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. 

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55 Comments

vegatecgroup's picture

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

vegatecgroup's picture

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?

vegatecgroup's picture

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 ? :)

vegatecgroup's picture

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!

vegatecgroup's picture

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.

Stick a fork in it Canon.

Grant Watkins's picture

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

Well that's great I don't buy their fax machines or photocopiers though. Since they have been so half hearted about the DSLR market best if they just leave. I'm a canon guy myself and it gets the job done for me but they are being left behind and don't seem to be willing to do anything about it.

David Love's picture

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.

Innovation..you could still be using a box camera by that logic?

Lenzy Ruffin's picture

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.

Nicholas K's picture

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.

Gerald Bertram's picture

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.

Nicholas K's picture

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.

michaeljinphoto's picture

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.

EL PIC's picture

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

It's no big deal. Things'll just go back to the way they were before digital. Soccer moms and dads, weekend photographers and a lot of the folks who were more into the technology than photography will move to phones. I, for one, will be happy to see them — including a few of you ;-) — go.

michaeljinphoto's picture

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.

michaeljinphoto's picture

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.

michaeljinphoto's picture

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.

michaeljinphoto's picture

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

michaeljinphoto's picture

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.

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