Within Hours

(commentary)

I made a comment about Nikon shooting their sales in the foot by the way they're treating the D600 dust/lubricant issue (next story). Within minutes I received:

  • "I have waited to buy a D600 because of the dust and oil issue to see how Nikon would respond." 
  • "I am one of those film holdouts...couldn't pull the trigger because of the poor dust/oil reputation of the D600." 
  • "Will reserve buying a D600 till it all sorts out.


And some more from this morning:

  • "I'm definitely still waiting for Nikon to make a[n FX] camera without major problems."
  • "Because of the recent quality issues I am very reluctant to upgrade to the D800."
  • "I've waited while Nikon fixes/denies the focus & dirt problems. I can't be the only guy with the income to buy who is making the same calculation."
  • "I was this close to pulling the trigger [on a D800]...but the AF issues put me off. I guess I'll wait for a D900."
  • "I am not rich but I can free up funds for a D600 or D800 if I wanted to. But I have been holding off since I don't want to test drive for Nikon."
  • Used the "Was this answer helpful" link on the service advisory page to tell Nikon: "[I'm] not buying the D600 until they let me know that they have actually resolved [the problem]."
  • "I'm guessing that while a future D7100 buyer may not have considered the D600 or D800 they are likely aware of the QA issues." which was immediately following in my In box by:
  • "I would have ordered a D7100 last week to replace my D90. However I have no interest in buying a product with flaky AF [and] that contains the sweepings off the factory floor."
  • "Count me in with the others who have written you about holding back from buying a D600 or D800 owing to QC issues. I would have purchased FX months ago if not for these issues."


Since I posted that article, I've received at least a couple of dozen like responses within hours. Let's see, 24 x US$2500 = US$60,000 in lost sales. Add those to the hundreds of similar ones I've already received and my little Web site is observing a mid-six figure impact on Nikon's sales. Is anyone aware of any survey from Nikon that asks the question "are you more reluctant to buy a high-end Nikon than before" and why? Surely I can't be the only person that sees the lost sales problem. (And yes, I have a vested interest here: more D600 and D800 camera sales implies more book sales for me eventually.)

Gee, Nikon, you had to lower your sales estimates for the year. You blamed that on "making too much inventory just in case there was another flood." You think it might be a different reason, though? Like "we're not fessing up to your QA struggles?"

Here's the thing: the person likely to buy a US$2000-3000 Nikon FX DSLR is not new to the SLR/DSLR camera market. You generally don't graduate high school and pop for your first serious camera, a D600. Most folk that are buying these high-end cameras are (or at least used to be) loyal, long-time Nikon users. Even Nikon themselves suggested that D7000 users should step up to the D600 (rather than wait for the D7100, as it now turns out ;~). 

If the US$2000-3000 FX buyers are not loyal, long-term Nikon users then they're Canon or Minolta/Sony SLR/DSLR users who have decided the grass is now greener on the other side and are convinced that Nikon's offering this time is tempting enough to switch. But that grass doesn't look so green if the left side doesn't focus right and you get hundreds of dust particles for thousands of shots that the dust-removal system doesn't actually remove.

Let's put a number on things. Yes, it'll be a somewhat arbitrary number, but let's do it anyway. Let's say that just 5% of the potential buyers are put off by Nikon's refusals to acknowledge a clear issue on both the D600 and D800. We're up to what, 70,000 US D800 purchasers in one year? 5% works out to be about 3700 lost sales. That's US$9.35 million dollars in lost sales to NikonUSA (US$11 million at retail prices). Now we have to start adding D600 lost sales to that.

You can clean a lot of sensors right for the amount of money that Nikon is likely losing in sales.

Oh, and I just noticed this in Nikon's manual for the D600 (page 300): "Dust or other foreign matter inside the camera may cause damage not covered under warranty." Gee, even when it was put there in the factory? ;~)

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