The market will determine what manufacturers sell.....
Nope. Turns out we can't have both. Right now I can get a 280mm eff. zoom on a pocket camera *without* manual controls. What kind of choice is that? In fact, it used to be 35-350mm, which is even better. Now that's dead. Market determines product? No - I work in a large corporation, as do several friends. What dictates product is not very intelligent in most cases, it's *fashion* that's dictated by the fashion leaders, in the case of serious compact cameras, that's Dpreview and other photo forums.
hairyfrog is right
I sell cameras, and i guarantee you that not a single customer ive had has ever
heard of dpreview.com let alone other photo forums. The most amount of research someone is generally willing to do is search for a camera based on brand(good or bad) online and look for the best price for it, print it out and ask us in store to price match it, half the time it being an outdated camera they didn't know was discontinued/just wanted it because it was on sale/has the most MP(i know sad huh).
The vast majority just come in, give me a price range, and i show them 2-3 options and they pick the one that best suits them based on its features(speed/zoom/menu/ease of use to name a few)and their needs, no sales person bias, no prior research, no fashion concerns.
bottom line? "fashion leaders" don't sell cameras. I'm sorry, it just doesn't work that way.