I think that something went wrong at Sigma..or rather..they have found themselves in a bit of a pickle. Pricing decisions are usually formed by the tension created between:
- Cost: production, shipping, marketing, maintenance etc.
- Market: an assessment of what they think it can command
- Profitability: the margin they need to break even and make money for the shareholders
- Strategy (somewhat derived from the market consideration): where they wish to go and position themselves and their longer term product development tactics
- The company's economics: i.e. can they sacrifice on the margin to improve on their strategic positioning, for example
This all translates into a range:
- What they NEED as a minimum price
- What they SHOULD get to maintain a targeted margin
- What they CAN price it at in the market
- What they WANT to position the unit at, in terms of "perceived" value
Given the total shock of the community and the earlier indications (e.g. it was never disputed and commented on, when it was suggested it's a unit for the "prosumer" market, that it was intended to be in the Canon 7D bracket etc. etc.), I find it indicated, that Sigma are "caught" and/or "confused" in terms of their ranges, as indicated above.
I personally do not subscribe to the notion suggested in some communities, that it's a marketing ploy to create buzz or somehow raise expectations by suggesting an initial high price at first, just to increase "perceived value" or give a sense of a "great deal" by then lowering it to a lesser - but still very high - price. Neither such strategies are likely to be successful. Dropping the price from 9.7K to 4.5K is likely going to create doubts about the longevity and support or the unit. It also eliminates the real pros, since they are less likely to have trust in any pro-service support that this bracket require. The actual "prosumers" are going to be more suspicious and may wonder if this model is a "dud" that Sigma will drop, because it's just not profitable enough..
Whether I'm completely off in my random speculations here or not, one thing I'm certain of: it never pays to create confusion in your market! And that is exactly what Sigma has done here...
All in all, Bob - I think that Sigma isn't clear internally about what they want to do with this camera. And that translates into radically contradicting messages all within a span of what...a week?
My personal guess: they WANTED to create a 2-2.5K camera with a new sensor that would really create a positive impact on the community/market. And they wanted to do so with "image quality"...details and colors... Then the hard truth hit them - this sucker is so much more expensive to produce than they projected and they realized that they HAD to increase the price dramatically. Then the marketing folks took over - they got a "great idea" to try and change the profile of this camera as one that is a viable and attractive alternative to the MF crowd. Then they saw the reaction and now they are backpedaling.
...who knows where it will end...