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Canon Focuses On Growing Digital SLR Market

10/23/2003 09:48:00 AM Eastern

Tokyo - After years of decline, Canon is attempting to inject life into the SLR camera market by moving the segment more firmly to digital, and bringing lower priced digital SLR cameras, like the recently introduced EOS Digital Rebel, to market at consumer price points.

Canon’s deputy group executive, photo products, Ted Ando, discussed his company’s strategy at a meeting, here.

While the market for compact digital cameras has been booming, eclipsing film camera sales this year in North America, the market for higher-end SLR cameras was flagging until the recent introduction of digital SLRs from a variety of manufacturers, including Nikon, Canon, Olympus and Fujifilm.

But film still dominates the SLR segment. Last year approximately six percent of all SLRs sold in America were digital. Ando said he expected that number to grow to 27 percent in 2003.

'We are constantly revising our forecasts upward in this category, it is taking off,' Ando said.

The introduction of the Digital Rebel, at a suggested retail price of $999, is aimed at moving higher end compact digital camera users, consumers who might have bought Canon’s Powershot G3 for instance, into the digital SLR category, where there is greater profit potential in selling interchangeable lenses, larger memory cards and other accessories.

According to Ando, the company has segmented the digital camera market into three categories: the high-end professional, the advanced amateur and the mainstream market. The new Digital Rebel could appeal to both the mainstream and the advanced amateur market, Ando said.

Canon’s success in the mainstream, compact digital camera market has risen sharply this year. The company expects to have the No. 1 market share in both units and dollars in 2003, supplanting long reigning Sony as the market champ.

Ando also noted that the company is attempting to foster a 'digital environment,' removing the PC from the digital photography experience. The company’s support for the open PictBridge direct printing standard and its own proprietary direct print functions on its printers and digital cameras are a part of this effort.

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