Analyzing the demand for the Nikon D800

back orderedNikon has struggled to fulfill the demand of the new Nikon D800, but is it really all their fault? And what does this mean for future camera launches?

Go onto any online photography forum and you’ll see a thread about the lack of supply for the Nikon D800. Some have been waiting months since the initial launch and pre-order start date. Their frustrations and concerns are well justified, I mean why launch a new product if you don’t have enough supply to fill the orders right?

However I think we’re focusing on the wrong issue. It’s not the supply but the demand that we should be looking at. Let me explain.

The online rumor mill on the D800 and it’s features started more than six months prior to its arrival. Unlike 5 or 7 years ago where one or two online sites talked about new camera’s, we now had every online photography site (including this one) hyping up the arrival date.

I’ll go even further and say that in the last two years the addition of online camera “rumor” sites have grown more than 5 to 10 times. Just my opinion, no scientific fact. The demand was created by the online community, a phenomenon only seen in recent years.

Below is a graph taken directly from Google Insights analyzing the search phrase “Nikon D800”. As you can see prior to the launch there was an increase of searches for that term. On February 5, 2012 it peaked, that was the announcement date.

This rise is expected, however what’s interesting is the amount of the “peak”, it reached 100. Google insight states that “these are not absolute search volume numbers, because the data is normalized and presented on a scale from 0-100”. Not all search terms peak at 100, try different search terms and see what you get.

The D800 graph is very identical to when the Canon 5d Mark III was launched, see graph below.

From the graphs, we can’t tell the “volume” of searched, but we can conclude that the “interest” and thus demand for information regarding the D800 was similar to that of the 5d Mark III. Canon is a much larger company than Nikon, that we know. And so is their ability to manufacturer more units in a single month.

So in this case, it’s not a question necessarily of supply as it is more of demand. Photography and those who purchase mid to high end camera equipment is more of a niche. It’s not like Apple when they produce millions of iPads or Sony supplying millions of TV’s. I don’t know the production numbers per month for Nikon, but I’m pretty sure it’s not in the millions or even hundreds of thousands. I’d say it’s more in the tens of thousands and in the low end at that.

Some may see this as a bad thing, not being able to fulfill the demand. But as a company, I’m sure Nikon is loving it. This means they are growing and with high demand means more resources to allocate to that growth.

So if you’re one of the many people waiting for a D800, look at the graph above and note that the “interest” is still high for that particular model. So unlike the first month, one may be looking at weeks rather than months if you placed your order in the last couple of months. Plus,look at it this way, in the next several years Nikon will have more resources to fulfill your future orders faster.

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