For sure, the recent financial report [PDF] from Canon shows that the situation is not perfect for them (But compare to Sony who announced it would soon sell its historical headquarters Osaki building in Tokyo). it’s clear that all photography equipment manufacturers are facing difficult times with a dwindling market eaten by smartphones more and more able to shoot photos.
If Canon Imaging is still growing thanks to a strongly depreciated Yen (given by Mr. Abe), the total number of shipped parts is dropping (-21% from 2013). And the compact cameras are going through the floor (-28%). Interchangeable Lens Digital Cameras are a fuzzy category (including DSLR and others), but the results are relatively good with (only) a 7% loss in shipped quantities.
Based upon this, it’s no surprise that Canon may be re-considering the importance of staying in the entry market where the competition comes from Chinese-designed and -produced cameras at bargain basement prices and from smartphones as expensive as many cameras but available at all time in our pockets. There was no such official information, but it’s heard through the grapevine that the decision may laready have been taken to move out of the entry-level point-and-shoot cameras to concentrate on more high-end products.
What do I think about it? It would make sense and it would be very consistent with the overall marketing strategy of the big brands (starting with Canon, Nikon and Sony) which are trying to elevate the performance of their products (bigger, more expensive, more pro DSLR; sometimes, going all out for the retro-fashion like with the Nikon Df; bigger sensors with the Full Frame sensors on every camera including the smallest ones). One possibility would still be for Canon to sub-contract these difficult entry-level products to Chinese designers with only a Canon label on top of them (to keep a fake market presence).