Canon is preparing for a time when the digital camera market will only ship 10 million units annually, about 8.2% of the number shipped in 2010. With that in mind, the company is slimming down its production, sales, and product lineups going forward.
Toyo Keizai has been publishing some outstanding stories that are delving deep into the digital camera industry, and the latest is based on an interview with Canon’s General Manager of the Image Communication Business Division Takeshi Tokura, the same Tokura who also told Toyo Keizai that 8K was only included in the EOS R5 because Canon wanted to beat its competitors to that spec, and Minoru Tanaka, the Vice President of Canon.
Tanaka says that the company is preparing for an era where the annual shipment of digital cameras worldwide will drop below 10 million units. 10 years ago, the digital camera market was shipping 121.5 million units, with a vast majority of those sales of cameras with a built-in lens. As those fixed-lens cameras have become less popular thanks to smartphone cameras, the total number of units shipped has been declining steadily. In 2019, only 15.2 million units were shipped.
Looking at the above chart from Statista.com, 2018 marked the first time that interchangeable lens cameras actually outsold fixed-lens cameras, and that trend continues. What is also clear is that while the number of interchangeable lens cameras has diminished slightly, the demand for them appears rather consistent over the last decade.
It’s also rather obvious that foreseeing the fixed lens market continuing to diminish makes Tanaka’s statement about fewer than 10 million units shipped annually a very real possibility.
According to Toyo Keizai, Tanaka has stated a policy of “accelerating all slimming down of business development, production, sales systems, product lineups, etc.” in continued preparation for those low shipment numbers. Canon will likely focus on the segment that has shown the most resilience, interchangeable lens cameras, and also says that it is expanding further into the field of video equipment.
But that does not mean Canon isn’t interested in testing the waters with unusual cameras. For example, Tokura referenced making cameras that are “not like Canon” such as the PowerShot ZOOM that was released in December of 2020, and the iNSPiC REC wearable camera from 2019 that was an inexpensive foray into a type of device that can coexist with a smartphone.
Canon seems to believe that it is just as important to try new concept cameras that specialize in use and function as it is to continue to develop interchangeable lens cameras like the R5.
“We will increase the functions and services including the entry-level and increase the added value (of them),” Tokura says, translated from Japanese. “It is too narrow of a field of view to only produce interchangeable lens cameras.”