Schopf: Japanese Shooting Themselves in Knee

In an article over on Die Welt where they interview Alfred Schopf of Leica in, "The Japanese are shooting themselves in the foot from a marketing perspective" (in German) are some interesting tidbits. For example, the Leica M-E is selling better than anyone thought; some 300-350 per month. He goes on to say that releasing new cameras every six months only serves to frustrate customers and doubts we'll see 60MP cameras any time soon. The big news is that he confirms what we've told you - successors to the S and X2 cameras will be announced at Photokina 2014!

Highlights

  • Leica sells 300-350 M-E cameras per month
  • There are 186 Leica stores/boutiques
  • Leica will introduce S and X2 successors
  • 60MP not likely to be commonplace soon
  • Video isn't used in-camera very much
  • Kaufmann owns 55%, Blackstone 45%
  • Blackstone can't complain on their return
    and will probably sell in the medium term

The Article

The article translated into English (via Google):

"Japanese shoot themselves in the foot from a marketing perspective"

Last year, the camera market collapsed. Leica deserves nevertheless good as Chef Alfred Schopf says. The small German noble brand is successful - unlike rivals from the Far East.

Die Welt: Mr. Schopf, there was already years, as the future of the last German camera manufacturer seemed anything but certain. How is Leica today in this difficult market?

Schopf: We're fine. Last year broke the entire camera market, instead of 90 million cameras, the industry sold only 60 million. We, however, grew by five percent. In constant currency, we would have achieved double-digit sales growth.

Die Welt: And you make a profit?

Schopf: Let me say this: Leica earning good money. Look at the numbers, however our Japanese competitors on, you expect out their positive currency effects amounting to 35 percent and you see how bad it really is which.

Die Welt: That sounds like gloating.

Schopf: No, not at all. We only now just many things differently than the competition and be rewarded for it. We focus on each of our cameras on excellent lenses, large sensors in a compact housing, a simpler user interface and a haptic experience. In addition, our marketing concept is another. We set our prices not only three months after launch down, but put on a private, high-quality retail concept. We have now 186 worldwide Leica stores and boutiques.

Die Welt: As unique, many of the things you mentioned no more. Sony has with the A-series compact camera with a great sensor and good workmanship. And these devices cost only a fraction of a Leica.

Schopf: But but they have far too little high-class lenses.

Die Welt: As Zeiss jumps yes Sony now with its own line of lenses.

Schopf: I am very curious. But ultimately is the way, the Sony has taken, of course, a confirmation of our philosophy. We are much smaller than Sony and must therefore focus. The benefits us now. Sony on the other hand can try a lot. These are the most exciting cameras 2014

Die Welt: It has been the impression that Sony is driving the market with its innovations especially in the sensor area in front of it.

Schopf: I believe that we are approaching an optimum at the sensors. Good As It Gets hardly. Check out the 36-megapixel full-frame sensor on who is faced with the Sony and the Nikon D810 A7R. Which is extremely difficult to handle. You have to watch very closely to the time of the exposure time to get the maximum. I'm not sure that we - as many observers believed until recently - will eventually see a very, very high-resolution full-frame sensor with 60 megapixels.

Die Welt: Well, if you look at the past, there were a rapid development. Quasi each half year, the technology improves.

Schopf: I see it differently. Much of what came on the market since the recent Photokina two years ago, is more marketing than a great technical progress. The video function of their cameras do not even use a lot of people. Us, anyway does this development not hurt.

Die Welt: Until the hit still takes.

Schopf: Honestly, many of the Japanese producers shoot themselves but technically marketing itself regularly in the knee. They bring every six months a new camera on the market. No sooner is this on the shelves, they lower the prices so that the customers who have already purchased, frustrated suffered a loss in value. So it does not bind customers.

Die Welt: How then? In preparing the luxury cameras for the super rich?

Schopf: They're outdated ideas. Leica customers are certainly not the dentists with Porsche in front of the garage. The range is very large. Sure, Russian President Vladimir Putin called a Leica S his own. But us, every customer is equally welcome. We are happy just with the American who saves a Leica M since the age of nine, as well as on the aforementioned dentist, for the money that is less subject.

Die Welt: But professional photographers buy but hardly a Leica.

Schopf: you think. The majority of people who buy a Leica, has dealt with photography. These customers have high demands on your own creativity and often believe that, for example, the autofocus would restrict it. But honestly, we have discussed up and down the target topic. I have it then ended. We need the customers who want their camera absparen from the mouth. And we need the customers who pay their equipment out of petty cash.

Die Welt: you have with the M, the X, T and the S-series a total of four premium lines on offer. Which run away because according to your requirements?

Schopf: The demand for our products is generally good. The medium format camera from the S series is, however, reached the end of their life cycle. Since it will soon be at the Photokina news. The same applies to the X-2 with the permanently installed lenses and the APSC sensor, which we will introduce at Photokina the successor. Thus, new system cameras beat the test

Die Welt: Who would buy the X-series still for so much money, where Leica but now has the T-series, which is strongly reminiscent of an iPhone and when you can change lenses?

Schopf: There are people who change the lenses reluctant because dirt can then get to the sensor. And our built-in X-series lenses are simply very, very good. The X continues to enjoy great popularity.

Die Welt: Your most prestigious series, the traditional rangefinder cameras, still the old CCD sensor offer next to the new M 240 with the Leica ME. When the bearings are because finally empty?

Schopf: The Leica ME sold surprisingly well. No one would have thought so. Our assumption was that the ME totläuft with the introduction of the new M and the new sensor within a year. This is not the case. We sell them still 300 to 350 cameras per month.

Die Welt: If it runs so great, then it's only a matter of time before your investor you sold. Are there any plans?

Schopf: How indeed belong to 55 percent Andreas Kaufmann as anchor investor. The rest of our shares is Blackstone. And Blackstone would be no financial investor, if he would not eventually find the exit in us. On the other hand: For the price, the Blackstone has paid for our shares, Blackstone can not complain about the previous development. But surely this investor wants to get out in the medium term.

Die Welt: Did Stephen Schwarzman Blackstone boss a Leica?

Schopf: If, then he has at least not purchased directly from us. But we have presented a year ago our plans right in front of him, and he brought us as a brand a high degree of sympathy.