Let me preface by saying – I really love Canon’s ELPH digital cameras. I’ve used many competitors’ models, and have yet to find any reason to recommend any other brand higher. Yes, Fuji has some better low-light processing, and yes Pentax has Divx video built-in, but for the masses, Canon just seems to build winner after winner.
But now they are doing too much of it, and I think it’s to the point of potential backlash. My rationale here is that they are making enthusiasts and evangelists like myself frustrated by having continuously out-of-date products. I purchased the Canon SD850is the day it was released, 9 weeks ago. Today it became obsolete. It’s too much, and now when I recommend Canon’s cameras, I always add a little disclaimer pointing out their rapid release cycles.
As a secondary, but important, issue, Canon’s numbering schema became really bizarre this year. The SD line was progressing fairly “normally”, from 100 to 110, to 200, to 300, and so on. Then there was the 700is and 800is, followed by the 750, 850is, 900, and 1000. Today they introduced the 870is and 950is. Here’s the catch – the 1000 is a distinctly inferior model to the 950is, and that’s just my example inconsistency (note to consumers: only buy the “is” line, the rest aren’t worth it).
In my opinion, Canon needs to pull this process together a bit. Here are my specific recommendations:
- No more than 2 model cycles per year, preferably less. The more you cycle your models, the more you upset your “friendly customers” and the more FUD you create. By having too many opportunities to buy, you are also creating opportunities for competition. It’s not easy to remain top dog forever.
- Create some kind of upgrade program. I would probably shell out another $50 or so to get the 870is form my 850is. Further, while this might sound hard logistically, it really isn’t that much work, especially if you partner up with some online companies that have the infrastructure. Like, say, eBay or Amazon.
- Fix the ELPH numbering scheme. Break up the is and non-is lines, start the numbers over, add a letter to the models, and be consistent. Whether we all like it or not “higher” model numbers always imply newer/better products.
That’s it folks – again, I still like the products, but this process is at that precipitous edge of becoming frustrating and a bad experience. Nobody likes to have a $400 item go from “newest” to “not so new” inside of the same season! I hope my friends at Canon read this and take away something useful from it.