While PMA generally moves at around 100 mph, we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to sit down with Canon’s Joe Adachi, President and CEO, Canon U.S.A., Inc., for a candid conversation just off the crazy show floor for a quiet 20-minute conversation. His calming manner and matter-of-fact candor was a welcome respite from the hectic, often times glossed-over conversations we are a part of at trade shows.
Picture Business took this opportunity to chat with Mr. Adachi on a wide variety of subjects – some of which were specifically related to Canon technology and a few that spoke in more general terms about industry-wide issues.
We appreciate the time Mr. Adachi took to speak with us and are happy to be bringing this interview to you in our PMA Post Show Wrap-up issue.
PB: Canon, as well as several other companies in the imaging industry, seem to be moving closer to developing a true all-in-one imaging device that takes high-quality stills as well as high quality video. How close are we to the reality of an affordable, compact device that does both?
JA: Canon has always had a strong heritage in both the still and video arenas and that will continue to be an advantage for us as we explore product in this area. Our DIGIC III Image Processor, combined with our continued advancements in CMOS sensor development will enable us to someday produce just such a product. However, the market right now isn’t telling us there is an immediate need for this product. Consumers are happy with the product that is out there now and there are advances being made all the time with both still and video technology. When the time is right, Canon will be there.
PB: As video gains in popularity as a way to capture and preserve memories, does Canon see this trend whereby consumers shoot short clips for e-mailing and posting to sites like YouTube (as opposed to shooting hours of footage) as the new way they will be shooting video? Will it begin to replace the capturing of still images, particularly among the younger demographic?
JA: Whether consumers shoot stills or video has always depended on what their purpose is for capturing a particular event in their lives. Each technology has its merits and every consumer has developed different habits. At Canon, we feel it’s important to give consumers a variety of choices. We feel for the foreseeable future consumers will continue shooting both and we will continue to improve upon the ways with which they can do this.
PB: With the DSLR market having gotten very crowded in the last few years, the race appears to be on for the “family photographer” as lower-end models are beginning to dominate this market. What features will set Canon’s models apart in this market segment?
JA: For Canon, our lens system will continue to lead the way within the DSLR category. We make no compromises in this area and continue to offer what we feel is the industry’s best array of high quality lenses. Our lenses are designed for improved edge-to-edge image quality that will continue to meet the strict requirements of professional and high-end amateur photographers.
PB: What does the future hold for the Point & Shoot digital camera market when you consider how the prices on DSLRs have dropped and with the camera phone market advancing so rapidly?
JA: We think there will remain three keys that will drive the point-and-shoot digital camera market in the future:
1 – Continuing to produce high tech models and continually improve features and operation of cameras. We can’t stop taking this technology to the next level.
2 – Continue to make the camera as easy as possible to use – make the picture-taking process quick and easy for the consumer to produce great results.
3 – Keep the cameras affordable as the capability of them improves.
People climb mountains because they are there and they desire the challenge. Point-and-shoot cameras are still there and we must continue to make them better because that mountain is still there to climb and we must continue to meet that challenge.
PB: Canon has made some great strides in the printing market over the last few years with both home printing solutions as well as some interesting large format offerings. Will Canon eventually think about bringing a retail digital printing solution to the market – whether a kiosk of some sort or a stand-alone unit that does various print sizes?
JA: That remains a possibility. That market is getting very crowded so if we do we will want it to be something very different from what is currently out there. So yes, we have considered entering this market at some point. We will continue to produce high quality home printing solutions as well as versatile and high quality large format printers.
PB: From Canon’s perspective, what does the traditional photo retailer need to do to survive, as competition for the consumer’s digital imaging dollars appears to be closing in from so many different channels?
JA: With imaging technology constantly changing they need to stay on top of all these changes and they must adapt to the changing habits of the end user. In the end, the final decision makers on what the user wants is not the manufacturer or the retailers – it’s the consumer themselves.
Quality service and knowledge of the product are more important today than ever. They have to listen to their customers.
PB: With consumers feeling some frustration over exactly what to do with all this digital data they are busy collecting (stills, video, MP3s, etc.), how does Canon feel about the issue of storage and organization of these memories? What can the industry do to make all this stuff more actionable for the end user?
JA: Confusion is simply no good. Consumers want choices today, not confusion when it comes to their needs. They are looking for choice and new ideas for what to do with their images. Part of the responsibility does fall on the consumer – they need to be smart today – they need to be aware of the solutions that are out there. But I will also say the industry has a responsibility to better educate the consumer in this area. We must remember the transition to digital is still going on – it is not a completed process at this stage. The older consumers are still thinking in analog terms while the younger generation doesn’t know anything about 35mm photography. The industry must remember that they need to learn how to speak to both of them.