I had much the sam thought last night when I read it. Thinking on it the market has dramatically changed, like so many markets in the last 15 years. The losers are always the same in these shifts. The middle men and high street shops. Large retailers/distrubutors who can hold inventory are delivering direct to the consumer. Amazon killed Barnes & Nobel who had in turn killed the Mon & Pop bookstore. Netflix killed the high street video rental.
And now shifts in the market driven by digital are killing brick and motar retailers and commercial labs. The market is now a shrinking number of small scale consumers who will be serviced by large direct-to-customers retailers. B&H is the model here. They are almost like an Amazon for photography.
We have B&W materials that are thinning out, (Kodak drops T-MAX 3200) but demand seems to be rounding off and Ilford (Harman really) and Fotokema seem to have been sucesssful in scaling operations to suit the new market. Harman is diversified and is looking for new markets for its technology. Film is part of a diversified portfolio.
Color will eventually go the same way. Demand will stabilize and those companies that can deliver at the smaller scale will do so. Part of that ecosystem is the Jobo CPP-3 and Champion introducing small scale processing packs, direct to folks like you & me, or small community type labs.
So here's the real question. Is this direct to small scale user market large enough to sustain the products required to service it at a price that keeps enough folks engaged? The real answer is we don't know. It might be, it might not. Champion and Jobo are betting that it is.
My guess is that it might just be, but the shakeout will be a very close run thing and a couple of missteps will kill the market. We will lose some more C-41 emulsions and will maybe have 2 E-6 emulsions at the end. I know my E-6 use will go up (from zero currently) if I can get decent E-6 processing materials. My C-41 use is only sustained because I can get the Digibase repackaged Fuji-Hunt chemistry. My film use and chemistry availabilty are linked. Is this typical - nobody really knows.
Where dr5 is right is in seeing doom in his market. I don't see a rosy future there. The market, as it was, is dying. The new film ecosystem will be much smaller and very different if it survives.