Somerset, N.J. — Citing cut-throat competition and a difficulty in gaining traction with its brand, Kyocera has pulled its FineCam line of digital still cameras from the U.S. market and recently completed an overhaul of its optical division to focus on OEM technologies for digital still and camera phones.
Ben LeMarca, the group’s president, left the company last week to pursue other opportunities as have several product managers in the digital camera division.
In January, Kyocera ended its line of Kyocera Finecam-branded digital cameras and handed over distribution duties for its Contax-branded digital cameras to Tocad. Ed Fold, a Kyocera executive, joined Tocad as senior VP overseeing the new Contax line and other Tocad photo accessories.
According to Fold, Tocad will continue to distribute Contax-branded digital cameras in the U.S. market in the wake of Kyocera’s departure and expects the company to continue to offer new digital cameras under the Contax brand in North America.
“I haven’t seen the fall round-map, but I’m expecting new products,” Fold said.
The Kyocera reorganization was precipitated by the “significant challenges in the U.S. consumer marketplace,” LeMarca said. “The weak Kyocera brand awareness in the U.S. along with the necessary investments to build the Kyocera brand” collided with rapidly falling prices and shrinking margins, he added.
These factors “did not equate to a short term path to profitability, regardless of [our] market share growth,” LeMarca said.
“They made great products, but they are a manufacturing company, not a marketing company,” Fold said of his former employer. “They felt it would be easier to deal with one U.S. customer and the Contax brand plays in a smaller niche geared toward the pro-sumer. It doesn’t compete against the Canons and Sonys.”
Fold said that in addition to supplying the photo-specialty channel, Tocad would look to expand Contax cameras and a host of Tocad accessories into electronics channels.