平成15年11月5                        翻訳 明壁 浩信

Sanyo snaps up digital camera market


The Asahi Shinbun


OSAKA-Sanyo Electric Co. has quietly developed into the goliath of the digital camera industry.


 But getting an exact reading on this achievement is not easy.


At retail outlets, the Sanyo brand remains a bit player in camera display cases.


 And in domestic sales of digital cameras, the consumer electronics maker’s moniker ranks a lowly 14th, with a market share of less than 3 percent, in a survey by BCN Inc.,

a market research company.


 Behind the scenes, however, it’s a different picture. Sanyo factories in Japan, China , Indonesia and South Korea are expected to pump out 12 million digital cameras this fiscal year. That amounts to 30 percent of global production, larger than any other manufacturer.


 And with digital cameras having consigned conventional film models to the out-tray, Sanyo is now gunning for a 50 percent share.


 Most of the cameras Sanyo makes are sold under other brand names. Sanyo supplies cameras to five clients-which the company declined to name-under an original equipment manufacturing (OEM) agreement.


Under the agreements, Sanyo takes care of everything from design to production. Client camera makers supply the lenses and other optical parts. Other parts, including camera bodies, semiconductor chips and liquid crystal display panels, are provided by Sanyo and other manufacturers.



Sanyo’s climb to supremacy owes much to getting an early start.


In 1994, the company decided something had to be done about its plant in Daito, Osaka Prefecture. At the time, the plant’s mainstay product was the 8-mm camcorder, which was fast fading into sales obscurity.


 “The plant operation was posting a daily loss of 50million yen,” recalled Hiroshi Ono, chief of DI Solution Co., part of Sanyo’s consumer business group.

“工場は毎日5千万円の損失を出していた。”と、サンヨーの消費者部門のDIソリューション鰍フチーフおの ひろし氏は思い出を語る。

The electronics manufacture decided to shift focus on production of digital cameras.


As an experienced buyer of semiconductor chips- a key component of digital cameras-Sanyo felt it has an advantage over traditional camera makers.


 Encouragement from Bill Gates of Microsoft Corp. helped convince Ono he was on to a winner.


 Sanyo presented a digital camera as personal computer peripheral equipment under the Epson brand at the United States in 1996.


 Ono says when Gates saw the prototype, he told him that the spread of PCs would help to drive sales of digital cameras.




 “I was encouraged by his words and decided to focus on digital cameras,” he said.

 There was a snag, however. Sanyo didn’t have sales channels for cameras or personal computer peripherals.


 Ono’s solution was to seek out OEM partnerships with camera makers.


 It has proved to be a successful strategy for profiting on what soon became an exploding business.


 In 2002, the number of digital cameras shipped by Japanese makers surpassed that of film cameras. The shipment of digital cameras in fiscal 2003 ending in March is projected to total 37.44 million units, up 52.5 percent from a years earlier.


 Sales of digital cameras at Sanyo are forecast to stand at 201.2billion yen in fiscal 2003, 3.2 times larger than the figure four years ago.


The sales value will account for 8.2 percent of Sanyo’s consolidated sales, and the figure will be 2.6 times as large as that in fiscal 1999.


 “If we further cut production costs through sharing more parts and by other means, it will not be impossible to raise our production share to 50 percent,” Ono said.


 A key market for this expansion will be China, where sales are expected to reach 1 million units in 2003.


 Sanyo, taking advantage of the sales network of local partner Haier Group Co., has targeted a 10 percent share of the Chinese market by 2005.


 One challenge cited for digital camera makers are cellular phones equipped with cameras.

 But Ono says the inferior picture quality of the phones means they offer no direct competition.


 “Most cell-phone cameras have a resolution of up to 1 million pixels, “ he says.

 “Mainstay digital cameras have better definition of 3 to 5 million pixels, and some have 8 million pixels.”