Canon Exposed

I attended a briefing/party in Monaco to mark the 50th Anniversary of Canon in Europe. At the exhibition I saw this display of the insides of a Digital Ixus – picture taken with an earlier model of the self-same camera:

At the event Canon announced the IXUS 950 IS, with 8.0 megapixels, 30fps VGA movies, and face detection technology (this is meant to improve focus, not recognize celebs).

But what did I learn about the insides of Canon itself? This was not an occasion for detailed analysis, though I saw some shiny new cameras and videocams, and had an chat about video codecs which was interesting in the light of my discussions with Microsoft about Silverlight video last week.

Some quick stats though: Canon says it launches 100 products per year and takes out 2000 patents. Since 2004, EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) has been its biggest single market, accounting for 32% of revenue (9 billion Euro in 2006). According to COO Tsenuji Uchida, Canon’s market capitalization is the 6th largest in Japan and 81st worldwide, at around 9 trillion yen. It is the world’s biggest supplier of digital cameras (by value), but only number 4 when it comes to video cameras.

A large part of Canon’s business is in paper handling – printing, scanning, copying – and I would have liked to ask how it expects to thrive in the paperless office era, when and if that ever arrives (I think it will), but didn’t get an opportunity. The answer I guess is in the new corporate logo “We speak image”. Another interesting question is about device convergence: I’ve heard that Nokia is now the biggest single supplier of cameras if you count the things built into mobile phones. When phone cameras become “good enough” for family snaps, will that hit Canon’s market? Possibly, though as photograhy (still and video) becomes cheaper and easier thanks to advancing technology, the hobbyist market is growing and will never be satisified with a phone cam.