Canon Expects a Massive Drop in Sales by the End of 2020

Canon Expects a Massive Drop in Sales by the End of 2020

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. 

If you have any thoughts, be sure to leave a comment below.

Andy Day's picture

Andy Day is a British photographer and writer living in France. He began photographing parkour in 2003 and has been doing weird things in the city and elsewhere ever since. He's addicted to climbing and owns a fairly useless dog. He has an MA in Sociology & Photography which often makes him ponder what all of this really means.

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Oh well.

Sony also got out of manufacturing CCD imaging sensors. Focusing on CMOS sensors and their technology in CMOS will give Sony another edge against Canon. CCD fabs are dedicated to making one thing, CCD sensors. By utilizing CMOS technology, Sony has a less expensive fab which is much more versatile in also manufacturing other CMOS devices.

Sony's CMOS image sensors are that good.

CCD's are better. As is the Foveon

Yes, I know Foveon very well. I was a sales rep that sold Foveon sensors for many years, until Sigma Photo bought Foveon. I think I still have data sheets on the F7, F19, F14 sensors?

Here is a nugget for you. Since the patents on Foveon technogy have run out, one of the original sensor designers is building sensors with stacked photodiodes! I happen to be working with them

Any chance of a second nugget please Kevin ? I know a Sigma full frame Foveon is in the works, so are you saying another company is also releasing a Foveon model ? Will either the Sigma or another model have a reasonable video function ? :)

Sigma owns the rights to the Foveon name. The new company at this point is only offering a stacked photodiode linear array. An area scan sensor will be out maybe next year.

This company only designs and builds digital CMOS imaging sensors, not cameras.

It would be great if a consumer manufacturer of cameras would pick up these sensors and build caneras though!

Know any one? I would be happy to talk to them!

The first Foveon sensors, such as the F7, were not very good. They had a lot of noise in the images. They were slow and Rolling Shutter, not real good for video.

Plus Sigma did a crummy job of integrating the sensors on to their cameras. Many left the factory with dust on the cover glass.

As far as I know, Sigma has not changed from Rolling Shutter to Global Shutter. It can be done with the Foveon sensor, but adds a lot of electronics to the sensor.

By this clearly ignorant comment, I will assume you have no clue Canon has a diverse business, not just in the camera market.

What's left behind? My Mark 4 still gets me the images I need. Other than that it's just radio triggers and lights and a good model. Unless you're talking about Sony robot cameras that find the persons eye or your dogs eye and takes the pic and edits it for you while you relax on the couch. But that doesn't keep me from creating shots or making money so yeah.

Maybe you're talking about video. I don't try and take pics with my GH5 or BMPCC 6K and I don't bother recording video with the mark 4 so all works out.

I don't think this really means anything. The percentage of Canon's revenue that comes from consumer imaging is in the single digits, if I recall correctly. That includes consumer printers and scanners, as well as the entire camera line from Powershot through 1DX.

Canon makes its money from office machines and other industrial stuff. Just like Fuji makes about 95% of its revenue from cosmetics. Fuji would have gone out of business years ago just selling cameras.

At worst, this may result in fewer bodies from Canon, which is something many Canon shooters wouldn't see as a bad thing at all so they wouldn't have to keep dealing with Canon's artificial product segmentation.

We'll always have multiple interchangeable lens camera systems to choose from. None of the healthy "camera" companies are actually camera companies. They all have other lines of business that dwarf their camera sales. Sony is another great example.

Aww. You ruined the premature celebrations of Sony fanbois, still positive that they will take over the world. When, in reality, Canon has far deeper pockets than Sony and is not in the slightest bit worried about being pushed out of the camera space.

2018 total revenue for Canon was 35.963 billion, globally. Sony 2018 total revenue was 78.14 billion, globally. Not sure the equates to Canon having deeper pockets. Not a fan boy nor trying to start an argument....just saying.

Go back and look at the profitability not the revenue. Economics 101. How much money do you have is important. How much passes through your hands? Not so much.


I'm just hoping that they cancel their EOS-M series so that I can pick up a cheap webcam.

when mfr take a hit to their wallet, then they make changes.

For years Canon said their real competition was Sony .. they just sat and watched Sony Grow .. WTF !!

No it won't because before digital all of these companies had robust businesses selling compacts on the low end. That's gone now, as is a good percentage of the professional photography jobs that existed back then. We're heading into uncharted territory at this point.

Well said. The day of digital is coming to an end.

Is this happening BEFORE or AFTER Nikon fills out it's Z-mount lineup? Because I'm going to be sooooo annoyed if they don't get around to completing it. :(

Sony, Canon, and Nikon are diversified manufacturers that change their product lines in response to the market. Remember a few years back when Sony was into personal computers?

Worry about Nikon. By stock market value, they are only about 1/6 as large as Canon, so they have less resources to play around with.

I'm guessing that Nikon ends up the new Pentax with Pentax just dying or getting bought out by some Chinese company that decides to re-release the K-1000 except it's made of plastic and instead of film, it uses this this revolutionary idea where you put fake cartridges of "digital film" in the camera...

I hold out hope (stupidly) that they'll release a 50+ MP mirrorless camera, with IBIS, with top of the line autofocus, real 4k recording, and a joystick. I mean, it seems simple enough. Alas.

I care because without competition, there's little incentive for innovation.

No it hasn't. Canon and Nikon pretty much fell into a three decade lull where they had enough domination of the market that they were comfortable with just the pretense of competition. Sony was not serious competition until only recently due to their lack of market share so neither Canon or Nikon felt the need to respond until it was too late. It's the same story have has happened to technology companies at the top of their industry over and over again throughout the course of history. Companies get to the top through hard work and innovation. Then they get lazy and complacent.

Like Nokia responded late to android. Canon gear are looking very heavy where as Sony looks sleek contemporary.

For Sony's sleek and contemporary look, I found it uncomfortable to use. Canon is bulkier, but I think that they have better ergonomics which is one of those things that matters a lot when you're holding a camera all the time. Sony has better technology, but I wish they would release a slightly larger line of cameras for people who aren't necessarily looking for compactness.

Yep! We need to go back to hand building cars and....wait! There's cars out there that are hand built and they cost well north of $100,000. ;-)

For those that want to see Canon fail, keep in mind that without other companies, the camera manufacturer that you like has less of an incentive to innovate or release updates as often. Competition is good. Other companies aren't hurting you. What I shoot doesn't affect you. I currently shoot Canon, but I'm starting to look elsewhere.

Don't understand why any photographer would like to see Canon or any camera company fail.

The fun is coming to an end. No matter to me as I'm back in the darkroom with my film and scanner, best of both worlds. No more buying computers, software, or the latest and greatest. My resources now are spent for travel. My B&W film cost (doing it myself) about 50 cents a roll for color slide/positive film it's about $10.00 a roll, still costly, but coming down. As for C41 it's about $3.85 a roll on sale, and $3.75 for processing. So B&W wins for now, and I have enough cameras both digital and film, as well as 15 lenses, more than enough to last me the rest of my life, not to mention two 27 inch IMacs, two PC's, 2 Laptops. Studio lighting, and more. I'm good for 15 more years or longer.

Have fun

10 year back I switched to sony. Even now when canon launched 90D I knew IBS 4k 24p slow Mo will not be there. The best thing has happened is Nikon D750 Inbuilt flash, better dynamic range, double card slot, kit lens is 120 mm compare to canon 105 mm. Canon has nothing to offer till next 5 years.

This comment WREAKS of trolling, so much so it stinks the whole place up.

Like @Mike Dixon put it, regardless of the mistakes Canon is making, or their financial outlook, they are required to stay around in order to keep competition healthy and the competitors on their toes, and give them incentive to innovate.

Just like Canon actually NEEDS companies like Sony, Panasonic, Fuji, to push the boundaries, as it'll force their hand to come up with innovations to compete.

Your ignorant hatred and misinformed stance on Sony is all too clear.

And the exploding shutter doesn't happen to ALL Sony's, but in fact a small fraction of the units sold to market.

BTW, it happens to all camera brands, NOT just Sony.

Nice try.

I think saying he hates Sony is still an understatement...

Canon used to be the they are just shit.

I see..a Canon user...I'm sorry for your loss...

August 2, 2019; Sony Announces Dramatic Drop in Forecasted Sales:

In other words, the market is saturated on the top and the low end is losing to smartphones. As long as companies are satisfied having divisions making profits in the millions and not billions to meet market expectations of exponential growth we will be fine!

I wonder if Sony's Nikon division will be facing the same market situation?

Canon has said this more than once. I suspect they are laying justification for getting out of the bottom end of the camera market entirely. No more Rebels. I expect their camera offering will be directed toward "digital camera enthusiasts" and professionals.

I suspect that by the end of 2022, their lowest camera offering will be the RP with the R and maybe two more levels of mirrorless cameras above that.