By Matthew Henry in Port Douglas

PORT DOUGLAS: Sony Australia plans to capture 10 per cent of the Australian digital single lens reflex (D-SLR) market within 12 months with its Alpha A100 model launched yesterday, and expects to achieve 20 per cent share in the long term.

The ambitious target will bring Sony into stiff competition this year with established D-SLR maker Canon, which aims to grow its market share in the category from 53 to 55 per cent in 2006.

Sales in the D-SLR market are expected to grow by 22 per cent this year, and new players like Sony and Panasonic are entering the market for the first time to capitalise on the rapid market expansion.

“We believe the D-SLR market is one we are entering at exactly the right time – the sunrise of D-SLR is now,” said Sony Australia deputy managing director, Carl Rose.

“We’re aiming for 10 per cent share, and 20 per cent in the longer term. D-SLR and Alpha are certainly both here to stay.”

Sony’s 10.2 megapixel Alpha A100, which starts at RRP $1,499 for just the camera body, is positioned as a mid-range model and will target photographic enthusiasts rather than the professional market, where Canon maintains strong loyalty.

“The D-SLR market is dominated by some major players with some good products, so we have to be realistic in the areas we are targeting. Where do we think our share will come from? Primarily we are targeting first time D-SLR users who we believe will come from both family and enthusiast segments,” said Cornish.

Cornish believes the A100 will also appeal to existing Konica Minolta owners, who have invested in lenses and accessories for Konica Minolta SLRs.

“The Alpha uses the same lens mount system as the traditional Konica Minolta SLRs, the Maxxum/Dynax lens mount, so there is a natural synergy as well as a cost saving involved for those customers. So we are expecting strong interest from this area.”

Sony has sold over 50 million compact digital still cameras worldwide in the 10 years since its first Mavica product was launched, but the company is now looking beyond the compact digital still camera (DSC) market where growth is likely to taper off.

“There have never been more cameras in Australia homes than there are today, Australians are buying digital still cameras at the rate of about one every 17 seconds.

“But this growth is not going to continue as fast in the compact area – we believe they will continue to sell well and customers will continue to upgrade, but the market is changing quite significantly," said Rose.

Digital imaging is one of three key pillars the company sees as vital to its future, along with high definition display products and audio products.

Sony Australia will promote the Alpha A100 range through an integrated print and online campaign, consumer experiential events, trade promotions, point of purchase material and public relations activity.