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09-18-2013, 08:32 AM   #2656
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QuoteOriginally posted by rawr Quote
Maybe if Ricoh are so scrooge-like, someone should start a new hybrid K-mount camera (or K-mount full-frame) as a Kickstarter project
I don't think they are scrooge-like but the BTO idea is premised on Ricoh throwing hundreds of millions into the photography business, which doesn't average a very good return, in just two years - in addition to the original cost of buying Pentax. You can't have half a BTO operation; it's all or nothing. How likely is this, really? I just don't see any evidence that anything of the kind is happening. Do you?

09-18-2013, 08:54 AM   #2657
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QuoteOriginally posted by mecrox Quote
Do you?
Nope. I see no evidence at all of any real Ricoh secrets or plans emerging in this whole discussion.
09-18-2013, 09:08 AM   #2658
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QuoteOriginally posted by mecrox Quote
I don't think they are scrooge-like but the BTO idea is premised on Ricoh throwing hundreds of millions into the photography business, which doesn't average a very good return, in just two years - in addition to the original cost of buying Pentax. You can't have half a BTO operation; it's all or nothing. How likely is this, really? I just don't see any evidence that anything of the kind is happening. Do you?
QuoteOriginally posted by rawr Quote
Nope. I see no evidence at all of any real Ricoh secrets or plans emerging in this whole discussion.
Ricoh's time horizon is measured in the intermediate term, which is 5-7 years. Our time horizon is measured in the next 5-7 weeks.

BTO and the associated capital investment to bring it to fruition may well become a manufacturing hallmark for Ricoh over the intermediate term. We can infer that Ricoh might impress upon the Digital Camera Division some of its broad corporate culture. It has been written on this Forum that Ricoh gradually and continually improves working designs, makes them durable and dependable, doesn't change them much exrternally and quite simply and quietly delivers dependable output. To my eye we are seeing some of that culture in cameras now; Firmware updates, K500 / K50 incremental improvement, DA Ltd. incremental imrovement, Flashes incremental improvement, Q7 incremental improvement . . . .

Over the next 5-7 weeks, unless Ricoh suddenly starts planting rumors, we won't know what is coming until it is here.
09-18-2013, 09:13 AM   #2659
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QuoteOriginally posted by mecrox Quote
I don't think BTO does, at least with cameras. Of the things on your list, the only thing which is sensibly customizable is the colour. Everything else can be covered by instead by purchasing cameras A or C in the range rather than camera B. A touch screen (or not) is integral to the camera's operating system and you really don't want to mess with that. WR is an important premium selling point, especially for Pentax. Breaking it up into customizable parts devalues that and may well mean that it is harder to upsell customers to your better, higher-priced products (K500 -> K50, etc.). As for sensors, the only thing to customize really is AA filter or not. A bigger sensor means a different model of camera with different electronics inside it.

Think what setting up a production facility like this would cost. Then add on the cost of huge, highly advertised front-end websites. You could probably also wave goodbye to a chunk of B&M business too, since some stores would consider an in-house BTO operation most unwelcome competition.

Ricoh bought Pentax for $125 million or so. It looks as if the product pipeline was empty so add on the same again for R&D and generally getting the outfit going again. Now throw a few hundred million or so for a completely new factory, distribution system, complete redesign of all products to allow parts to be modular and so capable of BTO assembly, and then add the front-end BTO operation. Has anyone so far seen any indication that Ricoh is prepared to spend a tenth of such a sum on Pentax? It would make perfect sense to do many of these things behind the scenes, in the sense of investing in modern design, assembly and distribution systems but to make it BTO for the customer is a vastly different and much more costly thing. Pentax is a very, very small outfit. They need a few products selling in the shops. They need a few people who know who they are. Walk before you can run.
BTO is an increasing factor in new cars. If the tech is mature then you have no upsell anyway. It's mostly just a replacement market which then becomes about driving down operating costs, the biggest of which are inventory and distribution. Apple's own website is almost all BTO and has almost no inventory. Other companies are doing the same. Ironically, smaller outfits are those most likely to be in a position to set up BTO which is how I think Pentax got it going in the first place.

Don't forget, the whole GXR concept was basically a BTO. I am just not sure you set up a whole BTO system including UPS delivery only for the option of pretty colours.

09-18-2013, 09:25 AM   #2660
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
Ricoh's time horizon is measured in the intermediate term, which is 5-7 years. Our time horizon is measured in the next 5-7 weeks.

BTO and the associated capital investment to bring it to fruition may well become a manufacturing hallmark for Ricoh over the intermediate term. We can infer that Ricoh might impress upon the Digital Camera Division some of its broad corporate culture. It has been written on this Forum that Ricoh gradually and continually improves working designs, makes them durable and dependable, doesn't change them much exrternally and quite simply and quietly delivers dependable output. To my eye we are seeing some of that culture in cameras now; Firmware updates, K500 / K50 incremental improvement, DA Ltd. incremental imrovement, Flashes incremental improvement, Q7 incremental improvement . . . .

Over the next 5-7 weeks, unless Ricoh suddenly starts planting rumors, we won't know what is coming until it is here.
The disadvantage of that approach is that impatient users or those with special needs will get frustrated and either moan a lot or be forced to switch brands. Various opportunities will be missed, and some of them may be important.

The advantage of that approach, if pursued relentlessly over several years, is that confidence will be achieved and sustained and the end products after lots of steady improvements should be very good indeed.

I've been using Pentax (and only Pentax) SLRs for about 46 years. I am currently impatient, and have requirements that are very important to me. But I'll probably give them a year or so before switching, and in the meantime try to squeeze the last bits from what there is.
09-18-2013, 10:11 AM   #2661
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
I am just not sure you set up a whole BTO system including UPS delivery only for the option of pretty colours.
You are correct.
You set it up for the product exposure the pretty colours will bring.
09-18-2013, 10:25 AM   #2662
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I wonder how many Apple computers are pre-built vs. BTO?
09-18-2013, 10:37 AM   #2663
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Does it matter? With a computer, you just fit one component or another into the appropriate slot. Different capacity HDDs? Yep, standard sizes, same cable. Different video boards? Put one in the PCI-E slot. Different processor? You only need a compatible mainboard/socket, put it in, put a cooler on top and that's all. And the case is large enough to support this (some are even monstrously large).
With a camera, you can't start connecting everything via slots, PC-style; unless you want a medium-format sized APS-C camera.

09-18-2013, 10:46 AM   #2664
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QuoteOriginally posted by ak_kiwi Quote
You are correct.
You set it up for the product exposure the pretty colours will bring.
I agree. Nevertheless making the customer wait for the product, with the possibility of rejection and return, indicates a high risk. A risk that may be a prelude to a more comprehensive offering.

Does Pentax keep a run of each colour in stock for each of the body panels? or do they form on demand?

It seems like a lot of investment and risk just for exposure based only on a colour choice.

If you look at a DSLR the rear body panel and its interface with he rear LCD suggests that colour customization is done before all major components are installed. the camera is still hand-assembled using a SBS methodology, but it's the colour choice + QC testing I would think is the hang-up in cost (and time). I don't see how these panels are just snapped on externally, especially when it comes to securing, for example, the prism/flash protrusion.

Anyway, I am just speculating that BTO may be another avenue for a small player to be different. If you are already locked out of the big box distribution network, this is another way to go. It's just.....intriguing.
09-18-2013, 10:50 AM   #2665
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I wouldn't wait a day just to be able to pay more for a camera with an ugly cover instead of a top LCD
09-18-2013, 11:17 AM   #2666
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
I am just not sure you set up a whole BTO system including UPS delivery only for the option of pretty colours.
I saw a feature on television about an Amazon fulfillment warehouse that employs fewer than 100 people. The secret is a series of small moving robots that roll under and lift entire racks of bins and move them to the stock pickers who fill and box the orders, rather than having several hundreds of people driving carts around a building the size of several football fields picking stock. Same thing happens at product receiving docks - robots bring the racks with empty bins to the dock, where they are stocked (in any order - doesn't matter which empty bin is filled as long as the computer knows - that is called Chaos Warehousing).

This is a breakthrough idea that requires capital and massive computing power but over the life of the allocated capital saves considerable money. We can't possibly know whether Ricoh has created some novel new assembly idea made possible by technology and the application of capital that Pentax just never had before.
09-18-2013, 11:24 AM   #2667
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
BTO is an increasing factor in new cars. If the tech is mature then you have no upsell anyway. It's mostly just a replacement market which then becomes about driving down operating costs, the biggest of which are inventory and distribution. Apple's own website is almost all BTO and has almost no inventory. Other companies are doing the same. Ironically, smaller outfits are those most likely to be in a position to set up BTO which is how I think Pentax got it going in the first place.

Don't forget, the whole GXR concept was basically a BTO. I am just not sure you set up a whole BTO system including UPS delivery only for the option of pretty colours.
Of course you have upsell. You want your customers to move up to the more expensive formats and, above all, you want them to invest in your more expensive lenses which is where the real money lies anyway. This is one of the aspects of BTO which doesn't add up if you are in the camera biz. You're investing big money in the least profitable part of your whole chain if you are making DSLRs - the camera body. OTOH, you can't do BTO for lenses in the sense that there is nothing to customize. In addition, as others have pointed out, the way cameras are designed at present makes BTO pretty difficult. It's not at all a matter of dropping components into a common motherboard using standard connectors and the like - just look at one of those transparent DSLR pics; the internal electronics are completely byzantine. And, so far as I can see, the Milbeaut processors which Pentax currently uses are tuned for specific sensors or at least parameters, so at the moment you cannot use a common CPU.

I can see that BTO might be a long-term aspiration. But first, a huge amount would have to change about the camera itself and the way it works internally. And, second, an awful lot of money would be required. After that, you have the problem of enabling the customer to handle a unit before buying, especially an expensive lens. If you are a behemoth it's simple: you open a chain of shops. If you are a minnow, well it's a mighty big headache. Would you drop five or ten large on high-end camera equipment and fine lenses from a factory in the Far East without first being able to handle anything?

Just In Time is one thing; BTO is another.
09-18-2013, 11:25 AM   #2668
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QuoteOriginally posted by johnmflores Quote
I wonder how many Apple computers are pre-built vs. BTO?
I think the substantial majority of their sales are from pre-built machines that are in store inventories plus a very few popular BTO combinations that were pre-built just to have on hand.
09-18-2013, 02:30 PM   #2669
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I'm guessing :-) 20MP, Pentax in front, Ricoh at the back. What do you think?
09-18-2013, 03:11 PM   #2670
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I've been suggesting for quite some time that Pentax could possibly extend the GXR format to a modular system with interchangeable components across formats. 645D MK2 might well be a kind of oversized GXR but where the sensor was not attached to a lens module. Viewfinders, sensor backs, grips etc could be so modular as to allow construction of a MF, FF or possibly even a APS-C machine although I think it more likely a modular MF system where a FF cropping mode would be implemented.
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