Thursday, February 23, 2006

Canon, Kodak face off in digital arena

USA TODAY writes about the heated battle in the digital camera marketplace between Canon and Kodak. As the industry heads to the annual Photo Marketing Association International (PMAI) trade show, Canon is the industry leader according to NPD Group, InfoTrends and Current Analysis. Kodak, which is struggling, has been riding the strength of its entry-level digital cameras and IDC said 'Kodak shipped more cameras to dealers last year than any other manufacturer — 7 million, compared with 5 million by Canon. Sony was third with 4.7 million."

Chris Chute at IDC remarked that Japanese companies can view U.S.-based employees either as "warm bodies who can answer the phone and demonstrate new cameras, or pay attention to them and take their advice. Canon does the latter." This is why Canon cameras have vast appeal.

Canon has sold cameras in the USA since 1955. It surpassed Nikon as the hot camera brand in the 1980s with the Canon EOS line of film cameras, which featured automatic focusing.

Stephen Baker, at the NPD Group said, since becoming the hot camera brands in the 1980s, "Canon built on its camera heritage and has been able to get people to believe in them as a digital company. Luckily for them, they've not been burdened by the film overhang that dogs Kodak."

The article looks at the efforts of both companies and Chute said, Kodak "was very aggressive, price-wise, in making low-margin deals to get their cameras into stores. The question next year is whether they can start to make money on the cameras."

NPD's Baker added that for decades, Kodak's strength was in film and processing, "but in a short period of time, they've transitioned into a good, strong hardware company. They've done an amazing job."