July 8, 2013
Nikon Looking To Diversify Product Lines Beyond Cameras
Enid Burns for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
While Kodachrome was a color film technology developed by Kodak, Paul Simon's song "Kodachrome" was about using the film in his Nikon camera. Like Kodak, which has struggled and had to reinvent itself, Nikon is feeling some of the same pressures to move beyond the camera and create new revenue potential for the company.
Speaking to the press at Nikon headquarters in Tokyo, President Makoto Kimura said the company has seen its sales decline along with the industry, Bloomberg News reported.
The company cited an IDC forecast stating that smartphone shipments are expected to grow 32.7 percent in 2013. The camera manufacturer recognizes that it can't compete in the point-and-shoot category due to the uptake and declining prices of smartphones.
"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 was quoted saying in the Bloomberg article. "We've centralized our ideas around cameras but can change our approach to offer products to that bigger market."
Nikon said it doesn't report quarterly, but called its Q1 earnings "fairly low" and prepared investors for earnings that will fall in line with, or even "a little short" of, expectations, Kimura said.
Earnings could fall short due to low interest in point-and-shoot models such as Nikon's Coolpix line, which has cameras for as low as $55, Bloomberg News said.
More advanced cameras with interchangeable lenses such as the Nikon D4-SLR, which retails for $6,000, still shows some demand in the professional photographer and enthusiast market. However, to see growth, Nikon is looking to other markets.
Nikon hinted that it would break into other areas with new goods. "We want to create a product that will change the concept of cameras," Kimura said, in the Bloomberg article. "It could be a non-camera consumer product."
No more details were given. Several news outlets including Bloomberg, Mashable and Hot Hardware speculate that the new product could be a smartphone. Other possibilities include a tablet or other consumer product. Nikon released the first Android-powered camera, though Samsung earned more notoriety for its Android-powered Galaxy Camera, Mashable said.
If the camera maker gets into smartphone and tablet manufacturing, it could create handsets and other devices with better cameras that would appeal to users who want to take better pictures with their phones. A tablet built by Nikon could have better photo-editing abilities.
While the camera maker has hinted at a Nikon product, it could also license or otherwise provide camera technology to existing smartphone and tablet manufacturers to put higher resolution cameras in smartphones.
Another area where Nikon plans to enter is medical devices. The company said it could expect revenue in that category within three years. Other manufacturers including Canon and Sony have either entered or expanded in the medical device market. Olympus already has a presence in the market from the development and manufacture of endoscopes. Bloomberg News said Olympus is the world's largest maker of such devices.