Nikon President eyeing smartphone market

Nikon CoolPix

It is no secret that more and more pictures are being shot with a camera attached to a smartphone – something that has not escaped the eye of Makoto Kimura, President of Nikon. Point-and-shoot cameras were the rage for years, allowing smaller budget minded users a chance to easily take photos more like the professionals who pay thousands of dollars for their equipment, but sales have dropped about a quarter from the same time last year.

The number of people taking snapshots is exploding by use of smartphones that sold 750 million or so last year and are still growing,” Kimura said. “We’ve centralized our ideas around cameras but can change our approach to offer products to that bigger market.”

The demand for Nikon’s high-end cameras that retail for about US$6,000 may gain a 9-percent share and help compensate for the losses incurred by the shrinking Coolpix models that are selling for as little as US$55.00 online. Nikon believes this will work for a couple years, but they are working on new products that will be available in less than five years.

We want to create a product that will change the concept of cameras,” said Kimura. “It could be a non-camera consumer product. Rapid expansion of mobile devices is a change in business environment given to us,” Kimura said. “Our task going forward is to find an answer to that change.”

Nikon is also looking to the medical field to expand its product line, following Olympus, Canon and Sony’s path, but Kimura is well aware of the smartphone statistics and we can expect them to explore that path as well. He said they must find an answer to accommodate the change of people’s picture taking habits; perhaps they will make cameras that go into smartphones, partner with a manufacturer to offer their own brand of phone, or manufacturer their own. Nikon and their president are well aware of the problems facing them as smartphones continue to take sales away from the camera manufacturer.

When cellphones first introduced “camera-phones,” consumers would complain about the quality of the pictures. Being an avid photographer, I was the first one to comment that if you want to take nice pictures, get yourself a “real” camera and that the cellphone camera was a simple convenience, only used in an emergency or for a contact photo!

Like most people, I now use my smartphone camera as my point-and-shoot, and camera of choice. I still pull out the old DSLR for special occasions, such as weddings, but I take many more pictures with my Note 2, a fact that Nikon is finally taking seriously. It will be interesting to see how they respond – with a camera to integrate into smartphones or come out with their own smartphone. One thing is for sure, camera manufacturers cannot rely on Point-and-Shoot cameras to boost their future sales revenues.

Source : Bloomberg