Canon’s chairman and CEO Fujio Mitarai acknowledged in a recent interview that the company expects camera sales to drop from 10 million to 6 million a year by the end of 2020. Despite this dramatic fall, Mitarai is confident for the camera manufacturer's future.
Speaking to Japanese website Newswitch, Mitarai explains that Canon is undergoing a “structural reform and portfolio replacement” in order to respond to changing market conditions. The rise of the smartphone has had its impact, exacerbated by worsening trade relations between the US and China, and it's likely that the depreciation of the Euro and economic slow-downs in China and Europe have been contributing factors. However, while camera sales have dropped dramatically, Canon as a company is optimistic that its new avenues will deliver growth.
As Mitarai notes, consumer cameras may continue to contract as a market but the optical industry more broadly continues to expand. In addition, labor costs are being reduced dramatically due to the increased mechanization of production processes.
It’s not unusual for company bosses to remain outwardly optimistic when asked to respond to unsettling figures, but regardless of the impact on Canon’s margins, the company will almost certainly be keen to shift research and marketing resources away from its consumer cameras in order to maximize returns elsewhere.
As discussed earlier this year, this may have implications for the consumer camera industry in the longer term as budgets for developing new products will become increasingly slim. It remains to be seen how Canon will respond to Sony’s deep-pocketed determination to elbow its way towards market dominance through tactics that include incremental updates and much faster product cycles.
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