Dear Fuji: An APPeal from a confirmed X-System addict
An open letter to the Senior Vice President of Fujifilm Photo Imaging Europe GmbH
Dear Mr Clarke,
Firstly let me congratulate you on the remarkable success of the Fuji X product line. In your nearly six years at the top of the European operation you must have been delighted by the way in which product after product has been received by press and public alike.
Those of us who have come on the journey with you, from X100 to the X-Pro2, are generally happy customers—and why not? We enjoy exceptional products that are clearly designed by photographers for photographers and that are improved time and time again by the release of firmware upgrades that actually make the cameras we own more capable and more usable over time.
Result, generally, goodness. However, I am sure that you would welcome suggestions that would help you ensure that Fuji X products are even more valued by their owners. I have in mind one suggestion in particular that would help Fujifilm to offer a better, more complete customer experience to your users and to differentiate still further from your competition.
Let me explain.
I currently have an X-Pro1, X-T1 and X100T. I will shortly, deliveries permitting, also have an X-Pro2. These cameras have many user-configurable settings in common—they undoubtedly share a high proportion of core firmware code between them. Now, every time I get a new camera from you at the moment I sit with one of my current bodies balanced on my knee and transfer the bulk of those common settings one by one, laboriously, by hand, so that when I am out and about I know, within reason, that the camera I am using will behave and operate in more or less the same way as the one at home and will hence be familiar to me.
In the world of enterprise software there are tools such as "Configsnapshot" that can be used to check that, for example, Dev and Test and Prod environments are all configured identically and can be relied upon to behave in the same way in a given situation. This is of course a big help in bug trapping and resolution but above all it saves time and effort that would otherwise be expended in keeping everything in step.
My suggestion is that Fuji produces an app (or indeed amends one of the existing ones—we all know that they could be improved) that would allow a Fuji photographer such as myself to see and control all of my common settings across all mycameras via a single, multi-platform (Android, iOS, Win) application, allowing us to spot (or have our attention drawn to) any inconsistencies immediately and even remotely alter those settings from app to have them all the same.
With the WiFi enablement of your X bodies this could even be done without cables. The same facility could also be used to synchronise the on-board clocks which would be a boon for geotagging. Thus, I could collect my new X-Pro2, connect it to my app via wifi and have it 80% configured to my preferences in a moment.
But why stop there? This is the 21st Century. We are living in a world in which the Internet of Things ("IoT") is a thing. Interconnectedness and state-awareness are a reality. And what is a camera if not a thing—and certainly one that is more worthy of connection to the Internet than my ’fridge.
So let's take things a step further. Fujifilm itself could even store my settings for me. You could offer the facility to store my settings on a cloud server for secure access from anywhere at any time. This configuration information could even be pre-loaded upon a customer's new camera by the dealer or by Fuji themselves, allowing a level of personalisation that no other manufacturer is offering. This would be useful for new cameras and also for the provision of loan cameras. I am sure that I would not need to explain to you the benefit to Fujifilm of having access to this data either.
You could use analytics to drive a deeper insight for your designers of what functionality is used by whom, when. You could gain an understanding of favourite configurations, of preferred customisations and use in order to drive in turn your R&D. This will allow you too make even more cameras that are even better tailored to the needs of your customers, who in turn will be more loyal, and will buy more.
Mr Clarke, I believe an application such as I describe would fit in with the Fuji ethos of "customer first" and the corporate application of the Kaizen philosophy and be of significant benefit to anyone with two or more Fuji X bodies. In particular I think it would be attractive to professionals—such as wedding photographers and those covering sports—who depend upon consistent handling from one body to another.
I hope that you will now give my app suggestion some serious consideration. I am as I said at the outset, a committed and happy Fuji X photographer who has the continued success of the brand and the product line in mind. That is enlightened self-interest, of course - better feedback means better targeted R&D which in turn means better equipment for me to use.
Please understand, however, that although happy, I am like every member of your customer base not automatically and irrevocably loyal per se. Fujifim is undoubtedly in a good place - you are getting it right in terms of product, optics and service. Please keep it that way. A camera is a light-tight box for taking pictures, but a camera system is far more than that - it is simultaneously both an ecosystem and a channel for thought, vision and the realisation of images and it is apps such as the one that I am suggesting that makes the overall user experience just that little bit more compelling, raising Fuji above the rest.
Thank you kindly for your attention. I look forward to your response.