 years. Just my .02
"personally, i believe -- as i have aid before -- that leica should have survived, even thrived, the way lots of turntable mfrs did after the digital audio revolution; i.e. by making superexpensive products for a boutique/specialty clientele."
As you said yourself - poppycock. You're just as bad at business and analogy as you are at photography. Leica already makes (made?) "superexpensive products for a boutique/specialty clientele." They're still dead. Why? Because they're like Ferrari making an F55 that runs on coal. The world is using GASOLINE.
no, not at all. they spent millions on the R back. they spent a lot of money on the CM. they spent a ton of money on the digilux 1 and 2 and that completely absurd 3MP luxury digital that nobody in the world bought. they have spent an undisclosed amount on the digital M.
apart from the money (lots of money for a very small company with tight margins) spent on digital, these forays also fatally blurred the company's mission. they should have positioned themselves as the last bastion of traditional, hard-boiled reportage photography. no digital compromises here. film-users only need apply. this was the strategy or versa-dynamics, sota, JM, morch, koetsu and many other successful phono companies.
i still believe that leaic could be reorganized around these themes. floundering around, not sure if they are a digital company or a film purist company has left them, well, nowhere.
there are lots of small companies that survive making anachronistic stuff that appeals to a small group of connoisseurs willing to shell out. all of them make fanatic loyalty to their brand of anachronism the cornerstone of their marketing. leica needs to understand this.
el fang = the poor man's jay. all of the ignorance with none of the wit. but, like, jay, ZERO photos posted.
"They're still dead. Why? Because they're like Ferrari making an F55 that runs
on coal. The world is using GASOLINE." <p>
You obviously have problems with the English language, and the use of
Roger's anology was with turntables. Turntables use vinyl. You remember, the
medium which was supposed to die off with the advent of CD, but which you
cna still buy at thousands of outlets across the world. Hence the small (but
profitable) market for high-end turntables.
and, as the friend of several avid ferrarists, i can tell you there is a two year wait list for current models -- 10% deposit in advance!! leica wishes it had ferrari's problems!!
but you don't need to take your vinyl lp anywhere for processing after you have bought it, in order to play it.
personally, i believe -- as i have aid before -- that leica should have survived, even thrived, the way lots of turntable mfrs did after the digital audio revolution; i.e. by making superexpensive products for a boutique/specialty clientele
The problem with this analogy is that Leica have always been wedded to the 35mm film format. Whereas the high end audio companies can thrive selling 20 grand speakers to well heeled customers who are obsessed with wringing out that last bit of possible audio quality, photo enthusiasts obsessed by quality tend to bypass Leica and buy into the larger film (or digital) formats.
I speculated over the way Leica may take when we heard about the losses. I still expect them to restructure around high price colectors items with very small production runs.
Think Glash�tte or Lange & S�hne watches, Montblanc fountain pens and so on.
Thing realy well made and functional which you buy because you can afford them, not because you need them.
For the average photographer a new Leica is something to dream about. Even used ones are out of financial reach for most of them.
The biggest local newspaper pays 7 Euro, magazins pay between 20 and 200 Euro per picture. A friend freelances for "Bild Zeitung" and is payed on a assignment basis, he can barely afford his EF-L 16-35 and 35-300.
Nobody's mentioned the one thing that Leica has no peer in: the
design and manufacture of the best camera lenses in the world.
It would be a shame if all that expertise simply disappeared into
history. Yes, maybe the individual Leica designers will be
gobbled up by other lens makers, but it won't be the same, will
Let's all say a silent prayer that somehow, their bacon will be
saved to see a better day.
The problem with the vinyl/film analogy is that it makes no sense.
Turntables are devices made to reproduce something made elsewhere. They are analogous to slide projectors.
If you want an analogy to film, it might be closer to analog recording tape in the studio, which, ever since Digidesign, has seen nothing but declining use. It's still around, but it's getting harder and harder to find a studio using it. And if they do, it's often because they've got lots of equipment and custom installation wrapped around it.
None of this really has anything to do with Leica, I'm not commenting on the announcement and all that, it's just for the bad analogy records.
(a) i am not sure that, in their heart of hearts, most vinly lovers (myself included) believe that the high end vinyl experience is just about sound. it is about the whole experience of playing records. in the same way, leica cameras are not just about the image, but the whole experience of taking pictures. having said that, there are a huge number of leicaphiles (again, myself included) who believe that leica glass DOES provide a level of consistent excellence not found in other products. so i think the analogy is quite close.
(b) however, i asn'ttrying to suggest that the two situations are identical -- obviously. i was trying to point out that digital counter-revolutions have been successfully waged by other companies in hobbies that share many similarities with photography (passion, art-o-centric, equipment-intensive, hihg cost apparatus, etc). i think leica, if itwants to survive, needs to play to its strengths, and that means really embracing silver-halide photography as a religion, just like the phono companies.
how do wood-hulled sailiboat makers tout their wares?? faster than fiberglass??
I hope they don't move their production back to Canada.
jeff -- are you really that thick or are you just trying to give me a hard time?? we are talking about retail strategies, not whether a turntable is exactly like a camera.
but i'll play along.
cameras are about making visual art; phonographs, to an audiophile, are about making musical art. film cameras and phonographs run on media that has been displaced by allegedly superior and allegedly more robust digital media.
i really can't believe that the comparison between the high end film camera world and the high end phonograph world is that difficult to grasp.
El Fang, Roger is a very good photographer in my book.
An explanation regarding my previous comments. I find that animals like tigers, cheetahs, polar bears, mountain gorillas, elephants etc., are esthetically pleasing to me and are in danger of becoming extinct in the wild even in my limited remaining lifetime. On the other hand, things like carp, fleas, rats, cockroaches, ticks and mosquitos will probably outlast humanity. Others may regard all items, species, cultures, creatures as intrinsically equal valued -- I don't. I would like Leica, Ferarri's to survive, but they occupy an ever narrower niche.
but frankly i'm glad to hear a little sassmouth on the leica forum!! it's been getting boring around here.
besides, all that matters is that the paying customers like my work. i haven't ever sold a thing to el fang!!
"I hope they don't move their production back to Canada."
why not? it saved their arses once before didn't it?
Phonographs don't make music, except maybe for scratchers. No musician plays a phonograph. Photographers shoot with cameras. Musicians play instruments. But phonographs don't make music. Cameras are used to make phonographs.
The trouble seems to be the high end market. Cosina Voigtlander has been no doubt siphoning off customers who otherwise would have been buying older used Leicas, but at the same time they're increasing the user base, and the M mount has become the defacto rangefinder standard, bearing names from Rollei, Zeiss, Voigtlander, Konica, and a few others. Another consideration is the relatively depressed economy over the past few years. If the money starts flowing again it'll be easy enough for folks with a budding M-mount lens collection to upgrade their optics on their existing camera or add a high end body to their kit. It's a painless transition compared to, say, getting out of Minolta SLR's to move "up" to Canon or Nikon while you're still pissed at Minolta for their total lensmount change a few years earlier. I strongly suspect that Leica will come out of this OK, and with an uptick in the overall economy, thrive.
I guess it did but who wants to buy junk?
jeff -- you may notice that i qualified my statement. to audiophiles, the best hifis make music. you can dispute the techicalities of that statement but, as qualified, it is true.
anyway, as i said, we are talking about market strategies, not whether a leica is more like a ferrari, a collings guitar, a sota cosmos, or a leprade saddle.
Anyone who thinks a hifi "makes" music is insane. I'm sorry, but it's a reproduction device, just like a slide projector.
anyone who thinks a camera makes art is insane; it is just a reproduction device.
of course i see your point, jeff. however, audiophiles believe that a good hifi can convey a musical experience just as effectively as a piano sitting right there in the room.
anyway, i must remind you again that we are talking about comparative marketing strategies, high end analog sound versus high end analog photography -- in an increasingly digital world.
I'm sure Leica could surive if they downsize. I'm sure there would be a market for a few, hand produced, cameras even at double the current price. If you go far enough upscale you can ususally find a market. Stop making normal cameras and go only for the limited edition, gold-plated stuff and you'll probably find enough rich dudes to keep a few people in business.
Let's face it, nobody is going to get rich making film cameras for the masses anymore. Even if those masses can afford $2000 bodies and $2000 lenses. That applies double when you can get Japanese copies for 1/4 the price.
Quality may count, but only so far. In a world of rangefinders Leica may be champs, but in a world of digital cameras, they're not even in the game. Recent news from Canada showed a 59% drop in film camera sales last year and a 25% drop in film sales. Predictions are for a further 40% drop in film camera sales in 2005.
"Musicians play instruments. But phonographs don't make music."
Possibly the single most important musical innovation over the last 30 years (not technological, musical) involved the recasting of vinyl & turntable from storage medium & reproducer into a radically expressive new musical instrument. Technological innovations like samplers and ProTools simply built on this new musical paradigm (rather than create artistic transformations of their own), and popular music today owes as much to vinyl & turntable as it does to the electric guitar.
One would think that Leica's Panasonic relationship would have made both companies richer. As you know, Leica lenses are used on some of Pana's digital video cameras. In fact, I own a Pana video cam that has a Leica lens. Oh, well.
Beau, I did mention the exception of scratchers but it doesn't look like you bothered to read what I said. But that's not what Roger was talking about. He's talking about the certifiably looney idea that because music comes out of the speakers of a hifi system, the hifi system created music. I suggest taking a blank piece of vinyl and demonstrating this.
Otherwise, the analogy is, as I said, insane. Also as I said, there is a reasonable analogy between a slide projector and a hifi system.
so, where would 8-tracks fit into all of this?
Jeff, you are not reading Roger's answers, he has said it repeatably that the analogy is for marketing strategies.
...Does this mean there will be a "Der Leica Kamera Kompany Go Kaput" commemorative edition? That's the funniest thing I've read in a very looooong time...LOL
" 99% of leica users buy used gear anyway. this should not affect most people. "
Of course. Leica gear is the only brand in the world that doesn't have to be new before
So, Leica is paying the price of quality and durability. Sad.
Roger, you still haven't addressed part of my question. If Leica had not invested in digital, what should they have done with their money then? Should they try to add more features and functions to their cameras? Will it help them if the Leica M becomes more like the Contax G? As for lenses, so many of their lenses are already at the top of the game, but yet it still doesn't help them in turning a profit. It's obvious that their current strategy is not working well, and sticking to it is not going to help one bit.
You may not bother to buy Leica digicams, have you not considered that if doing so would keep them alive, they might still be able to come up with new and improved lenses or bodies? Or at least be around to keep their parts for the M available for repairs?
There are also references about linking luxury items to Leica, which is rather apt seeing its relationship with Hermes. However, one of the problems is that it's pretty hard to make a camera some sort of Luxury item for the average rich person. Can you see a film star strutting down a red carpet carrying a Leica? If I'm a millionaire who wants to show off my camera, I'll probably carry a 1DsMkII or a Hasselblad H1D and keep spouting 16 or 22 megapixels. The people who'd really value a Leica as a luxury item are the collectors and the fondlers that this forum has a habit of dissing. This means that maybe Leica should really try to make more of the limited edition cameras, and maybe even things like diamond encrusted and platinum cameras.
Marketing strategies for radically different products don't compare well.
Since the comparison to digital photography is digital recording equipment, that makes a good analogy. There has been no uproar, no massive resistance, no arguments around using digital recording tools. There are some studios with large investments (comparable to camera owners and maybe some photographers) that use analog recording equipment because it's what they own. There are a few that use analog recording equipment because, for one reason or another, both good and bad, they prefer it. But there isn't anyone jumping up and down screaming about it. It happened, the bulk of the studios are digital.
leica should work with kodak or ilford and promote film. buy a
new leica product, get limited free (or at a discount ) film like they
did with kodak film scanner a few years ago.
jeff -- let's just end this now. your insistence on seeing -- to your
eyes -- an exact parallel between the function of the devices in
these marketing analogies just makes no sense. the kinds of
people who buy digital recording gear could not be more
different than leica customers. the buying motivations could not
be more different. there is tremendous overlap between the high
end audio and leica customer base.
i think you've standing too close to al's exhaust vent!!
anyway, you're right, i'm wrong. leica's marketers should look to
the example of pro digital audio gear. yup.
First of all, I can't verify what Matthew claimed anywhere. So should we just call it "spectculations"?
Sencond, if you are familiar with how the German do their business, then you'll see that Leica will not fall. If you want an analogy, check out the history of Porsche (another German company) and their 911 series.
I know of a machines factory that helped make guns during WWII, after the war, their were never profitable. Who feed them? The Deutch Bank, Government controlled.
Try to understand the German history and culture.
Gabriel, you can repeat that as often as you want, your statement is plain wrong.
Leica's fate is uncertain but it is not doomed. Remember, the
sugar daddy is Hermes, a hugely profitable French company that
may if anything ncrease its stake. Why, you ask? Because it
sees Leica as an upscale luxury market leader in analogue and
hopefully digital photography once the R and M backs are
perfected. Leica has been chugging along but has been hit by
the combined blows of increased R&D for the digital backs and
the strength of the euro. Longterm, they should do well if they
focus on the core products.
But Gabriel, cars still run on gasoline and bullets are still fired by gunpowder. Photography isn't fuelled by film anymore. Who's going to spend $5000 on a camera and a single lens for a medium that you will have to soon mail away like Kodachrome in order to use it?
if they fail to play the digital card, they might as well fold...
Well, lets hope they can pull their butts out of the fire or someone does it for them. If they
survive this, let hope they have the brains to align themselves with someone who has
digital expertise and concentrate all of their efforts on making a digital version of the M,
be it in Germany or Asia. Like it or not the era of traditional photography is coming to an
end andn they need a digital solution in their lineup to survive. I think there is a plenty big
market for a professional level digital rangefinder.
"I think there is a plenty big market for a professional level digital rangefinder."
yes, but not a pro price, but instead a pro-sumer price.
"Since the comparison to digital photography is digital recording equipment, that makes a good analogy. There has been no uproar, no massive resistance, no arguments around using digital recording tools."
Actually, in music there was a similar reaction to what's happened in photography - a lot of people did panic. Others were "anti-digital" just like now -- Lenny Kravitz recorded everything on 2" 16-track and insisted on not even using any solid state gear, let alone digital.
I was a professional in the music business at the time, and though I adopted some digital technology early, I also had a bunch of vintage Neumann mics, Neve preamps, tube compressors, etc., and that gear skyrocketed in value once people realized what they were missing when they went over to ADATs and ProTools. In digital music, the pendulum swung too far before coming back to equilibrium, which is I think the point people are trying to make with the vinyl analogy.
However, I agree that film is best compared to magnetic tape. It's still great for what it does, and unparalleled for certain uses, but the advantages to digital keep closing the utility gap. Watch what happens -- when digital is near-ubiquitous as a capture medium, there will be a lot more interest in old, character-inducing lenses and stuff.
The volume of whining about the change was miniscule, especially compared to this forum.
I still don't know if you deliberately ignored what I said about scratchers or just don't bother to read since it's easier to attack.
Volcker said: "For the average photographer a new Leica is something to dream about"
Volcker, if this were only still true, we might not be making this thread. Part of the trouble
is that as digital offers a new medium, and larger formats offer distinct advantages as well
as increasing automation, digital adaptability and increasing compactness, fewer people
will think it important enough to buy new 35mm rangefinder equipment. Pros aren't much
of a force in the rangefinder market, and even well-heeled amateurs that once might have
aspired to own a Leica RF are drawn to other systems and media for obvious reasons.
I think this was inevitable and forseeable. Few retailers in even large cities want to stock
Leica because it just doesn't move, so there is lost the most important venue for everyday
exposure of this increasingly rare brand. Except for those interested enough to be
attracted by the rangefinder lore born of the first half of the last century (and that can't be
counted on for long either) who is all that interested in a brand whose products seem at
once so unreasonably expensive and so attached to a waning technology? I think the
answer is staring us in the face.
Since the comparison to digital photography is digital recording equipment, that makes a good analogy
"Who's on first base?"
i dont see lenny kravitz protesting his music being sold on plastic cds or mp3s across the internet do you? everyone compromises when $ are involved huh
"The volume of whining about the change was miniscule, especially compared to this forum."
Well, volume is all about how close you're standing to the speaker. "Whining" is kind of a subjective term, both then and now, but as someone who was spending 15 hours a day in recording studios back then, I can say there was a great deal of discussion and debate about the advent of digital.
"I still don't know if you deliberately ignored what I said about scratchers or just don't bother to read since it's easier to attack."
You alluded to "scratchers" as if to anticipate and deflect an exception to your generalization that record players aren't instruments. You said, "no musician plays a phonograph." I was addressing that point directly, not ignoring it. I have no intention to "attack," however, I disagree with the point and suggest it contradicts the putative purpose for making it. Some of the most important musicians of our generation play phonographs, and those musicians are the main reasons turntables still sell well.
Grant, on the Kravitz thing, I don't think there's any contradiction in recording with "old school" gear and delivering the product in a high-tech way. If a photographer shoots with a 100-year-old 8x10 camera, but scans his work and posts it on the web, is he a hypocrite too?
i must say, i am very surprised to hear smart people suggest
that it made good business sense for leica to attempt to become
profitable by making digital cameras.
did anyone notice that the estimated investment in the R modul
was about the same as the net operating loss for leica for the
last three years?? consider that the R modul was outdated
withing 3 months of its announcement (and now looks like
positively ancient technology), and you begin to see why only
large electronics companies can play on the digital stage. let's
now even discuss the dlux or digilux 1&2. how many profitable
years did they eat up (and they were panasonic products).
leica will sink or swim as a film camera maker. could it survive
on the same business model as alpa -- i say yes, why not??
new technologies, always produce nostalgia/luddite/retro
markets. based on the much higher than expected MP sales,
this theory seems to be holding true for leica. the company will
have to scale down and raise its prices. but it has a market. it
simply must become the anti-digital alternative.
digital may kill leica -- the foolish expenditure of profits on a vast
most boat makers switched to fiberglass out of business
necessity. a few high end wooden boatmakers are thriving by
catering to a niche.
and don't tell me leica has failed catering to a niche. they have
done no such thing. ever since digital came along they have
tried to pretend they were in the game. and that is where they
have gone wrong.
beau i guess i took for a traditional sorta dude, against digital and all that....you know...looong tonal ranges and stuff like that...
"did anyone notice that the estimated investment in the R modul was about the same as the net operating loss for leica for the last three years?? consider that the R modul was outdated withing 3 months of its announcement (and now looks like positively ancient technology), and you begin to see why only large electronics companies can play on the digital stage."
Roger, it has nothing to do with large electronic manufactures. In what right mind would a company spend all that money on R&D for a digital back aimed at that street price for a few R bodies out there? Like really. Any shooter wanting to go digital with a dslr isn't likely spend that cash on a steam engine. Leica trying to make a back for a body that hardly anybody uses in the first place while in the infancy of digital? Stupid idea.
Leica should have studied Norton and Triumph in the mid 70's. Leaky motors and electrics that don't work and tunning the thing up everytime you want to ride while being more expensive in your home country than an imported hassel free Honda CB 750 four.
leica has always been a niche market....it only takes time where niche markets die in a world of large companies that can produce new and exciting products that consumers love to consume....if you dont keep up with that you lose...its just business....right?
"Snortin Norton? Ah yes, gasoline on your shoes, oil on the driveway but darn
they were fun!
Gabriel Hanson presented the analogy of Porsche and their 911 series, conveniently ignoring several missteps that company has made over the decades (924, 928 anyone?).
But there are parallels ... is there sufficient market for Leica's optical design skills, the way Porsche markets its engineering services? They don't have much of a history with the wide-range zooms that occupy most of the consumer market. Are there enough customers out there for a highly-refined dead-end design?
If Leica really were Porsche, there would be a quieter, higher-speed shutter in that body, and a rangefinder more resistant to shock. There would be an R6.2a to compete with Nikon's FM3A for the hardcore film/mechanical camera boutique market.
I enjoyed working with my Leicas back in the '70s and '80s, but they've been chasing too many design zebras to stay current with their core products.
Vincent Black Shadow. Nuff said.
Well, maybe one more comment: German banks would all be in the dumper except for foreign bottom-fishing investors. In the old days Drexel Burnham Lambert would have arranged a leveraged buy out.
Maybe this explains Bush's visit.
"it only takes time where niche markets die in a world of large companies that can produce new and exciting products that consumers love to consume....if you dont keep up with that you lose...its just business....right?"
Some people fear this is where we're headed, and we may well be living in such a monolithic, monopolistic world before long. But the whole point of this discussion is whether or not this scenario is inevitable. Optimists would point to things like microbrews, the renewed popularity of tailored suits, flourishing small guitar manufacturers, etc. and say Leica and similar companies have a lot of potential if they're managed correctly.
I've always wanted a Vincent Black Shadow.
fo me, a 500 Manx.
without the boulders, you can't have the nooks in between. beau,
i think large companies often are responsible for creating niche
companies. the esoteric must define itself by reference to the
and so i disagree that leica cannot exist in a world of canons and
nikons. in fact, just the opposite.
its a capitalist society...the consumer dictates...its all about celebs and reality tv these days....get ur fill where and when you can and live out ur life bobbin and weavin the best u can....just make sure u gotta good pair of shoes...
What's the big deal? It's just a box with film in it....if nothing else works then youre done, go bowling or white river rafting. Take some culinary arts classes....move on. If you want to take pics you still got your box or get another. WTF??
theres no seeing things for what they are around here, please move on edmo....theres more important things to discuss...
hi -- i just don't buy the idea that you can compete successfully
as a digital imaging company with a new platform every 7 years
or so. the pace of change is too great. i also don't believe that
leica has the expertise to pull off successful digital cameras in
any event. they couldn't even buold the CM properly.
more important (maybe just as important), leica trying to sell
digital is like nikon going into the hand-bent snow-shoe
business. it really fights the whole image of the company. leica
should continue to do what it is good at or die trying.
finally, i think it will be just plain easier for leica to succeed in the
alpa model as opposed to its current hybrid model. selling high
end non plus ultra film cameras to a niche market of rich
luddites is, in reality, the low hanging fruit.
HOW ABOUT THIS: i bet if someone gave leica back all the
money it has wasted on its numerous failed digital ventures
(c.2,600,000 euros i am told), and if someone readjsuted their
profit sheet to show how they would have gared had the dollar
not dropped 40% against the euro, the company would be well
into the black. MP sales are double the forecast and m7 sales
are 80-90% of forecast. toss in ONE successful OEM deal with
sony or konica/minolta and you've got a very robust little
and every box they sell should be stamped "100% analog."
it really fights the whole image of the company. leica should continue to do what it is good at or die trying.
Like a dying dog on the highway...
...this is the future of rangefinder style photography we are talkin' about man,
No it's not, this the future of Leica...fish tanks, glow, Luigi bags got...this has nothing to do about photography.
whats this tellin it like it is shyt edmo....ur scaring my fish...cmon
Film will become a boutique item, yes. Art is already a boutique item though
So for Ray film is equivalent to art. That makes a lot of sense on some planet, I'm sure.
If Leica goes under, it is not entirely their fault. It seems to be a law of nature that cheap inferior products produced in quantity, whether by genetics or manufacturing, will overcome and replace expensive, less numerous high quality items.
Assuming momentarily that's true you u> find fault with management which is so blind as to not grasp this simple "law of nature" and respond accordingly on behalf of shareholders.
But Nikon's profitable now, Pete. Even if one contends that Canon calls the tune and Nikon dances to it, at least Nikon's dancin'.
Beau says "ome of the most important musicians of our generation play phonographs," and I suppose he's right. Must say, though, that some of the listeners from *my* generation haven't really warmed up to that music and still look at the turntable as a device upon which to play older jazz records. -
Into this forum filled with failed analogies, let me roll another one: Could a smaller Leica wind up more closely akin to a semi-custom bicycle frame manufacturer, rangefinders only, and ultimately, add a rangefinder that captures digitally?
leitz today, and the swiss watchmaking industry in the early 80s...which seems to have survived intact, it would seem.
It hasn't been 'Leitz' for a while. Aside from that, I'd agree that Leicas have a lot in common with expensive jewelry timepieces which work as well as competitors costing a fraction of their price, while selling as luxury goods with snob appeal.
"People will buy a digi M and a digi R - all Leica have to do is deliver the product. The market will make sure that the brand doesn't die - and that these products will be delivered."
ah, Pete, there isn't enough of a target market to make even the R&D pay off. My bet is eventually a Japan made digital body will come out for all the dusty Leica lenses.
Leica is paying the price of quality and durability. Sad.
Leica is paying the price of staying decades behind everyone else in everything but some lenses. Old Nikon F bodies are durable and of high quality. Same for Canon F bodies. Same for most medium format bodies from decades ago. But the successful manufacturers advanced their products and kept constant with the needs and demands of most consumers. Leica was too conservative, deriving sales from fewer and fewer customers with marginally-differentiated rangefinder camera bodies (and problematic SLR bodies) that were comparatively technologically backward for too long, focused on a small niche of fondlers and amateurs who could afford to spend relatively huge sums.
sugar daddy is Hermes, a hugely profitable French company that may if anything ncrease its stake. Why, you ask? Because it sees Leica as an upscale luxury market leader in analogue and hopefully digital photography once the R and M backs are perfected.
Suddenly Hermes is going to bet on digital for Leica to save the company, reverse its sales tailspin, and repay an increased investment? Not bloody likely.
Leica should have studied Norton and Triumph in the mid 70's.
Leica should have studied Honda and other manufacturers of low-end, high-volume products who used their manufacturing expertise to move upscale, compared to expensive, niche manufacturers who ended up losing market share or dying or getting bought out.
If it survives it will be a much, much smaller company, or will refocus to be a high-end Sigman, or simply end up a nameplate for whoever buys them out.
cameras are about making visual art; phonographs, to an audiophile, are about making musical art.
Cameras are tools that let photgraphers make visual art. With the above mindset , it's easy to see why some here are so misguided about photography. And phonographs making musical art? Amazing... Seems musicians might be at odds with that as well.
" Leica should have studied Honda and other manufacturers of low-end, high-volume products who used their manufacturing expertise to move upscale, compared to expensive, niche manufacturers who ended up losing market share or dying or getting bought out."
that's exactly why i said they should study the losers, Norton and Triumph, dummy.
Chapter 11 is bankruptcy protection. It gives a company time to reorganize without the fear of being hammered by creditors.
Chapter 7 is liquidation. Out of business.
"What's the big deal? It's just a box with film in it....if nothing else works then youre done, go bowling or white river rafting. Take some culinary arts classes....move on. If you want to take pics you still got your box or get another. WTF??"
There's no big deal, it's just an interesting discussion. I like photography, I own some Leica products, and my day job is buying and selling companies... actually, not just my day job, I'm at work now
"And phonographs making musical art? Amazing... Seems musicians might be at odds with that as well."
That's what painters said about photography...
The turnover for the camera system sales was dropped 50% (base on the interim result of 2004). It may contribute by two main causes; 1. Declining of the traditional film photography (raising of digital photography), 2. Poor marketing and pricing strategy.
I believe the first one is the not the major failure cause. Leica is already in the niche market, the market segment who use or intent to use Leica camera are more inert to the attraction from digital photography. We value mechanic perfection, feeling, shooting experience, tradition quality, etc... of Leica camera.
Well, I think Leica shall focus more on marketing and education. To the mass of people, Leica conotates luxury and classy, which is not the whole truth, it simply drives lots of people away. Most of us / people become Leica addicts only after they have experience with it. The CL line was a good way to 'educate' people to appreciate the use of Leica as a photography tool, since it is more affordable. I wonder if Leica can have a new line of low-cost product to draw in people and let the try with the Leica experience. This may be a good way to capture a larger market segment and eventually they will upgrade to the M-class.
It doesn't make any business sense to subsidies a losing money business unit by other making money business units (hence result of diversification) unless there is some other value in it. The traditional camera line of Leica must be / need to be self-sustain else it cannot last long even by diversification.
Good luck Leica !
wtf Ed this is the Leica forum aint it? We may need to call it the
'Box' forum soon, people need to know.
slave to da man...
Further to what Edmo said, serious photographers will just find another tool and make the
photos they need/want to make. Unless it's really about camera ownership, then I can see
where some might go into a deep funk.
>Bob Atkins (www.bobatkins.com) ?, feb 21, 2005; 03:58 p.m.
>"It seems to be a law of nature that cheap inferior products produced in quantity,
whether by genetics or manufacturing, will overcome and replace expensive, less
numerous high quality items. "
>You mean like Ferraris, Gucci handbags, Cartier jewelery and Rolex watches?
Bwaaaaaaaaahahahaha! I take it you haven't been on Canal Street in NYC lately??
It is always interesting to see which Leica threads attract non-Leica owners--all the usual
ones are here...
do they make deep funk music with turntables?
I didn't mean to include that before I hit submit. I'm surprised to see how well this discussion is going and ment to bite my lip and...and Jon just showed up
It's not a life or death issue, no, but some of us have used these
particular types of boxes for a long time, and like the design of
how they operate. I can use any camera, but this is news about
the company of the camera I use, so to some of us who use
Leicas it's probably more important and interesting to those who
don't. The type of box and how it operates affects the kind of
photographs that are made at least a little, if it didn't we'd all be
using cardboard pinholes.
man, and i just let my M6J go for a bargin - now that's not funky.
Well this explains why I have not received the magazine since I subscribed 3 weeks ago! Silence is often a sign of agony! Very sad indeed. But, there may be light on the horizon. Clearly the banks would have to have lost confidence in the board and management's inability to steer the company in a profitable direction. I wonder if there is a "white knight" on the horizon?
deep inside, I'm ecstatic about the news.
Why would you be estatic about this, Eugene? Seems odd.
I considered getting an M Leica for a while, and now I'm sooo glad I didn't make that, in retrospect, very, very, decadently wrong decision.
This thread is sure bringing out all of the loony-balls out there...
The really funny thing is - Hermes' investment did not help Leica's financial position at all.
When Hermes made their investment (back in 2001, I think) they bought old shares at market price. At that time, I thought it was the last chance the smart insiders could sell their stock at a good price.
let's face it, Leica is (was) just a fetish.
just like other Hermes stuff.
Words "upscale" or "luxury" make no sense in professional photo equipment. It's either being marketed as a professional tool or as a fetish.
professional is a bs term as well....get real
"This thread is sure bringing out all of the loony-balls out there..."
heh, Grant, you made the next step.
obviously, the right one.
but fetish is no bs. fetish can be good.
I think, Peter A knows what I mean.
...and Leica is like a miniature Poodle lickin' its nuts, in front of a hungry pack of wolves.
All the camera companies will eventually go under or out of the camera business at some point. The future is small photo devices in cell phones and who knows what else. The stand alone camera is doomed to extinction.
"The future is small photo devices in cell phones and who knows what else. The stand alone camera is doomed to extinction."
agreed. the results of digital are far surpassing its expectations. seven years ago they felt a 100meg sensor/capture would be needed to equal 35mm film, it's turns out today, it's only 6meg. the only reason we have dslr bodies is because of all the lenses. none of it is necessary for capture and the devices will get smaller and easier and commonplace.
I'd bet Mr. Kobayashi would love to acquire Leica's expertise
Time will prove you wrong. Again.
Leica needs to get their SLR lenses out in Nikon, Canon and Minolta mount ASAP. Face it, its lenses that they do best and I am certain there are many digital SLR users with those systems that would die to get their hands on Leica glass.
Become the ultimate 3rd party lens maker!
Mike, you're kidding? the price of glass for Leica's is perhaps the main reason most people don't use it in the first place. And you think people are going to put down equally good Nikon glass for three times the amount? Come on man, you're just as out of touch as Leica itself...
"And you think people are going to put down equally good Nikon glass for three times the amount?"
Nikon's lenses generally aren't as good as the equivalent Leica glass. But if you can't see the difference, then you've saved yourself some money, that's for sure. ;-)
i guess i have Kevin But seriously, with most pictures being printed digitally, or not even leaving a monitor, or displayed on toliet paper printed with soy ink, how is Leica going to make better AF lenses than Nikon? (can i get an adapter for the Nocto 50? i want that one...)
It's hard for us (on the outside) to know what Leica's root cause problems are, but clearly they are not making their forecasts on key products. Also, the name "Leica" has become far less recognizable over the last 15 years, as advertising and promotion budgets have dropped. Significantly, the delta between "good" and "great" optics has narrowed, allowing low cost producers to create cameras of suitable quality for the masses.
So, what does this mean for Leica? First, it has to define its Target Market, then it has to create an "appeal" to that market. Finally, it needs to have the right products, services and pricing for that market.
Here are some (free) ideas for discussion:
1) The primary target market is the photojournalist. Secondary markets are (fill-in-the-blanks).
2) The "appeal" to the primary target segment: Compact but fully functional film and digital cameras suitable to the specific needs of photojournalists. Eg. R9, FZ20 and Digilux1/2. These cameras command a premium in the market for the following reasons:
1) reliability 2) ability to "grab" shots other cameras may miss 3) output quality 4) Lifetime warranty on parts and labor
Finally, what is the product mix? It should include services and other intangibles:
Annual maintenance subscription for non-warranty subscription services including preventive maintenance checkups, newsletters, webspace on Leica's site, discount on photo-safari's. Annual fee is 20% of the product selling price.
Weekly email messages with product endorsements and other promotional features, links to recent reviews.
Phone calls from Leica after service has been performed or to remind subscription owners of their annual CLA.
Tie-ins with 3rd parties - someone mentioned Fuji and Kodak on film... maybe specially formulated film, available from Leica, only available to Leica customers. Special SD RAM chips passing a higher level of Quality Control, only available from Leica.
We have heard examples of other industries that have "survived" the onslaught of new technologies. In almost every case, the new technologies were incorporated with the old.
Examples: Harley, lowered its cost of manufacture to become more profitable, can Leica do the same? Audio Research, will "update" old units (for a fee) helping customers protect their investments and making their products more valuable than competitors... can Leica do the same? Linn, the venerable turntable company, produced the first really hiqh quality CD-player - got RAVE reviews... kept its image in the marketplace ALIVE. Can Leica do the same?
Clearly, there's a LOT that Leica "can" do. But we don't know its strategy or its current position. Example, How big is the market for the Digital Back R? How many R8/R9's have been sold and are still in use? What % of R8/R9 buyers will buy the digital back? How many M7's will be sold? Since the older camera's are much beloved, why not re-introduce them (as has been done in the past). Would there be a buyer for a brand new M4 that is 20% below the cost of a used one, that was built as good or better, and had a lifetime parts warranty? Oh, yes, and required a 20% deposit up front and an 11 month wait to get. Hmmmm...
Instead of talking about all the "problems" at Leica (every company has problems) let's direct our efforts at helping save the company.
Most of these ideas would require very little expense... some re-tooling of manufacturing, reducing manufacturing costs. Other items are services, like the warranty, subscription, etc.
Leica could expand on the "photojournalist" target market by producing an annual subscription specifically geared to photojournalists. This could be advertiser sponsored, could have all kinds of content, and become a revenue generating portal. How much would that cost? As much as has been spent on the Digital Back R?
People have asked, what could Leica have done with the money that has been sprayed down the drain... they could have attracted new customers and coddled the existing ones.
Here are some examples of ways to build "brand loyalty":
There have been some reports (don't know if it's true) that some R-bodies were problematic. Why not do what Mazda did with the RX-7 when the new rotary engine started to fail... they backed up the engines with an extended 5 year warranty. Did they have to fix some engines, yes... but they are a car company still in business. Can Leica do the same? Suppose you are the "original" owner of an R body... why not offer to repair some of the "common problems" (assuming they exist) as part of a staged recall campaign. You get the camera in for repair, then you find that there are a few other things that can be done to it... like upgrades (new film spool, gaskets, etc. not part of the recall. You send a letter to the owner saying that for $150 we will "update" your 15-20 year old camera to "better than new" in some respects. Instant revenue. Of course you farm this work out to DAG, et. al., for $0.50 on the dollar, but it's still revenue... everyone's happy!
OK - creative time... I'm just throwing these ideas out there... there are other "target" groups other than photojournalists... how about...
"Sugar daddy is Hermes, a hugely profitable French company that may if anything increase its stake."
HA! Sugar daddy Hermes has been droping and desinvesting from all non-profiable haute-couture designers in the last months, just like the rest of the luxury industry. The old times when the luxury industry supported non-profitable brands for years and years has finished.
In my opinion Leica will survive as a lens maker, making lenses for elecrtonic companies, just like Zeiss. Most of the increase in revenue on Zeiss has come from the association with Sony according to their last annual report.
Separate names with a comma.