By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Fujifilm has set its sights on double-digit market share in the digital still camera market and on driving new camera owners to make prints of their digital images, including those taken with the increasingly ubiquitous camera phone.
Executives overseeing the company's digital still camera, printing and camera phone initiatives, sketched out a vision of a “total solution” that could blanket a consumer at every turn and embed the company and its retail partners in everything from cellular handsets to Microsoft's XP operating system.
According to the research firm IDC, Fujifilm ranked sixth in overall digital cameras shipped in 2004 with 8 percent of the market. The company has targeted a double-digit market share in the U.S. market for 2005, with a new series of cameras to appeal to repeat buyers but without a consumer-priced digital SLR.
“We hoped to have a d-SLR in 2005, but we didn't want to rush something into the market,” said David Troy, digital cameras product manager. While unable to pinpoint a specific intro date, Troy noted that the product would likely be aimed at the $899 segment targeted by Canon and Nikon with their recent introductions.
Troy said that the digital camera has “definitely crested to the top of the hill” in terms of its market growth, though the next several years will still enjoy robust gains. “We're focusing on other digital opportunities, flash memory, accessories and printing, which are all high growth areas.”
Troy pointed to the company's recently introduced portable camera-phone printer, the MP70, as the types of accessories the company would pursue in 2006.
On the printing front, the window is closing for retail outlets to lure digital camera owners and make big gains in printing share, said Walter Haug, marketing VP. “By 2007, retailers will have their customers locked in and there won't be an opportunity for big growth in share.”
The early winners in the digital printing contest — mass merchants and drug stores — have succeeded in part because of early investment and aggressive advertising, Haug said.
He also noted that the company was no longer concerned with whether consumers will make prints from their digital cameras, but where they will make prints. “The hurdle is not getting people to print all their digital photos but getting new camera owners to print,” Haug said.
Fujifilm is also expanding its lineup of kiosks to appeal to retailers that don't have the floor space, or capital, for a full-blown Frontier digital mini lab.
“It's too much of a stretch to speak of 'photo ATMs' but we are pursuing a lot of non-traditional outlets with a faster kiosk,” Haug said. More can be done at the point-of-sale to drive the printing message home, Haug said.
“We conducted a survey of digital camera owners who printed and many said that they were 'self taught,' which means we need to do a better job explaining it to them,” he said.
To drive more printing, the company is expanding its Get the Picture Online photo service, which drives online customers print orders back to retail stores. The service is courting not just camera owners but camera phone owners thanks to several carrier partnerships, including ones with Sprint and Cingular. According to John Prendergast, strategic business development VP, integrating the service into the handset, so camera phone users can locate and send files to local retailers, will be a major focus for the company this year.
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