It started with Olympus at the end of May, and now Fujifilm has followed suit: it has announced that it will be axing about 20 cameras from its compact range, mostly at the bottom end of the scale.
Scaling back compact camera production, and in particular slashing the cameras that once-upon-a-time would have fulfilled the needs of the smartphone picture-takers, is a business move I've advocated for quite a while. The smartphone crowd have gone and won't be coming back until their iPhones or Galaxys no longer meet their photographic needs, if at all. Should they reach the point when a fixed aperture, bad zoom, and no control over shutter speed is frustrating them, they certainly won't be looking for a cheap, plasticy, garishingly coloured camera with a slow lens and horrible auto-focus.
The margins on these lower-end cameras are minimal and why would a serious camera company want to put their name to a camera like that, anyway? It hardly inspires confidence in their manufacturing abilities, nor in the benefits of having a stand-alone camera.
Instead, these manufacturers should be concentrating on the compact camera market that does still exist and needs fulfilling. The premium compacts are the obvious focus, but there's a bigger market out there than just those. People like my parents want a reasonable camera, but not one that's all-singing and all-dancing. People like my cousin and his wife want a camera that they can safely take sailing or snowboarding, but won't drown, freeze, or smash.
It seems to have taken a while, but it looks as if some manufacturers are beginning to re-focus their efforts. (Pentax doesn't appear to be subscribing to this new model, seeing as it announced the £80 Ephina yesterday, but that's okay.) Discerning who needs what from a camera, and providing these consumers with the products that they need can only be a good thing for photography.