What works today won’t work forever: The fall of SLR cameras

After more than 60 years, Nikkei Asia reported that Nikon would stop developing new single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras.

The report detailed that Nikon has chosen to focus on developing mirrorless cameras, which have been increasing in popularity in recent years. 

Nikon, however, labeled these reports as speculative in a statement and has not made any formal announcement regarding the issue. Regardless, data reveals that mirrorless cameras have been overtaking SLR cameras in the market.

Once the iconic camera company’s bread-and-butter, SLR cameras have been becoming less popular in the past decade. Statista data reveals that sales of SLR cameras worldwide have been in constant decline since at least 2012.

Shipments of SLR cameras reached a low in 2021, with only 2.16 million units shipped worldwide.  In the same year, over 3 million mirrorless cameras were shipped

Nikkei Asia reported that smartphone cameras and mirrorless cameras have been beating SLR cameras due to their lighter weight, and more compact size while maintaining similar performance to SLR cameras. These options are also often cheaper than comparable SLR cameras. 

This case brings about an important point that many businesses fail to acknowledge: what makes a business successful today won’t make it successful forever.

A company’s success today might not be its success tomorrow: The case of SLR cameras

Nikon sold its first SLR camera model in 1959 and has seen success with the product for more than 60 years. But today’s shifting market preferences and technological advances are making SLR cameras less popular among photographers, in favor of mirrorless cameras.

Shifting its focus to mirrorless cameras seems to be the logical choice for the company, whether or not the Nikkei report is true. It was clear that the company wouldn’t see much more success in the product in the long run as SLR shipments have been in constant decline since at least 2012.

Companies need to understand that they have to constantly adapt to the ever-changing world. 

Forcibly sticking to the one thing that has made the company successful in the past years, even though indicators say they shouldn’t, is a recipe for disaster.

Competitors could easily outmaneuver a company that stagnates on its current business practices and doesn’t innovate its products, business models, and strategies.  

Adaptability and innovation can easily make a small startup more successful than an established and leading corporation. It is, therefore, crucial for companies to constantly be on the lookout for opportunities to innovate.

Stay competitive and successful through corporate innovation

The ultimate goal of innovation is to create new value for an organization by developing new or improving current products, strategies, and business models. Other aspects of a business that can be innovated include its branding, marketing, customer service, and delivery channels.

Companies can become more competitive by constantly looking for opportunities to innovate these aspects of their business. Newly developed innovations can help companies solve the problems of their customers better than their peers.

These innovations can also help ensure a company keeps up with the changing world or gets ahead of the change before its business fails. 

In Nikon’s case, the increasing popularity of mirrorless cameras may have prompted them to stop developing new versions of their mainstay SLR cameras. The shift can help Nikon solve their customer’s problems and serve their wants better, as mirrorless cameras were reported to exhibit similar or better performance than SLR cameras. 

Sticking too long to products in decline or to expiring business models can lead to the failure of a once-successful business.  Take Blockbuster for example.

It stuck to its physical media rental business for years while Netflix focused on online streaming, which eventually became the future of the industry. Netflix eventually dethroned Blockbuster in the lucrative media rental and streaming industry.

All companies have the risk of being replaced by more innovative companies with better products, and business models. Do you think your business is not as successful as it used to be? 

Maybe it’s time to make some changes. Our experts are ready to help you innovate.

Schedule a FREE 30-minute strategy session to explore the innovation solutions that best fit your organization.