Nikkei recently ran a story about the success of digital camera manufacturers. They were initially burdended with heavy investment costs, but now have a cash cow as production increased. The top five manufacturers operating profits in their digital-camera-related divisions skyrocketed 130% in fiscal 2002. Global digital camera shipments soared 70% on the year to 24.55 million units in 2002, surging 50% in value terms to about 800 billion yen.

All Manufacturers Becoming Winners

May 16, 2003 (TOKYO) -- Because of the expansion of the global digital camera market, all Japanese companies producing the gadget have become winners in that field.

Brisk digital camera sales helped Olympus Optical Co Ltd and Canon Inc post record-high profits for the fiscal year ended March 31.

"Digital cameras are sold as soon as we produce them. Manufactures are battling to procure parts," notes Tasuku Imai, vice president of Fuji Photo Film Co Ltd.

"Our target for fiscal 2003 is to grab a 20% share of the global market. Some say that it's an ambitious goal, but we are confident that we will achieve it," says Olympus President Tsuyoshi Kikukawa.

Digital camera manufacturers were burdened with heavy costs associated with initial investment for a long time. But the product, which some had predicted would not yield profits, became a cash cow as production increased significantly.

Global digital camera shipments soared 70% on the year to 24.55 million units in 2002, surging 50% in value terms to about 800 billion yen.

Olympus, Sony Corp, Canon and Fujifilm are fiercely competing to win the lion's share of the global digital camera market, with each company holding a share of around 20%.

Olympus saw its digital camera division swing back to profitability on an operating basis in fiscal 2002.

At the top five manufacturers, including Nikon Corp, operating profits in their digital-camera-related divisions skyrocketed 130% in fiscal 2002.

Second-tier manufacturers also enjoyed strong sales, with their strategies of focusing on small or thin digital cameras proving successful.

Konica Corp and Minolta Co Ltd, which plan to merge their operations in August, both reported Thursday record-high group pretax profits for fiscal 2002. Minolta saw ultrathin digital cameras sell briskly, and Konica enjoyed robust sales of small models with resolutions of 5 million pixels.

Casio Computer Co Ltd and Pentax Corp also saw digital camera sales help shore up their earnings.

(The Nihon Keizai Shimbun)