Respected Japanese research firm Techno System Research published data showing that in 2020, Nikon’s marketshare decreased by 26 percent. All firms had a tough time during the pandemic, with camera sales down about 40 percent. But firms that launched more and more complete mirrorless systems gained share. Nikon’s marketshare losses were almost completely offset by gains in share of Canon, Sony and Fujifilm, in that order. Canon sold 48 percent of cameras; Sony 22 percent; Nikon 14 percent and Fujifilm 6 percent.
Nikon launched their Z7 camera well before Canon managed to push out its stop-gap EOS R mirrorless camera. The Nikon body was better, but Nikon waited years before starting to flesh out professional-level Z mount glass. In the meantime, Canon launched its R5 camera in July 2020 after an intimidating amount of lenses were released, and its share since has largely been limited merely by how quickly it can manufacture those bodies in a logistics-constrained pandemic environment. All the while, Sony continued to improve its body line-up, dominating mirrorless with the A7R4 until Canon’s R5 launch.
These high-end bodies are more relevant today in terms of marketshare because the low end of the market – the Rebel-class DSLRs of yesterday – appear to be sitting in the buggy whip bin, that category being primarily responsible for the decline in camera sales for the past two years.
Many in the financial markets were betting against Nikon as late as six months ago, with the potential of a cash crunch seriously impeding its prospects for survival. After an assets sale, though, the markets bought back into the venerable firm, assessing that the valuation was over-corrected after the coffers were refilled.
Nikon also took the opportunity then to offshore a significant amount of its manufacturing – something quite hard to do in Japan. That offshoring may have helped with margins, but it does not appear to have helped with the cadence of lens development and delivery, which has been more anemic for Nikon customers than with any other major brand.