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August 20, 2011

Could this happen if a major camera manufacturer ejected from the market?

As many of you heard earlier in the week, HP decided to cancel their WebOS/Palm/Touchpad hardware. That may have been a surprise given how quickly the company pulled the plug, but certainly not unexpected considering the wild west nature of the mobile market. So HP decided to clear inventory of their 10-inch Touchpad tablets. They priced the 16GB model at $100 and the 32GB model for $150 on their own website, with a few other online retailers following suit.

UPDATE 8/21/11 at 11:48am EST: it looks like the 32GB model may be available at the HP Small Business store for $150. Please note this is a wild liquidation sale so the purchase/checkout/shipping process may be bumpy and irritating!

What happened next however was a big surprise. From the moment the news leaked online, an unprecedented frenzy began at the bargain hunting forums. One would think the interest in a failed product that got yanked after just one month in the market wouldn't be that high. Yet at Slick Deals, one of the biggest bargain hunting forums, in just 20 hours, threads discussing the liquidation sale had five million views [corrected link]. For a failed product.

So with that as background, could something like this happen if one of the major camera manufacturers decided to eject from the market? For example, what if an SLR/interchangeable-lens manufacturer decided "that's it, we had enough with this market, we can't do it anymore, we are bleeding money, liquidation sale begins in 5,4,3,2,1".

What would you do? Would you buy camera gear at liquidation prices knowing this was the end of the line? To ground this example more in reality, what if they were offering the Pentax K-r or Sony A55 or Nikon D5100 or Canon D-Rebel T3i/600D for $200? Would you be tempted, knowing that you could find things on eBay and the Used market but would have no support and no new products from the manufacturer?

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