Nikon working on a “secret” product (smart phone?)


In a recent interview at Nikon's headquarters, the company's president Makoto Kimura raised concerns about falling sales of compact cameras due to the growing market share of smart phones:

“The number of people taking snapshots is exploding by use of smartphones that sold 750 million or so last year and are still growing. We’ve centralized our ideas around cameras but can change our approach to offer products to that bigger market.”

Nikon President Makoto Kimura (Bloomberg)

Nikon President Makoto Kimura (Bloomberg)

Apparently Nikon is looking for alternative ways to generate growth - they have assembled a new Nikon Imaging team that is working on secret products that will be available in less than 5 years:

“We want to create a product that will change the concept of cameras. It could be a non-camera consumer product.”

The president Makoto Kimura did not comment on whether Nikon is working on a smart phone.

Nikon Phone

Photo by Jonny Johansson

Via Bloomberg


Last year Nikon announced their first Android based Coolpix 800c compact camera.

nikon-logo  MICROSOFT LOGO
Few months ago Nikon and Microsoft signed Android patent agreement.

The upcoming Nexus 5 smart phone is rumored to have a Nikon camera module inside.

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  • malchick743

    I’d rather see them revert to quality film scanners (1-2 would be nice)…

  • anon

    let’s face it, as much as it pains me to say this because i hate the things more than anything else, the smart phone is the new camera for the general population… I was at the zoo this weekend shooting a tiger cub with my family. My family all had DSLRs and there was one other guy who had a d700 and a 400 2.8 (impressive)… so that makes 4 decent level cameras. plus maybe there were a couple other dslrs i didn’t really pay attention to… BUT there were about 100 people around us using smartphones to take pics of this bear cub that was 100 feet away. Funny, nearly all of them were dumbfounded as to why their brand new fancy smart phone can only take a piece of crap picture of wildlife.

    My point is Nikon is a business that needs to make money. 4+ dslrs vs 100 smartphones in use. just look at the numbers. Oh, I forgot to mention there were fewer point and shoots in the crowd than dslrs. cheap high volume cameras are always the easy money makers which have always typically been point and shoots. But with point and shoots going by the wayside, Nikon will have to offer something else to remain profitable. I don’t like that they may be investing R&D in it, but it is what it is.

    We decent photographers should be happy about the smart phone cameras though. The smart phone camera will never, ever come close to equaling the quality of a similar generation dslr or good enthusiast point and shoot even if it is a Nikon smart phone. It leaves less potential “competition” from those inexperienced (or “bad” for lack of better word) who think they don’t need an experienced photog to get the job done.

    • bgbs

      Smartphones pretty much caught to point-n-shoot IQ. The advantage of a smartphone besides that is it smaller than point and shoot, is that all the pics in it can be easily shared and viewed; There is also this social aspect associated with the pictures after you took them, because people gather around their cellphones and show people their pictures, you don’t do that with your camera. With the point and shoot, once the picture is taken, it gets offloaded to a computer, and gets lost in the HD until it crashes.

    • Sahaja

      How profitable will smart phones be in 4-5 years time? The just launched Firefox smart phone is only $90 – it may not be up to the level of an iPhone or Galaxy, but that is likely the way prices are headed.

      Look what happened to the profit margins on PCs

      • anon

        until a replacement “concept” for the smart phones come out, they will be highly profitable because they are a “necessity” in today’s world. The big difference between PC pricing and phone pricing is phone carriers can charge astronomical amounts of money for crap phones. The customer just doesn’t see the direct cost because it’s built into the UNBELIEVABLY, RIDICULOUSLY, STUPIDLY high priced data and voice plans that go with them.. when you go buy a smart phone with a new (or extension) plan contract, don’t think for one second that you are actually paying only $79 for a galaxy 4, or whatever it’s called and whatever the initial cost is.. In fact probably in the long run, you pay waaaay more than what that phone is actually worth. Personally i don’t think the firefox phone will have the slightest affect on the other more popular, higher end phones because of what i just mentioned. People look at the initial cost, so they see 79 for Samsung or 90 (or 0 or whataver their plan price will be) for firefox. “Price… who cares, it’s not THAT much money… i want the better phone” is the response of most.

        You can’t compare PC sales to phone sales. The pricing structures are completely different. PCs are a single, upfront, high cost that can’t be hidden, so right now less people are ponying up the high one time cost because the economy is still not great. Plus so many people think tablets are a suitable replacement for real computers…wrong, but that’s the perception… No end in sight for smart phones. They can be the cheapest crappiest junk devices in the world, but if they are perceived as cool and needed, they’ll fetch a premium. At least in the USA, people are completely lost without their phones.

  • Dan

    Forget about smartphones – they’re too late to that game unless they’re willing to OEM/license out the technology. Nikon should follow the same lead as Sony and Fuji – by developing high-resolution, high DR FF cameras in a much smaller form factor. I love my D4, but it’s a fricken massive alloy beast. Have already pre-ordered the Sony RX1R for my street work – and Fuji’s X100s is also notable. Even Ricoh is doing some good stuff – as the flagship brands like Nikon, Canon and Leica start to lag behind.

  • bgbs

    a modular camera?

  • Sahaja

    That D4 looks rather big for Kimura San’s hands. Hope he doesn’t drop it.

  • Matty

    What about a cooperation with Samsung?
    Combining the Samsung S4 with the Nikon D4 = SamKon SD4

  • Captain Incredulous

    President of Nikon: can’t properly attach lens hood.

    • Mate Bilich

      He would first need to learn what the lens hood is…lol.

  • sagacious donkey

    Oh goodie, secret tech…so in 5 years we’ll get what we wanted in the first place, a D400.

  • cgw

    Just make a true F-mount EVF APS-C MILC and stop futzing around, Kimura-san! No one’s head exploded at Sony or Fuji when they did. The days of the big-ass SLR form factor are numbered but Nikon just doesn’t get it. That Nikon is getting juiced about a smartphone is truly scary and suggests how trailing edge they’ve become.

  • Sahaja

    If Nikon try to make a smartphone they will be eaten alive. Blackberry, who practically invented smartphones, is up for sale and Panasonic, NEC and others are getting out of the smartphone industry.

    If these companies can’t make it in smartphones – how could Nikon, who have no background in consumer electronics, other than cameras and optics, succeed?

  • Greg Heller

    A smartphone is the last thing I would buy from Nikon, I just don’t understand what they are thinking. Nikon desperately needs new leadership. It doesn’t appear that they have a strategic plan for any part of their business right now.

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