During the PMA show, we had the opportunity to sit down with Yoroku "Joe" Adachi, managing director, Canon Inc., Japan; president, Canon Americas Group; and president and CEO, Canon U.S.A., Inc., to discuss his vision for growth in the marketplace.
An important aspect of Canon's business is the support the company gives to the professional photography market. "We must meet customer requests," Mr. Adachi says, explaining that pros are always looking for new features to take better, higher-quality photographs. By working closely with these customers, and implementing their demands in future products, Canon can provide its customers with the cameras and photographic equipment they need.
"Canon is a very technical-driven company," he says. The challenge today is in creating products that offer customers high-quality still and video imaging. This includes High Definition (HD) and the next version of HD technology (Super High Definition) and, ultimately, 3D. Noting that "many different types of technology affect each other," Mr. Adachi explains that he sees a crossover between such technologies as voice recognition and telecommunications coming into such photography products as cameras, and even microwaves or other appliances. Integrating technology into products to meet the demands of the customer is important to Canon. The company is always looking into the future, with the focus of creating new products in areas Canon sees as high growth potential.
"Photographers [want to] convey their message accurately," he says. "Today there's no 3D, but my prediction is that some day in the future, we will have to offer this. We have to understand the photographer's ultimate goal." Understanding the customers' goals is paramount to being able to offer products that meet those needs.
The consumer market brings its own set of challenges. Different consumers may have different requests—for features, customizable output, and even quality—and the challenge is for the company to find a way to meet these different requests. "[We have to] adapt cameras to lifestyles; that's our challenge," Mr. Adachi explains. "We have to make your life rich, not impose on your lifestyle."
PTN asked Mr. Adachi what he felt were the primary reasons for Canon's EOS line's popularity and duration as the camera line celebrates its 20th anniversary. "The philosophy behind the technology—nobody can imitate it," he says. "Our strong areas are in lens systems and body technologies." Combining the two into the EOS line marries the benefits of the SLR with high-quality optics. Canon's strength in optical design, with more than 50 lenses, gives customers the ability to capture a wide range of images, using a variety of lenses, from fisheye and wide-angle through telephoto. He notes that the company is always seeking new ideas in refining lenses, body design, and accessories—such as making them smaller, lighter, and faster.
Entering the Display Business
Canon's current strengths may lie with input and output devices, but the company sees itself as more. "Our final goal, our target, is to be a total imaging company. Following that logic, we must be in the display business," Mr. Adachi says. "We will get into the display business. We have input devices (cameras) and output devices (inkjet and large-format printers); the screen is [yet] another output device." Canon also makes projectors, but LCD or SED displays are directions the company is looking to move into. He explains that the company will devote R&D to these types of new products, while moving forward on the core products—keeping quality at the forefront of design.
Canon doesn't hesitate when it comes to allocating spending on R&D. In fact, Mr. Adachi says the company's philosophy is that through R&D, they are able to keep to the company's high standards of quality.
He also explained that while Canon devotes a great deal of effort to be a "green" company, increasing its environmental-friendliness is of paramount importance. As should be the case with everyone.