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For more than 70 years, Nikon has proudly manufactured most of their cameras in their home country of Japan. However, times have changed, and the camera market has faltered. In a bid to save money, Nikon has announced that all cameras will be made in Thailand by the end of 2021. While this might not sound like a big deal, this news has sent shockwaves through the industry. It certainly helps paint a clearer picture of just how bad cash flow is in the industry. Nikon is the latest to try and slash costs, but will more manufacturers follow? Let’s talk about this.
According to reports on Nikon Rumors, Nikon has taken the bold step of ceasing all manufacturing of cameras in Japan. By the end of 2021, all cameras will be made at a plant in Thailand. As it stands, the Nikon Z6 and Z7 are already produced at the facility in Thailand, while the remaining camera produced in Japan (the D6) will join them later. Nikon’s plant in Sendai, Japan, has been the crown jewel in Nikon’s production line for years. It’s here where cameras were meticulously crafted and checked before being shipped around the world. Nikon is known for great build quality and reliability. Still, Nikon has said that they will continue to produce high-performance, high-precision parts required for products at their Thailand facilities. Time will tell if this will be the case.
The Writing’s on the Wall
This latest news is just one piece of a much larger picture. This year, we learned about Olympus’s sale to JIP as the camera market just wasn’t sustainable for Olympus anymore. Olympus themselves had already moved production to Vietnam in an attempt to lower production costs. It seems as though Nikon is on a similar trajectory. We know things have not been rosy for Nikon for quite some time now. It’s a shame to see a one time giant struggling to gain traction in the market. Still, the writing has been on the wall.
Obviously, we hope that these cost-cutting measures at Nikon do the trick. Nobody wants to see any camera manufacturer go out of business. But what has caused Nikon’s fall from the top? We could sit and argue that Nikon’s reluctance to jump into the Mirrorless market sooner could be the cause. It may well have played a part. Their current Z cameras are good, but they’re not great, and in many ways, they are still playing catch up to Sony and now Canon. However, this goes back much further than just the leap from DSLR to Mirrorless. This goes all the way back to 2007 when the first iPhone hit the market.
No One Saw This Coming
All camera manufacturers have been in an uphill race ever since the smartphone wars began. The death of point and shoots (and the cash cow they were for Nikon and others) is continuing to take its toll. With that income gone, and the price of doing business rising, this was just a matter of time. Cameras in smartphones continue to get better month after month. In 2007, when Apple launched the iPhone with a 2 Megapixel camera, nobody knew just how big an impact phones would have on the camera industry. Whether or not other camera manufacturers will shift into sustainability mode is yet to be seen. Still, don’t be shocked if they do.