by James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
Although Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF has changed the way shooters focus images, the common complaint about the camera company is that they’re simply too slow at keeping up with the fast pace of digital innovation. And now, CEO Fujio Mitarai admits it, but he fell short of promising a more innovative future. At least when it comes to cameras.
To read the trends of an era. Innovation is steadily advancing, and it has become difficult to put out products that are ahead of the competition, even if by just a little. This is now an era when latecomer manufacturers stand to gain. Compared with the past, even I feel mounting tensions. – Canon CEO Fujio Mitarai, interview with the Nikkei Times
The reason why I have to wonder if it’s going to be business as usual for Canon when it comes to cameras is that in the same interview, the Mitarai states that he believes it’s “time to look outside the camera box.” In the context of his interview with the Nikkei Times, Mitarai admits that cameras are only 30%, with over two-thirds of the corporation’s business are outside of the photographic realm with sales in office and industrial equipment, security cameras, and even healthcare.
Faced with the issue of a lack of innovation company wide, Mitarai says that he’s committing to spend 300-400 billion in acquisitions that will support the industries Canon is involved in. “Our primary management goal this year is to raise our antennas high toward cutting-edge technology,” Mitarai added. “It is on this point where we lag behind other companies. We will open up a research and development center in the U.S.’s Silicon Valley, where we will actively adopt new technology.”
Though stopping short of mentioning exactly of whether the company will boost its innovation in photography and cinematography, Mitarai’s comments, don’t shed much hope when taken in context. Then again, Mitarai’s strategy seems to take the blanket approach, and if that is the case, it could be that Canon will be putting some energy into catching up to other competitors like Sony and Panasonic.
That blanket approach keeps the company on a sound financial footing that will keep the corporate ground fertile for innovation. “I believe that, as a manufacturer, it is essential to always maintain a strong financial house,” Mitarai concluded, “creating conditions where you can invest in new things.”
Mitarai’s comments in the Nikkei interview are pretty vague, and that may be by design. Of course, when reading them, each of us will bring to it our own set of preconceived biases when it comes to Canon in general. Each reader has to decide if Mitarai’s plan is part of an overall corporate strategy and that cameras may at least be part of it, or read it as Canon going to look beyond their camera roots and focus on other areas of their business in the new year.
Frankly, it kind of reminds me of Apple CEO Tim Cook’s assurance that the professional market is important to them. Only worse. At least Cook is paying lip service with the promise of the Modular Mac. I think the latter is more likely and Canon camera development is going to be business as usual, and at best, any innovation will go to the professional cinema camera line first and then maybe trickle down to the consumer line years down the road.
Hat Tip – Peta Pixel