Join Date: August 19, 2004
Colt is Colt.
Colt has multiple ownership, is located in a gun-unfriendly state, has a union presence to deal with in everyday operations, is actually TWO companies, and is a shadow of its former self.
Colt produces a limited number of product lines that are not marketed worldwide to the average citizen, as a camera is. Most of Colt's products are not even allowed to be owned by the average citizen in much of the world beyond our borders.
Comparing a gunmaker to a camera maker is invalid right off the bat.
Further comparisons to Ruger, Smith & Wesson, and other major names like Remington, "Winchester", Browning, and so on are also irrelevant.
Ruger started off with innovation and has remained innovative & unhampered by top-heavy management with extreme arrogance & resistance to changes in the market (as Colt had prior to the crash in the 90s). Ruger has never endured wartime booms & post-war busts, as the older names like Colt did.
Smith & Wesson didn't have the illustrious & very market savvy Sam Colt as its founder, but did produce marketable products initially that did well enough to keep them going until they developed the great M&P DA revolver action a hundred years ago that remained viable much longer (till today, in fact) than Colt's roughly comparable-in-age V-Springs that were not as durable & obsoleted themselves model-by-model until they were simply no longer viable by 2000.
S&W took over the DA revolver market steadily after WWII, and steadily left Colt in the dust.
Ruger was always technologically ahead of Colt in DAs, S&W has been able to adapt their basic design well enough with slight changes here & there along with better heat treatment & advances in alternative technology to still be a leader in the field today with a basic design that's well over a hundred years old.
Colt's V-Springs were not as durable, and did not adapt well to alternative technologies.
The public did not accept Colt's more recent MKIII & MKV DA revolvers in sufficiently large volume to keep them in production.
During the 1990s Colt was forced to reduce its work force substantially, it wasn't just the products that were let go.
Colt has been operating on a shoestring ever since, and has been making steady progress, but still is a relatively small outfit with limited operating capital & limited manufacturing resources. They offer a line of 1911s, a limited number of Peacemakers each year, and those are backed up & hard to find on gunshop shelves.
They can't keep up with parts for their own handguns on occasion & swap out of model-specs when they can't here & there.
They list parts for sale on their website that they don't have.
The "civilian" side of Colt has been for sale more than once during recent years, but there are legal entanglements over branding and intellectual properties & nobody has been willing to pay what Colt wants.
Had it not been for the military contracts, Colt would either be gone completely or operating as a licensed name by a third party by now.
They've been able to pull off expensive CNC equipment upgrades, starting with roughly $5 mil 8 or 9 years ago, and more recently $4 to $6 mil (depending on who you talk to) for the handgun side.
Colt Mfg. still buys their "civilian" ARs from Colt Defense for sale to the public at large.
Meanwhile, sales have been so steady with Ruger and S&W that they've both been able to expand over the years, rather than contract as Colt has, with extensive product lines beyond their DA revolvers.
Both have remained financially stable.
Both have sufficient capital for R&D, production capacity to bring out new products, and the financial base to absorb failures. Colt has none of that.
Boiling it down, it's all Colt can do to stay afloat with essentially two "ancient" handguns and a 60-year-old rifle.
For whatever reason, new Colt handgun designs have not been well-received in general, and older handgun designs like the Python are not do-able for a company with little money to gamble with and limited production capability to try to market in a market that wants small plastic autoloaders.
No other American gunmaker has the same business history as Colt, no other American gunmaker has the same problems now as Colt.
Comparing Colt to Nikon is unrealistic on many levels.
Colt can't bring back a limited edition "goodwill" Python because of all the costs involved that I mentioned previously, and all the goodwill on the planet won't sell more existing guns that Colt can't keep up with now, won't bring buyers in droves to buy plastic autoloaders that Colt doesn't make, and won't enable Colt to re-introduce a Python as a profit-sustainable model.
In your Nikon example, goodwill MIGHT induce a buyer looking for a camera to either switch to Nikon or remain with Nikon because of warm fuzzies, but that'd only be possible because Nikon has a wide customer base around the world, a wide range of products from amateur to professional, a wide range of pricing structures, a good range of Nikon-produced (or at least branded) accessory support THAT'S READILY AVAILABLE EITHER LOCALLY OR ONLINE, continuing product development that keeps pace with technological advancement, AND the money to gamble on new products or absorb the loss on a sprint run of obsolete models to obtain that goodwill you refered to earlier.
Colt has none of that.
In many ways, Colt IS unique.