The internet makes peoples' attitudes and concerns around new product announcements transparent. I suppose these reactions have been going on for as long as product introductions have been going on; it's just that, outside of a few carefully controlled focus groups, we never heard them until lately.
Since yesterday I've read (well, scanned) a great big pile of speculations about the Micro Four-Thirds announcement, and—even more than usual—it runs the gamut from The Second Coming to The Sky Is Falling. What very few people are saying is that this isn't a camera or cameras yet—it's just a standard. It basically specifies a flange distance and a lensmount, as well as a few related technical parameters. But we don't know a lot more. Despite this, people (okay, me included, in a few aspects) are speculating wildly about a wide range of issues.
About the most intelligent speculation I've read is Dave Etchells' analysis. He assumes the viewfinders will be the EVF type (this includes "live view" on the viewing screen) and that AF will be the contrast-detect type, and he's probably right—at least for the near term. But even if he is, neither of those things are part of the standard, so they're not set in stone for future products. He also points out that Panasonic is likely to be the lead player in the new products when they do come along, since Panasonic has almost no DSLR bodies or lenses currently and thus has a much larger void to fill. He could well be right about that too.
Still, it's important to remember that: a) we don't know which company is really behind the standard, or if only one of them is really driving it; b) we don't know that they have in mind; c) we don't know what the target market is; d) we don't know what the target market's response will be; e) we don't know what the planned launch products are or what they will look like; f) implementation (design) details like viewfinders and AF aren't part of the standard, and while we can make some intelligent guesses, guesses is all they are; g) we don't know the effect of the new products on the old product lines; h) we don't know what the suitable uses of the coming products might be; i) we don't know what the products will be like to use or what image quality they will yield; and j) we don't know when the sun will explode and bring life on Earth to an end, rendering all speculations about Micro Four-Thirds moot.
And those are just a few of the things we don't know. So, my point is, why get all lathered now? Yes, it's exciting news; yes, Photokina will probably bring more news, and that's just around the corner now; and yes, I'll be watching with as much anticipation as anybody, if not a little more.
It can be fun to speculate and fantasize, but perhaps we ought to keep it firmly in mind that that's all we're doing.
P.S. An open suggestion to Olympus and Panasonic (yeah, right, like they'll be reading this): You really should decide on, and promote, a single abbreviation for "Micro Four-Thirds." I've already seen about nine different variants. One thing's for sure: if you leave it to evolve by consensus, the eventual accepted designation will be the ugliest of the available alternatives.
Featured Comment by Matthew Allen: "Not that anyone cares what I think but to me the most elegant abbreviation of Micro Four-Thirds would be M43. It harks back to the M42 mount which was itself an impressive piece of standardization and unlike MFT or other letters-only abbreviations it doesn't have multiple meanings. Of course then someone will think it's a 43mm mount but since Four Thirds is itself a bizarrely arcane expression of format size who cares if the new one makes even less sense?"