My prediction is that in a few years, only Canon and Sony will still be in the Camera business.
Do you remember some of the great Film SLR manufacturers? Manufacturers such as Konica, Yashica, Mamiya, Contax and Bronica come to mind.
Even Minolta, who had the first cameras with Auto Focus, is out of the cameras making business.
Canon produces a lot more stuff than just digital cameras. They also produce Digital Camera Sensors.
Sony makes some great cameras, but more importantly they make Digital Camera Sensors and lots of other consumer goods.
Pentax has focused on the APS-C DSLR market. A full frame DSLR from Pentax may arrive later in 2014.
The Japanese Mirrorless Camera group includes FujiFilm, Panasonic and Olympus. Olympus has Sony backing it. Panasonic produces lots of consumer goods, but I’m not sure how profitable it is.
Mirrorless Camera sales outside of Japan have never caught on and are starting to drop.
Compact Camera sales worldwide have tanked.
Camera makers, IMHO, have stayed afloat thanks to the large number of compact cameras sold. Yes they made far less money (per camera sold) when compared to their DSLR sales, but Compact Cameras had huge sales volume.
Smartphones have cameras. Tablet computers of all sorts have digital cameras. They also make it easy for the consumer to share their photos with so called Social Media sites, like Facebook.
The quality of smartphone cameras is more than good enough for consumers. Posting a file on Facebook does not require the same file quality as a 16×20 inch physical print would. The quality benefit of DSLRs and their larger sensors is mute.
I suspect that the micro four thirds mirrorless market could disappear. APS-C cameras from Sony showed that you can put a larger sensor in a small body, with their NEX line.
Sadly I also suspect that more grande names will join the dust bin of history. My feeling is that Canon and Sony will survive. They produce a broad range of other products. They also produce their own camera sensors.
Sony in particular has spent massive amounts of money, over the last couple of years, to vastly increase the output capability of their Digital Sensor Fabs.
Sony was way ahead of the game, as they were heavily investing in Digital Camera Sensor fabs since at least 2010.
The next battleground I believe will be with Full Frame sensor DSLR cameras. As prices fall, there will be no point to buying APS-C sensor cameras. That will also help absorb Sony’s Sensor manufacturing capacity.
The Chicago Tribune recently published a Reuters article about the sad state of the Japanese Camera Industry.
A major wild card is the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant with fresh plumes of radioactive steam rising above one of the damaged reactors near the end of December 2013. You have lots of Camera and Lens factories, 1/2 an hour to an hour away from that nuclear plant. Canon and Sony have factories located far away, elsewhere in Japan.