Monday, July 20, 2015

Punditry Gone Mad II

As I have noted in the past, guys like Michael Reichmann (LuLa), Thom Hogan (a phalanx of blogs), Ming Thein (, and probably many others are fond of writing little essays about how dumb camera makers are, and how smart they are.

Michael, in particular, is fond of talking about how he has meetings with the camera makers, drinks sake with them. He knows stuff. And yet they mysteriously continue to not implement his dumb feature ideas. Michael has drunk sake with the engineers (almost certainly not -- probably engineering managers) and he can tell us that the reason Nikon doesn't do X, Y, or Z is pure hubris. Why drinking sake with the engineers is supposed to give insight into high level corporate strategy is left, apparently, as an exercise to the reader.

Despite all these people's claims of business acumen (and they do universally claim substantial experience and ability) they seem to not know a basic fact:

We call people like these influencers. They do not, in general, influence the company. The influence goes the other way, they influence the market. Customers listen to these guys.

These meetings meetings have a very specific purpose, they are to give Michael and his ilk a carefully curated message to take to the market. As a courtesy they'll listen to his feature ideas, and will nod pleasantly. Hai! Hai! Kampai! But the purpose is not so that the influencer can help us develop strategy, thanks. We have other people we talk to for that (see below).

The influencers job is to carry water for the company. Period. In return, they get to feel important, they get access, they get content to write about. They most certainly do not get to drive product development.

Either these pundits are ignorant of how business works, or they don't care. They're all in the click farming business, after all, and articles about how dumb camera makers are are rich soil for growing a crop of clicks.

If these bozos really want to influence camera maker strategy, they need to use their position to launch a market research firm. This has a couple of problems. Actual market research would almost certainly not support their pet features (oops, how embarassing), and it would be actual labor. Drinking sake, flying around the world taking crummy pictures, and bloviating on the internet are not much work. I can personally attest to how easy it is to bloviate on the internet.

Until they actually start gathering market data in an organized way, you should ignore any implications and suggestions that they have influence with the camera makers.

They don't.

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