How Long Until WE Get Tail Fins?

dsc_0625Car drivers in the 1950’s were lucky bastards. They got to buy a new car every year.

If they were buying a Chevy in 1957 they got vertical tail fins:


If they bought a Chevy in 1958 they got flatter tail fins:


If they bought one in 1959 they got swooping tail fins:


All different fins, but a common theme ran through the business: Chevrolet made a cosmetic change every single year and sold three cars where one would have done. The ’59 Chevy ran no better than the ’57, but the customers ran out to give more money to the GM agency based on the shape of the metal.

Camera makers are missing out by not making deliberate yearly changes to the cosmetics of their cameras. Changes that need not be rooted in better performance or greater value – changes in pure external form. They need to ring in trends in aesthetics too – paint jobs, grip covers, styling of trim – and these should not be essential to the operation of the cameras – they should be purely fashion. And they should be promoted ruthlessly in all fashion media.

This means that people will be impelled to seek a yearly changeover. Old cameras will be seen as low-status and new ones will raise the public profile of the purchaser. And not for the elite – the camera snobs. Go for the mass-market. GM made a damn sight more money from three years of Chevrolets than ever they made on three years of Cadillacs. Fins notwithstanding.

Now we need a Fisher Body yearly model competition for camera body designers. Offer big prizes and the geeks will come.




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