Well, I have direct sources and know more than I say and say what I think can be safely said. The only place where I said I don't know more details is from what is happening inside Hassy in Gothenburg – I only hear it from third parties who basically say it is a s*** show since Shenzen took over. Not sure the mood is better anytime soon after H got killed which will make a few people redundant. Guess the happiness of the long-standing former NYC crew is also not at a boiling point after they closed shop.There is an old saying as true today as it ever was: those who really do know Leica's plans aren't talking, and those who don't really know are engaged in idle speculation (or, in this case, fevered speculation about an S4 that will have the best optics in the history of photography, the best AF, the best video, the best design, etc, yet will be priced in a way that Leica has never priced its products). This is obviously important to you, so have at it. In the meantime, when and if it ever shows up in 2025, I will evaluate it just like any other camera system on the market at that time. I have owned 5 different camera systems from 4 manufacturers over the past 15 years. I have zero "loyalty" to any of them. I buy whatever works best for me.
BTW, do you know how I know Leica is a boutique camera manufacturer? First, they sell Leicas in Leica boutiques. Second, many/most of the people who buy them believe that the reason why other photographers don't buy them is because they can't afford them. Third, many/most of the buyers believe that there is something special about them because they are manufactured in Germany and not China, even though this is 2023 and not 1963.
I always argue based on reasoning and not just by being pre-conceived for one reason or another. I explain why I say things.
Leica produces benchmark optics because they can work in an integrated manner and because achieving a low price point is not the biggest design constraint. That is special, I am sorry. Every SL APO optic blows away other 35mm offerings in terms of optical quality except maybe some Otus lenses. The M lenses punch above their size class and are just gems. The quality and price point are an integral part of their brand proposition / promise and people buy into that. I pay 5k for a 35 1.4 because I know it has been hand checked multiple times, quality is a notch above other manufacturer's lenses and because the IQ is just amazing.
They have a standing optics team and don't outsource production to Japanese contract manufacturers. They can iterate far more often without incurring extra project costs – something necessary when you want to tightly integrate production and design to create the highest quality. It also allows them to produce exotic products just for the sake of it, ie a 75 1.25, for example. Sells rarely, ask any Leica store owner. But WHAT AN OPTIC!
P1 used contract manufacturing to design lenses, as well as Hassy. That's a big difference. The reason we don't have more tiltable XT lenses is that P1 doesn't want to pay Cambo their fee to adjust the other lenses to the new Helicoid they introduced with the 40HR. At Leica this would be solvable within the resources of the existing employees once capacity is free.
To say they are a boutique manufacturer – i.e. you label them in a negative way trying to insinuate something about luxurious pricing not befitting "real" phorography – because they sell in "boutiques", as you say, is a stunningly un-smart statement and is again judgemental and not rational. Firstly they don't sell in (fashion) boutiques, but mostly in what you'd call real stores which most of the time also have a gallery section attached. Leica is also rather mass-market at this stage, you can buy a Q in many places, for example. So it is not really that they sell fashion, are by appointment only and sell all day long gold-crusted cameras with embroidery and customizable engraving. They just sell high-quality products at a higher price point as the cost of manufacturing is also elevated. The haptics of Leica products are outstanding. The brand is also part of pop culture with many designers, artists, actors, and singers having a Leica. M6 is at the forefront of the analog resurgence. If anything, Leica is iconic.
Secondly, you always moan about their pricing in a really childish way, mentioning they are absurd, don't know what they do or whatever. Usually, only people that are unhappy with the pricing do this. Most often because they have some weird grudge or can't afford it because let's be honest if the price is not an issue their lenses are top-notch in all regards. If you don't care about the price, an APO35 M is a fantastic lens no matter how you spin it. And to say they are somehow irrational just defies reality given that Leica is arguably the most successful camera manufacturer after the big 35mm players from Japan and has been controlled and still is, in parts, by one of the most elite PE firms gracing Wallstreet, namely Blackstone. But of course, I am sorry I forgot, you know better!
It wouldn't come to my mind to moan about a Leica lens price because I know I get fantastic build quality, unmatched service, and fantastic IQ. I bought my first Noctilux around 2009 for 6k EUR. I sold it finally before the pandemic used for 9k. In the meantime, I replaced the hood for a few hundred because I wanted it to look like new. Leica effectively paid me to use the lens over 10 years, 300 EUR per year. So no loss and inflation fully covered. In that regard especially the M stuff is a good value preserve and a bit unique in the photo world. S lost value due to mismanagement of the platform, but they will come back.
Looking forward to your review of the S4 in 2025. Maybe you will jump ship from Hassy then, who knows!