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Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Nikon Sees significant Growth in Compact Digicams

Nikon expects double-digit shipment growth in compact digital cameras during the next business year and aims to increase its global market share to about 10 percent, helped by the launch of new models.

Nikon on Tuesday unveiled seven new compact cameras for the spring season under the Coolpix brand, including a high-end model with 10-megapixel resolution and an ultra-small device that can shoot images in less than a second after turning on the power.

Tokyo-based Nikon had cut back shipments of compact models to avoid a rigorous price war and focus on profitability while other makers such as Konica Minolta and Kyocera had to exit the industry amid fierce competition.

Nikon, which has said it aims to ship 6.5 million compact digital cameras in the year ending March, hopes the new models will help it lift its market share from the current 8.5 percent.

However, Nikon's targets lag far behind market leader Canon's sales forecast of 21 million compact cameras in the year ending December, up 13 percent from 2006.

Nikon has enjoyed strong popularity for its digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras, advanced models geared toward professionals and enthusiasts, which has helped it post big jumps in profit and raise annual forecasts earlier this month.

The camera market saw a boom for entry-level DSLRs last year, with new players such as Sony Corp. trying to bite into top maker Canon's more than 50 percent market share. Nikon comes second with a share of around 37 percent.

Nikon had said it aims to expand its DSLR market share to above 40 percent in the mid-term. The new models included S500, a 7.1-megapixel device with a small body and quick response speed, and P5000, the 10-megapixel gear that works with exterior lens converters and flashes for greater flexibility.

The two models, which are scheduled to become available in mid-March globally, will be sold at about 40,000 yen ($334) and 45,000 yen respectively in Japan, the company said.

The S50c model, with an expected retail price of about 40,000 yen, has Wi-Fi wireless connectivity, allowing users to upload pictures to the Web immediately without linking the device to a personal computer.

Nikon will also offer simpler L12 and L11 compacts, priced at around 25,000 yen and 20,000 yen respectively, which are easier to use and more affordable.

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