"The World Is FlatŚthat's the title of Thomas Friedman's book, explaining how our shrinking globe is providing a more level playing field and changing the assumptions of the past. For example, a Japanese company and a Korean company collaborate in a joint, multi-billion dollar endeavor. That's Sony and Samsung, two fierce competitors that joined together to make LCDs for their new TV products. This was almost unthinkable, both from the competitive perspective and from the cultural and historical issues, but economic necessity creates situations for synergies, even among 'competitors,'" he explained.
"Oh for the good old days when the quality of our product was instantly observed as being better than the competition," McCurry said. Today, there are some variations in quality, but they aren't as pronounced as they used to be. In 2006, all the survivors produce a given level of acceptable quality. This is true in finishing as well as digital equipment. The traditional brands are under attack from newcomers. These recent entries produce very credible products. "Our lesson here is this: advertising/promoting quality doesn't resonate with the consumer as it once did," he noted.
Today's buying groups aren't your father's. In the last five years, the IPI group has almost tripled. The PRO warehouse has more than doubled its shipments. Finally, there are ways the independent can come closer to a more level playing field. This is one place where independent business people can't afford to stay in denial. "There are those who will tell you 'My reps look out for me, I won't gain anything by joining a buying group.' These na´ve retailers can't understand why dealers, 10 or even 50 times bigger than they are, join and support these buying groups," explained McCurry. Funny how once a retailer joins a group they continue to pay the dues and rarely if ever leave. The common comment of those who join is, "I can't believe how much money I wasted by not joining sooner." If you look at the survivors and growers in our industry, a large percentage of the survivors are members of PRO, Town & Country, or IPI. "That can't be a total coincidence," he remarked.
"A critical condition for success is to stay current and stay abreast of changes, trends, and developments. How do you do that? Attend every industry gathering you can, come early and stay lateŚmeet people and ask questions. Read everything you can get your hands on. When you see an interesting article in a magazine like PTN and it talks about what one dealer did, pick up the phone and talk to that dealer. Learn from others! It's cheaper than making your own mistakes and it opens up new opportunities you never thought possible," added McCurry.
70 Years of Photo History
By Eliot Peck, VP/GM Sales, Consumer Imaging Division, CANON U.S.A. INC.
Over 70 years ago, Goro Yoshida, along with several other optical engineers, set about to produce a top class camera at an affordable price with the help of a young obstetrician named Takeshi Mitarai. A prototype was developed by this new camera company, which was named after the Buddhist goddess of mercy, Kwanon. One year later, the name Canon was adopted, and in 1936, the Hansa Canon 35mm camera was created as Canon's first commercially available 35mm camera. Canon has been a pioneer in camera technology, delivering landmark cameras to photographers all around the world and of all skill levels.
The 1950's brought the Canon name to American soil, and was also the decade that saw the launch of the landmark Canon IVSb camera. The IVSb boasted the world's first electronically synchronized flash mechanism, a predecessor to today's hot shoe. While the sales of the IVSb camera were steady, the market of the 1960's was asking a for a more affordable high end camera for snap shooters, which Canon answered with the Canonet. This camera was compact and easy to use, and broke new ground at a new price point which made it popular for dealers and consumers.
Canon emerged from the 1960's as a major player in the camera market, but the 1970's would bring the evolution for Canon as a choice for pros and enthusiasts. Introduced in 1971, the Canon F1 camera was the result of Canon's drive to produce a high quality pro camera, which could be reconfigured to adapt to any photo assignment.
It was later in the 1970's that the pro features would come into a consumer camera, the AE1, a widely popular camera, thanks in part to the first ever television advertisement for such an advanced camera.
In the years to come, Canon introduced the SureShot P&S line for consumers, and later followed with the ELPH. In 1987, the EOS system, with its new EF lenses helped Canon cement it's dominance in the pro market. As the age of digital began to rise, Canon digital cameras evolved with the PowerShot Digital line, and September 2003 saw the introduction of the world's first DSLR under $1,000, the EOS Digital Rebel. In 2006, Canon has on the market more groundbreaking products; including the smallest and lightest full frame camera on the market (EOS 5D) and the worlds fastest digital SLR (EOS 1D Mark II N).