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05-02-2013, 12:33 PM - 15 Likes   #1
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Q User Group had a GoToMeeting Call with James Malcolm

I will begin by stating my impression that James Malcolm is truly a Pentax Enthusiast, who wants to develop the Americas and wants to exploit the inherent strengths of the brand. In our conversation he just feels like a nice guy, a genuine photographer who is also an accomplished executive. Sometimes that can be faked - I've been around enough Exec's over the last 35 years to know it - but I don't think so this time. Just my gut feeling, but I'm right a lot more often than I'm wrong.

A group of Q Users from Pentax Forums participated on a GoToMeeting Conference Call with James Malcolm Tuesday, April 30th. The call lasted about 1¼ hours and covered a broad range of topics related to Q and Q10, as well as some additional discussion of Pentax Ricoh Americas Corp. current and historical market position, strategy and coming marketing efforts. He also commented on Pentax Ricoh Imaging Company, Ltd. current and long term vision.

After Jim’s recent interview with DPI, in which he stated that no one who responded to the Facebook offer to speak to Jim specifically stated the responder was a Q User, I immediately emailed PRAC and offered to gather a group of Q Users from PF who would like the opportunity to speak to Pentax. Within literally moments Pentax Ricoh Americas’ Public Relations Director Amber R. responded, forwarded the offer to Jim’s internal Administrative Manager Claudia G. and the offer was made

The group was formed of several PF members domiciled in the USA out of 20 selected as frequent posters in the Q Forum who responded to my PM invitation to participate. A few weeks of emailing back and forth to arrange a suitable common time we could make a conference call resulted in our opportunity. Participants included: monochrome; crewl1; pearsaab; hnikesch; verdigris; GibbyTheMole; barondla; and LeRolls. deadwolfbones was unable to join due to a late work commitment.

Coincidentally that group included Early Q Adopters, users who are pushing the envelope of Q uses such as Birding with the Q for K Adapter and Red Dot Finder (Super-Reach Users), Cine with adapted C-mount and D-mount lenses, experimenters with external EVF’s, (small) size aficionados who carry Q in a briefcase and casual camera users. Not everyone who responded is enthusiastic about Q but those who weren’t are deeply interested in what Jim had to say and prepared to offer opinions, or offered them through email to the Group in advance.

First Jim made some introductory remarks about the value of doing interviews, referring to the single comment in the DPI interview eliciting the response that led to this call. He expressed sincere appreciation for our allocation of time to give him feedback about how we use Q and why we bought it. He described himself as a Q enthusiast and displayed a photo of his 2 Q’s, “GoEverywhere” kit which consists of five native Q-mount lenses, the Q for K Converter, Tripod Foot, D-FA 100 Macro WR, FA31(?), and an adapted Auto110 lens.

There followed about 15 minutes of general Q&A about PRAC and PRI in the global marketplace. In response to our question, Pentax is making an effort to include all the Q accessories on the Pentax Website including the Tripod Foot, as well as the 01 Prime as a standalone purchase. He offered an explanation of how initial orders for the Q kits, coupled with production runs of the lenses made obtaining an inventory of the 01 lens somewhat of a challenge. We asked several questions about upcoming Q line extensions and a lens roadmap that he declined to answer for competitive reasons.

He spoke briefly, without prompting about the confusion and uproar that his comment regarding FF in the DPI interview caused, and assured us that FF is real, but also is not soon.

We asked about Third-Party lens makers releasing in K-mount – and he explained that the problem isn’t so much current sales of Pentax bodies, which may be sufficient, as it is that the total installed base of Pentax bodies is insufficient to encourage these manufacturers. He went on to explain that use of color on mid-range bodies (K-30) and on Q10 is as much about stimulating purchase of an additional body in a Household as it is about acquiring a new customer. He described the placement of the “100 Colors of Q” kiosks in Dealer locations as a very effective merchandising tool, especially for custom orders that stimulate gift giving. He also described an effort to market in college towns in the body colors of the school colors (not an NCAA licensed body, just in the colors), especially during August. As these non-traditional sales are made market share and installed base increases – and these sales count every bit as much as black bodies do.

He acknowledged the challenge facing a customer who needs to touch and hold a camera before the purchase [EDIT – Just Hold a Pentax] and is actively pursuing new distributions in Brick&Mortar stores. He described the prior “Distributor” arrangement as extremely damaging to the Dealer Brand relationship and that PRAC has a lot of fences to mend, but they are working on them one at a time. He referred to recent returns to Hunt’s Camera and a new return to a Dealer in SoCal.

He unequivocally stated Pentax is committed to the Q-mount, the K-mount and the 645-mount, and will continue to develop releases and products that leverage these mounts and keep them fresh and competitive. They see Q-mount as in its very early stages, and perhaps the best poised for true growth. They see a true Q system and Q ecology and stated there will be significant progress and technology in Q in the future.

The brand identity is value based on quality, engineering, ergonomics and IQ, not price. That will carry across all products eventually as they are refreshed.

He said Pentax has adopted Ricoh’s strategy of maintaining Firmware Updates for products in the catalog as a customer-binding practice that costs little to do.

The final 45 or so minutes Jim solicited our opinions, observation, inputs and suggestions specifically for Q. We discussed many individual needs. The three that perhaps received the most two-way discussion were:
Larry (crewl1) - Create and market Aspirational Bundles (Jim’s restatement of what we called Kits) for specialized uses, such as for Birding (there were other examples, such as Macro and Cine given). These would be made available on the Webstore and featured in some way, just as they do for 645. Of course, Pentax doesn't care if a customer buys the items piecemeal - just buy them. For example:
DA*300, Q>K Converter, (Tripod Foot), Pentax RedDot Finder
Dave (verdigris) - There was a long discussion on Cine (Video) and Q’s pluses and minuses, especially with adapted lenses as young videographers attempt to capture the look of old films. The size / quality-of-output ratio is unparalleled ("You can stick your hand through the fence") and should be expanded and marketed. This discussion included talk about the HDMI-out functions and whether it makes sense to release an API to Third-Party manufacturers, which he said Pentax could consider.

Amy (pearsaab) - Use of an external EVF, whether mounted to the flash shoe or tethered through the HDMI-out. My personal impression was while Jim sees the potential he didn’t seem altogether encouraging. He gave several examples of why he feels (and presumably Pentax feels) the technology isn’t quite at the point yet where it works well for LED EVF’s. OLED may be a different story
Last he described some efforts to serve local markets at Holiday sales time with trained demonstrators. He suggests this year there may be as many as 95, but with better training than they had time to give last year. He described a “Colors of Q” affinity opportunity at New York Dealers affiliated with the upcoming Gay Pride parade in New York.

Lastly he counseled a bit of patience. He cited CIPA data that show other manufacturers are producing significantly more cameras than they are selling, and thus experiencing an involuntary inventory build. Pentax is not subjecting itself to this risk. As a company Ricoh is twice the size of Nikon and half the size of Canon, so these business decisions are strategic, all made under an intermediate term belief that there can be a third major camera brand and it will be Pentax, and that the 20 year Vision remains to be Number 1. Within that strategy there are shorter tactical actions that don’t appear to make sense without the intermediate and long term context. He asked again that we be patient.



Last edited by monochrome; 07-30-2013 at 08:48 PM.
05-02-2013, 12:48 PM   #2
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Thanks for talking with James and reporting back. When can we expect the roadmapped lenses?
05-02-2013, 12:55 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
Thanks for talking with James and reporting back. When can we expect the roadmapped lenses?
Well we asked about a specific and obvious addition to the line that has been discussed here often. He responded that he could not respond. You may draw your own conclusions from my own non-response.
05-02-2013, 12:58 PM   #4
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Thanks for this information, J

05-02-2013, 12:59 PM   #5
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Very lengthy and great report of your experiences. If only we could reach him again to talk about the price increases for the lenses that happened today.
05-02-2013, 01:01 PM   #6
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Thanks! Awesome feedback!
05-02-2013, 01:31 PM - 1 Like   #7
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Thanks. The best information that came out of that for me was this statement
"He said Pentax has adopted Ricoh’s strategy of maintaining Firmware Updates for products in the catalog as a customer-binding practice that costs little to do."

I appreciate such commitment to prior sales from a company.
05-02-2013, 01:44 PM   #8
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Well done sir and everyone else that participated!

05-02-2013, 02:06 PM   #9
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Nice update!

Was there any discussion on the Q Lens roadmap? When is the wide prime coming out?

Last edited by DaveInPA; 05-02-2013 at 02:23 PM.
05-02-2013, 02:31 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by DaveInPA Quote
Nice update!

Was there any discussion on the Q Lens roadmap? When is the wide prime coming out?
Very generally and carefully, yes there was disucssion. See my Post #3 above.

Last edited by monochrome; 05-02-2013 at 04:22 PM.
05-02-2013, 02:34 PM   #11
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Thanks for the great summary!

As for the roadmap questions above, Jim started out by letting us know that he would not be able to answer questions about future product releases for obvious reasons.

Too bad the timing of the price increases was subsequent, as I would have loved to have been able to ask the question.
05-02-2013, 02:39 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by JinDesu Quote
Very lengthy and great report of your experiences. If only we could reach him again to talk about the price increases for the lenses that happened today.
See tactics in the context of intermediate term strategy in the Post.
05-02-2013, 02:41 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by crewl1 Quote
Thanks for the great summary!

As for the roadmap questions above, Jim started out by letting us know that he would not be able to answer questions about future product releases for obvious reasons.

Too bad the timing of the price increases was subsequent, as I would have loved to have been able to ask the question.
Larry: Thanks for the ongoing experimentation, posting, Moderation of the Q Forum (with Hans) and for the long emails and summary of the conversation!! You and three or four others are the leaders of this little community
05-02-2013, 03:24 PM   #14
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Fantastic. It is unfortunate however that this meeting wasn't made too public on the forums. I'm sure the rest of the community would have liked to had an input of what was going to be discussed. A public poll would have been nice. I can't really live on forums nor do I have the time to spend much time online. I'd rather dedicate free time towards my hobby of photography or editing photos. It is a tough balance but I guess those who dedicate their time online do indeed have priority in these cases.

Thanks again, this new information is very promising and makes me proud to have purchased the Pentax Q. I look forward to buying more of their products.
05-02-2013, 04:06 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
Thanks. The best information that came out of that for me was this statement
"He said Pentax has adopted Ricoh’s strategy of maintaining Firmware Updates for products in the catalog as a customer-binding practice that costs little to do."

I appreciate such commitment to prior sales from a company.
Yeah, me too. I think he said they're targeting ongoing updates twice a year to include discontinued models.

There was a bit of discussion of the culture issues merging the two engineering groups. I didn't say it, but I note TAv on the Ricoh GR Mode dial. In response to a question about marketing to GenX, GenY and Millenials he spoke briefly about working with Eye-Fi engineers to make use of their card easier (as exists on Q10) once the links are set up. I asked about the native WiFi in the GR hoping he would volunteer something, and that went nowhere. I think he responded, "Yes. If does."
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