View Full Version : What are some advantages to being a “first mover” in a particular industry?

Phil Goetz
November 12th, 2014, 09:06 PM
I sell cameras and I am working on my MBA. Yeah. Bad combination. Talk about a worm hole. Anywho, here’s the prompt in class and then the worm hole I fell into:


What are some advantages to being a “first mover” in a particular industry. What are some drawbacks or concerns?

Worm hole:

I have been selling digital cameras professionally since 2006. I have seen
major changes in cameras in this time frame. The term “first” can be defined as well as the term “mover”. “In 1986, Kodak invented the world's first megapixel sensor, capable of recording 1.4 million pixels that could produce a 5 x 7-inch digital output in print”. You would not know that by looking at current digital cameras for sale today. On May 31, 2005 Kodak discontinued making professional digital cameras. Kodak was first to market but moved their core technologies into other brands.

A brief info (sic) on Kodak DCS-Series Digital Still SLR cameras. Accessed Nov 9, 2014
Kodak DCS-Digital Still SLR camera - Index Page (

KODAK PROFESSIONAL DCS Pro SLR/n and SLR/c Digital Cameras. Accessed Nov 9, 2014

A big change when I started in the industry was coming: photo cameras that also shoot video. We are talking about the Casio EX-F1. Right? Right! Well… read on… Within a nine month period of time three of the biggest camera manufacturers in the world announced DSLR body style cameras that also shoot video. The Nikon D90 was announced August of 2008.

I didn’t see this video at the time but watched it recently:
[D90 promo video August 2008]:
Advanced Testing The Nikon D90 | Chase Jarvis RAW | ChaseJarvis - YouTube

NYTimes revierwed the D90 August 2008:

The Canon 5Dmk2 was announced the very next month, September 2008. The D90 offered 720p video while the 5Dmk2 offered 1080. Canon went on to outsell Nikon. The Panasonic GH1 was announced April 2009 but the market had made up its mind at that point. Despite the ability to hack the camera to record higher data rates and a semi universal new mount, micro-four thirds, a game of catch up had ensued. Sony was even further behind in introducing the video capable DSLR-A560 in August 2010.

Sony releases DSLR-A580 and DSLR-A560: Digital Photography Review (

Sony had developed the video sensor technology first though. On February 18, 2007 a review was published on a high speed ˝” sensor capable of video read out.
The sensor:
Sony 1/1.8" high speed CMOS sensor: Digital Photography Review (

The world did not notice when it was added to the Casio EX-F1 camera in January 2008. Stills are DNG or RAW and the lens is 12X lens, 36 – 432mm and it shot video!

The Casio manual Full HD Movie Recording:
Casio EXILIM Pro EX-F1: 60fps: Digital Photography Review (

The Casio camera instruction manual:

This could be argued as the first photo style camera that shot video. Unfortunately it did not have interchangeable lenses or the short depth of field that the 5Dmk2. So. Who was “first” and who “moved”? What were the cost leadership and focused differentiation qualities of the D90 / 5dmk2 and EX-F1? Maybe next semester…

Al Bergstein
November 13th, 2014, 11:18 PM
First Movers if done right, end up owning the specific industry niche.
FIrst movers if done wrong, often end up never being heard of again.

Your analysis on the Nikon versus Canon is very astute. There are lots of other examples, who was the first to bring MP3 players to market? Where are they now? Who was the leader in smartphones prior to the iphone? Where are they now? Who brought out the first diesel car engine? Where are they now? Why was Microsoft unable to capitalize on their early tablet pc?

It's not enough to come to market with something first, unless you are looking to sell your company and move on.

But a first mover, if done right, can often convince others that a market exists. They may not have the money, or market power to make it happen.

Right now, there are a lot of 4k 'first movers'. Obviously Panny and their GH4 has carved out the mindshare for it, but really it's we are seeing a wave of others show up. Panny has been there before and not held on. And Canon has yet to bring their ideas to the table.Heck, there are cell phones with 4k chips in them! I think the 4k market is up for grabs, and likely everyone will be doing it by this time next year. The good news is that because of the downsizing for the web, we can still shoot 1080p and get away with it. And likely will for a few more years. It's not like SD vs. HD.

Charles Papert
November 16th, 2014, 10:59 AM
JVC has historically been first to market with a long list of innovations in the video sector, but yet somehow they tend to end up the bridesmaid and never the bride.

Dave Blackhurst
November 16th, 2014, 03:51 PM
The tech graveyard of history is littered with "firsts"... with the perspective of time, it's virtually meaningless.

First may mean you or your company came up with the idea, tickled the fancies of the consumer, created the market, sold a boatload... but it's NO guarantee of longer term success or longevity...

Of course if you have a young instructor still starry eyed with shiny flashy things and "brilliant" marketing concepts, the above borders on heresy, but it's a painful truth.

Being "first" has bragging rights... if you manage to monetize it, it may make you quite well off (or break you if your "first" fails)... and any truly innovative idea has a product life cycle that may be months, years, perhaps even decades before it too goes into the dustbin of history.

Seen lots of "firsts" come and go in my lifetime, hope to see many more! Still scratching my head at why anyone would want a "smart watch"...

David Heath
November 16th, 2014, 04:29 PM

What are some advantages to being a “first mover” in a particular industry. What are some drawbacks or concerns?
It's an interesting question, the more so the more you think about it.

And a lot of the factors can be both advantages and (potential) disadvantages as well. I'd say the main criteria are firstly not just to have the right idea - but to try to bring it to market at the right time. Second is to promote hard whilst you're the only player in the market, get YOUR brand or whatever established before the market can react and try to compete.

A potential advantage is it gives you the OPPORTUNITY to get your standard established as de facto, let alone your name associated with whatever the "new thing" is. But if it's slow getting off the mark, either through lack of promotion or because it's ahead of it's time, that won't happen, your competitors are likely to bring out an improved standard some time later, and in that case the original standard becomes a millstone - not an asset.

Best example I can think of is domestic videocassettes. Betamax preceded VHS but ultimately lost the battle. There were two fundamental reasons, technical was down to VHS being more expandable, more able for it's feature set to be able to be expanded. The other was licensing - the VHS standard was more open and easier for more manufacturers to produce their own models.

(This gave rise to the myth that Betamax was inherently better quality than VHS. That is not true as such. Compare like for like models (in terms of price) and at any given time there was little to choose between them. BUT Betamax were nearly always high spec, high spec - VHS came in a wide range, including some which can best be described as cheap and cheerful. Compare a Betamax machine with a far cheaper VHS model, and yes, it was better - compare two machines the same price and there was little in it.)

Sabyasachi Patra
December 2nd, 2014, 08:02 AM
The Nikon D90 was announced on Aug 27th and Canon 5DII was announced on Sep 17th 2008. Basically three weeks apart were the announcements of both these cameras. Camera announcements are based on strategy to see the hand of the competitor and hence the date of announcement depends on the tactics the company follows. Competitors keep an eye on each other. In view of this, terming Nikon as the early mover is a fallacy. D90 was basically a 720p camera with worst jello vis-a-vis Canon 5DII with 1080p and a full frame sensor. So generalisation that the first movers don't do well doesn't apply here.

In digital cameras, Kodak had the technology but didn't come to market first. Kodak launched the 14 megapixel DCS Pro SLR/c on Mar 18,2004 but Canon had launched the 11 megapixel 1Ds on Sep 24, 2002. Kodak perhaps had no incentive to be a disrupt its film roll business and hence didn't bring the digital technology to the market.

Having said that, history is replete with examples of first movers grinding to a dust.

Xerox corporation was the early leader in photocopiers but it lost out. In most of the markets it is also ran.

RED came out with 4K cameras, although those were heavy suitcases and a lot of those sold. Sony, panasonic, ikegami and others were selling 1080i cameras and talking of 2k but not 4k. Today Arri, Sony, Canon etc have hit back and have nullified that lead of RED.

The fact is you become a first mover due to an idea. However, execution of that idea and continual refinement of it is very important. The early mover loses out on that if it doesn't have the willpower, resources, market acumen.

Andrew Smith
December 7th, 2014, 07:55 PM
The downside of being a first mover when buying gear is that you can get burnt a bit, or so it feels.

I still remember purchasing a very expensive SCSI connected Syquest 5Ľ inch 44/88Mb removable media drive. Just weeks later their 3˝ inch 270Mb drive was announced. I really hated that.