With the company continuing to maintain an unprecedented lead in the photo-imaging market, Sony launched a host of new cameras recently including the Cybershot RX100 Mark III, the Alpha A77 II and the A7S full-frame interchangeable camera among other products. On the occasion we spoke to Mr. Kenichiro Hibi, Managing Director, Sony India and Mr. Shigeki Ishizuka, President, Digital Imaging, Sony Corporation on the company’s focus and plans for the digital imaging category in India.
There is no denying the fact that Sony has continually dominated the market in the compact camera segment with over 40% market share even today. But somehow they haven’t been able to translate the same success in the DSLR market. Although their interchangeable lens category cameras, especially in the full-frame category have received great acclaim, it doesn’t seem to have translated into numbers (at least in India). But Sony hopes to change all that with their recent line-up of products.
Speaking about the currents trends and opportunities in the industry Hibi-san feels that Sony is well positioned to capitalise on the opportunities despite the decline of the point-and-shoot cameras, due to the invasion of the camera smartphones. He points out that despite the decline in the compact camera segment, interchangeable lens cameras have been sustaining the size of the market and are starting to expand.
“I think after two years the demand for cameras will be more diverse similar to the shift of the entry-level compact cameras below Rs. 8000 towards camera mobile phones. But we are well positioned in that sphere since we have our mobile phone business. We will be able to capture those customers and their needs and demands,” says Hibi-san.
But while there is a negative growth in the lower compact camera segment there is also a considerable shift in the demand from the consumers for higher quality, resulting for them to shift to DSLRs and high quality compact cameras. “These segments are continuously growing so it’s difficult to say if the demand for compact point-and-shoot cameras is completely gone,” adds Hibi-san.
And there are no points for guessing that Sony India features prominently in the global map as Ishizuka-san puts it, “that’s why I am here”. And with the enormous potential that the Indian consumer market brings, he is expecting more from the developing countries than developed countries. However, the demand for interchangeable lens cameras is still considerably small in India. “But I think the future of the interchangeable mirrorless cameras is much bigger than SLR due to its light weight, compact nature and no mechanical shutter and mirror inside the body,” added Ishizuka-san.
Currently, the camera business contributes approximately 10% to the overall Sony business in India and the company plans to increase the same in the time to come.
Although the company intends to increase its focus on the DSLR category due to its huge market opportunity, they would like to strike a balance between amateurs and professionals considering that the majority of their customers are amateurs. “We are aware that our biggest target audience are not exactly professional photographers. But professional photographers are also very important for us and we can never forget that.”
Speaking about the consumer pattern of the Indian customer, Ishizuka-san asserts that despite India being a peculiar market the behavioural pattern as compared to the other markets is quiet similar. “There are some peculiarities that they prefer, like more bulky and bigger cameras. However, the demand for photography is the same.”
Only time will tell how the consumers respond to the company’s strategy and products, but from the look of the things, it’s looking all good for the Japanese giant.