By Matthew Henry
SYDNEY: Canon is ready for a fight in the D-SLR (digital single lens reflex) camera market this year as consumer electronics brands Sony and Panasonic prepare to muscle their way into the burgeoning category with the launch their debut models.
As market leader, Canon believes the entry of its Japanese consumer electronics counterparts could boost D-SLR sales and stimulate competition in the electrical retail channel.
“I think if there is a fight, that is where most of the fight will occur. We’re expecting some good competition, so bring it on,” said Canon marketing manager, Stuart Poignand.
Sony will launch its Alpha D-SLR range later this year incroporataing the optical smarts acquired from failed camera manufacturer Konica Minolta, while Panasonic has partnered with Olympus to develop the Lumix DMC L1.
Both companies have not set release dates, but a Sony spokesperson recently confirmed a 2006 launch.
“All over the globe, D-SLR sales continue to grow as new consumers come into this market, including both previous compact digital users as well as analogue and 35mm SLR users,” Sony group manager – digital imaging, Yasunari Nishioka, recently told current.com.au.
“Sony took the opportunity to expand on its current strengths in compact digital imaging, and the decision was made to enter the D-SLR market given the significant advantage of acquiring technology and further expertise from Konica Minolta.”
Despite more competition, Canon projects it will increase its market share in the segment from 53 per cent to 55 per cent this year.
By Christmas this year, the D-SLR market is expected to surpass the peak market size attained by film SLR cameras in its heyday.
Film SLR camera sales have been steadily giving way to digital SLR since the film market peaked in November 2000, and Canon predicts D-SLR will be a $140 million category by the end of 2006. Lenses for D-SLR cameras alone will generate $75 million in sales this year.
“Digital SLRs are still growing and they have a long way to go. It will definitely be more than the size of the original film SLR market because of the faster upgrade cycle,” said Poignand.
Canon’s digital still cameras are currently sold through electrical retailers including Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi, but the brand has open distribution.
“Our digital SLR cameras are available to almost everyone, but we want to make our cameras available through places that are qualified to sell them – people commited to the category and commited to undertaking staff training,” said Poignand.