Nikon appoints Bo Kajiwara as the new CEO for the Americas

Bo Kajiwara, CEO of Nikon Corporation for the Americas (photo credit: Nikon)

Nikon announced the appointment of Bo Kajiwara as the new CEO of Nikon Corporation for the Americas.

Here is the full press release:

Bo Kajiwara Appointed to President and Chief Executive Officer, Nikon Inc. to Guide Imaging Leader’s Growth and Focus on Innovation

MELVILLE, NY – Nikon Inc. has formally announced the appointment of Bo Kajiwara as the new President of Nikon Inc, the subsidiary of Nikon Corporation for the Americas. Kajiwara transitions from his role as the Senior General Manager, Sales and Marketing for Nikon Europe.During his 29-year tenure with Nikon, Kajiwara has overseen many major product and marketing efforts including the launches of industry changing DSLR cameras, multiple NIKKOR lenses and compact camera options.  Previous to his position at Nikon Europe, Kajiwara held the role at Nikon Corp. in Japan of General Manager for the Communications Department, with the responsibility for International Sales Strategy and Communications. Kajiwara is no stranger to the US, having worked in Nikon Inc. from 2004 to 2013, rising to the role of Vice President of Marketing, Planning and Customer Experience from head of the Imaging Division.

“I am very eager to help lead the charge in the Americas; It’s an exciting time in the imaging industry, and as Nikon celebrates our 100th anniversary, the company’s outlook for innovation is positive, which is great news for our customers, partners and retailers,” said Kajiwara. “We just announced Nikon’s most powerful DSLR ever, and the highly acclaimed D850 DSLR is just the start of great things to come. Nikon is leveraging its legacy and experience to create exceptional products and solutions for a wide range of applications.”

In his new position as President and CEO of Nikon Inc., Kajiwara will oversee markets in the Americas, including the United States, Canada, Mexico and Central Latin America, with a concentrated effort on marketing, product development and customer satisfaction. Kajiwara will continue to promote the drive to optimize “focus and efficiency,” which has become a core pillar of Nikon Corp’s. worldwide plan for restructuring to drive profitability.

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  • HD10

    A photographer running a photography company would be beneficial.

    • RC Jenkins

      I’d say more like “A photographer running product at a photography company would be beneficial.”

      From many of the comments we routinely see here, I don’t think photography skills necessarily translate to business… 🙂

      After all, we photographers don’t often use what sells best. We use the brand-building, validating, higher-end products that may be the smallest direct portion of the actual business.

      A CEO needs to be able to say things like “we need a $400 product that appeals to the general social public who is willing to carry a camera everywhere, easily apply a few basic edits, and upload immediately images that can not be produced with a mobile phone camera. And will spark enough curiosity to buy more lenses.”

      This may be different than how many of us who are willing to get into raw edits (etc.) do things.

      • HD10

        I understand and concur …. specially if you read “photographer” as referring to the various photographers from entry-level users to the most advanced users.

        • ZoetMB

          Only to some extent. Customers don’t always know what they want, especially when it comes to totally new products. Sometimes, and especially when you break new ground, you have to have the courage of your convictions. You have to listen to customers to understand things like professional workflow and how consumers want to upload photos to social media sites, but you can’t let customers design your products.

          Sony developed the Walkman because the co-founder, Akio Morita wanted one personally. No one was asking for what became the smartphone when Apple developed it. In fact, when Steve Jobs first presented it at the announcement, he jokingly teased that it was actually three separate devices and no one blinked an eye.

          • Kefauver

            Apple did not invent the smartphone. Well before Jobs showed off the first iPhone in 2007, Blackberry (RIM), Microsoft, and Nokia all were producing smartphones (in volumes appropriate to the data-starved beginning of the ’00s).

            Did Apple introduce a new paradigm or three? Absolutely. But the iPhone was no more the first smartphone than the iPod was the first MP3 player.

            That said, Jobs and Morita and even Lee Iacocca (Dodge Caravan/Plymouth Voyager) all maintained a firm image of a product quite new to the general public and created markets worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Here’s hoping Kajiwara-san has that kind of insight and drive.

            • ZoetMB

              It was the first smartphone that combined all the functionality that we now expect a smartphone to have with a browser that looked like a computer web browser and had a great UI. The Blackberry had a great physical keyboard, but the UI completely sucked and anything longer than a sentence or two in email was indecipherable. The first thing I did when I got my iPhone was give back the Blackberry to the guy in charge at the company I was working at and said, “I never want to see this POS again”.

              And while Apple didn’t have the eco-system at the very beginning, it came soon after and that was the end of Blackberry and Nokia as we knew it. Microsoft tried and I never thought their interface was all that bad, but people hated it.

            • Kefauver

              Not denying any of that. But it still was not the first smartphone. Millions of people were using Blackberrys and Nokia Symbian phones before the iPhone was introduced.

              Did Apple take the market? Yes, like they did with a windowed OS, the iPod, the iTunes Music Store, and the iPad. Jobs had a genius for that kind of thing. But saying the iPhone was the first is like saying hamburgers didn’t exist before the McDonald brothers.

  • RC Jenkins

    Cool? I hope he does well…

    Though I must say, it sounds like he was a leader at Nikon in:
    ::Marketing
    ::Planning
    ::Customer Experience

    …which I wouldn’t exactly say have been Nikon’s strengths…

    I also don’t feel the warm & fuzzies about the comment:
    “Nikon is leveraging its legacy and experience to create exceptional products…”

    Maybe it’s time Nikon stops looking backward at it’s legacy, and instead looks forward at its future…

    • Especially marketing. Sony for example gave at least 5 interviews in the last 2 weeks: https://photorumors.com/2017/11/14/new-sony-interview-with-imaging-resource/
      They appear confident and fans love it.

    • ZoetMB

      Statements like that mean absolutely nothing. They’re just like political statements designed to convey no real information whatsoever. Legacy, experience, quality, 100th anniversary, blah, blah blah.

      • RC Jenkins

        I agree to an extent, but it also could indicate a disconnect. I didn’t see any mention of any recognition of changes that need to happen. Instead, this looks like “We’ll continue doing what we’re doing.”

        Nikon needs to pull a Domino’s:
        https://hbr.org/2016/11/how-dominos-pizza-reinvented-itself

        • ZoetMB

          I agree that it looks like they’ll continue what they’re doing. Nikon needs to look beyond tradition and hire a European, American, Indian…someone other than a Japanese exec who came up through Nikon.

          But I disagree about Domino’s. The last thing Nikon needs to emulate is a crappy fast food chain no matter what platitudes they espouse.

          • RC Jenkins

            If you agree, what was the purpose of the previous response?

            Also, did you read the article? You have to look beyond pizza.

            It’s more about transforming the business for growth in a changing marketplace than pizza. That ‘crappy fast food chain’ is now the second largest pizza chain in the world, and was the only major food retailer to increase its same-store sales for those six years in a row.

  • Well Nikon has to learn from the smartphone business. The DSLR camera business is becoming a bit like a dinosaur. The consumer market vanished allmost instantly to the smartphones. Hence Nikon needs to focus more on software, user interface and interoperability on network. Maybe….wild idea…. they should even consider making an NiPhone.

    • Semaphore

      I go to Nikon for the cameras.

      If I want a phone I could just pick up a Sony, a HTC, a Google, a Samsung, or an Apple. Even if Nikon can compete in this sector (they can’t) it’s not a substitute for their camera business as far as we users are concerned.

      • Well, I dont think you get my point right. There is no substitute for a large DSLR in a smartphone. But if you look at theDSLR its pretty much a piece of old fashion hardware compared to a smartphone and theres a huge gap in UI and other stuff Networking etc. The interface is like a Nokia when the Iphone came on the market and killed them off 10years ago. Nikon needs to accelerate their software part of the company to attract the younger generations growing up. That implies first of al a UI with touch screen in stead of old fashion menus. It also need to be networked so you dont have to use memory cards to exchange with your computer. Another concept of recharging. Im on my third Nikon DSLR and I am not unsatisfied as such, but its way behind in UI thinking. If Nikon made a smartphone they would learn from it. I know the company is moving into other business areas these years because the lost the consumer camera market to the Smartphones

        • Sawyerspadre

          They could keep the UI they have and add voice control. Smartphones and touch screens are so last year as UIs go. Amazon could help them. They don’t need to build a smartphone to have a better UI.

          • Semaphore

            Ugh. I can’t imagine trying to set auto focus points or changing shutter speeds or whatever going well, at all, with a voice.

            • Sawyerspadre

              It doesn’t need to replace the current UI. It’s in addition.

              This will be the UI conundrum for many products.

              Old school, but familiar, buttons and menues

              Vs

              Touch screen

              Vs

              Voice control

              Setting your shutter speed may be best with a dial or wheel, editing your photo might be best on the touch screen, and sending the photo to Instagram might be a easiest via voice, with the touch screen as the alternate method.

            • Thom Hogan

              Yeah, no. The automobile makers have been going through this and getting creamed on it in reviews and user complaints.

              For many things, easy to find and manipulate control widgets (dials, buttons, knobs, sticks, etc.) are a far better solution when you have someone who is trying to maintain concentration elsewhere than a screen.

              You’d think that voice would be preferable, but as it turns out, it is not because it slows the control interaction down. “Hey Alexakon, set aperture to f/8” is slower than moving a dial your finger is already on.

              Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t places where touch and voice wouldn’t be useful. For example “Hey Alexakon, show me all images that are sharp that I took in the last burst.” That command is far faster than what it would take you to do manually. Likewise, as we’ve discovered with the properly-implemented touchscreens, scrolling rapidly and picking menu items is faster with touch than Direction pad.

              Design is about picking the right solution for the problem, not how modern it is or how good it looks.

            • Sawyerspadre

              Agreed, that touch and voice done badly are worse. I have a 2016 Toyota with Nav, that is a great example.

              Bad voice control, bad UI for touch and outdated map data, that is not updated by the app running on your phone, you have to load an SD card, with maps that you have to pay for.

              It’s not likely that Nikon would do it much better than Toyota.

              This topic was a tangent anyway. Thom, do you know this guy? Does he care what customers want?

            • Thom Hogan

              I met him once at a trade show. I’m sure he doesn’t remember me from that, but since he’s been at NikonUSA before he may remember my name ;~).

              I don’t think that it’s so much that Nikon doesn’t care what customers want as it is where the priority for that falls (low). The marching orders are costs under control first and foremost. That’s why you see words like “focus and efficiency” in the press release.

            • Sawyerspadre

              Ok, cost control is good, when you’re shrinking. Do you think he gets that Nikon needs a decent mirrorless camera, and some nice lenses to go with it? Maybe that’s when your DX lenses (buzz) are coming, with the DX mirrorless body. Maybe some top line growth, or at least leveling of sales would help the cost control to be more effective.

            • Allan

              You get the feeling that they have no firm plans to get new customers who don’t already own a Nikon camera.

            • I was always curious – do the executives on that level really care about photography or they do that just as a job and probably don’t even own a camera.

            • ZoetMB

              “How good it looks” should not be excluded. Good graphic design and good typography aids in comprehension. And how modern it is could appeal to the part of the consumer segment that currently thinks Nikon is their father’s camera.

            • Pat Mann

              OTOH, in my bird pictures, the sharpest ones are almost always the ones where only the subject is out of focus. A longer discussion with the camera would be required.

            • Kefauver

              I find voice control highly overrated. Not only do you depend on AI to decode what’s been spoken, but it has to work successfully in crowded and loud environments — environments made even louder by the buzz of people commanding their devices to do their bidding.

              Several years ago Nikon made a couple of Coolpix cameras with Android UIs. Both of them stiffed in the market (I’d have to look up why). Nikon hasn’t tried since even though the trend for smartphone cameras has been clear since 2012. How come?

          • IanMak

            I spent time thinking of what customers want. Then i realized…. Customers dont actually want cameras at all.

            If you think what the average person does. They just take selfies and pictures of their food. They literally dont need cameras and i think they know it too.

            While we are thinking of how to beef up a camera for the average person. The average person probably doesnt want a dedicated device at all.

            • Sawyerspadre

              You are right, they probably don’t want a camera, but they enjoy images. They want images to share memories, the camera is a means to that end, and for many, their phone does it well enough.

            • Merv S

              The average person you are describing wants to look great but have things such as white balance, sharpness, colour, etc. be done automatically for them. Most of us here lift our noses up at using ‘Auto’ mode. But getting this mode right is how to get a casual user more into taking pictures.

        • Semaphore

          > That implies first of al a UI with touch screen in stead of old fashion menus.

          They already have touch screens in newer models. I’m apprehensive about this line of thinking though. It seems like the kind of idea that created Windows 8 – “who needs old fashioned nested menus, just put everything on the same page for touch screens!”

          It’s totally garbage in terms of usability. Flashiness is easier to market, but not worth sacrificing usability for.

          > It also need to be networked so you dont have to use memory cards to exchange with your computer.

          They’ve been doing that for while now. Unfortunately it’s pretty shitty, but this isn’t something you have to make a mobile to know about.

          > If Nikon made a smartphone they would learn from it.

          Nah. You’re assuming Nikon doesn’t do this and that because they don’t know to. In reality, Nikon is simply failing at doing those things. If Nikon tries to make a smart phone, it’ll be a disaster.

          • no in their dinosaur thinking they are not particularly good at it. And that’s conservatism maybe even in line with some “classic” users. The challenge is the younger users with intuition from the smartphone iPads.

        • BVS

          The D5500/D5600 has something like you’re describing, with a GUI for changing common settings. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e4edac6d499ec57f4c712ec28fd09873dc4cd9f38642c53a10f78da73ba84eff.jpg

          • Thom Hogan

            Yeah. And try using it shooting action.

            • BVS

              Oh, I totally agree. The physical controls are much quicker and easier. Just saying that Nikon isn’t completely out of touch.

        • ZoetMB

          Nikon is not making a phone. They’re years behind and they would never make the investment to design something unique. If Nikon “made” a phone, it would be an Android phone with a Nikon branded lens. Nothing more and it would be a disaster. And Nikon doesn’t know how to scale the way you would have to for a phone. Nikon doesn’t have to “learn” UI and UX. They need to hire people who know what the hell they’re doing and they probably shouldn’t be located in Japan.

    • Merv S

      The way to go may be to provide sensor and lens technology to a company like Apple. However, this was just announced last week, so maybe too late for Nikon to go this route: http://www.businessinsider.com/apple-buys-invisage-technologies-2017-11

  • Luca Motz

    Now if only he actually did what he preaches. Everything he says makes sense but how about starting a marketing campaign showing everybody that Nikon is the best out there. Seriously why wouldn’t they do a double blind test with entry level DSLRs and pros (it‘s obvious to the pros which camera it is but what the hell it‘s marketing) where the Nikons beat the crap out of the rest. Sure sounds like something Sony would do if their cameras could actually do that

    • Thom Hogan

      Of course none of them do this because they’ve seen the results when the media does it, and they’re paranoid they’ll lose ;~).

      • Luca Motz

        Can’t win if you don’t try either though. And at the moment Nikon is only losing in the marketing department

  • jonebize

    Still refreshing for a Digital FM2

    • Markus

      This, and I wish they would bring a camera that is made for manual focus. I’d include all possible adapters as well and enable all features for all manual lenses.

      This would be so great to have access to all legacy lens systems.

      • Sawyerspadre

        All, or all F mount? I wouldn’t hold your breath for all.

      • jonebize

        That would be amazing. Something with a crazy viewfinder or some new MF tech. But still beautiful to look through (I love the old film viewfinders. Everything feels magical. It’s inspiring.)

      • Max

        Yes all the above, plus 24 and 16 1.8 dx afp primes.

  • FountainHead

    In a company where the same goods are shipped to worldwide markets, is a regional ‘CEO’ anything more than a glorified sales-and-service manager?

  • Amir

    My sacred mission would be: ‘to sharpen North American branch’s unacceptable customer services by encouraging staff to serve better with my ancestral Samurai sword everyday! That will boost the sales and stock values as well’.

  • Mansgame

    I fear him, but I am not afraid.

  • doge

    lol. this guy was Vice President of Marketing, Planning and Customer Experience from head of the Imaging Division.

    Guess what’s still going to suck at Nikon?

    • Allen_Wentz

      We can wish that he always wanted to have good planning and customer experience, but was constrained by his superiors, and now that he is in full charge he will actually build structure to _listen_ to users.

      We can wish.

  • br0xibear

    This appointment isn’t some new direction or new attitude from Nikon.
    Bo Kajiwara is the new CEO of Nikon Inc, (a subsidiary covering North and South America), he’s replacing Toru Iwaoka, who was named president of Nikon Europe BV and a corporate vice president of the parent company.
    Nikon Japan still run the show and tell the subsidaries what to do.

    • Allan

      Because they refuse to listen to Thom, Nikon Japan need to get some bright people in their 30’s and 40’s to help them going forward. New thinking. My comment is serious.

      • RC Jenkins

        …where 30’s & 40’s = the total age of the person, not the duration of time they’ve worked at Nikon…

        😉

      • Maybe they did, let’s wait and see what they will come up with for their mirrorless solution and then we will know. The D850 looks great so far.

        • br0xibear

          “Maybe they did”…what, they did listen to Thom ?, and that’s why they’re in the mess they are ?…I knew it, it’s all Thom’s fault.
          Never trust anyone with a beard, lol.

          • Thom has a beard? 🙂

  • CommonSense

    Kajiwara-san’s mention of “legacy” is indication that Nikon will focus (pun intended) on some core strengths: lenses and imaging, for example. Some other core topics are not “strengths” at the moment, but are improving, like user interfaces. There have been other changes inside the corporation too: the realization that you can’t be successful with just a top-down product design and implementation. Japanese culture has been top-down for years and now there appear to be some marketing efforts to identify who the users are and what we want. The mention of a new mirrorless camera or system is intriguing even though I really like my Nikon 1 J5 for everyday walk-around.It will be at least 6 months before we see any tangible results.

    • ZoetMB

      Yes, they keep mentioning mirrorless, but their projections for the year indicate no mirrorless for this fiscal, which means the very earliest is April and with no specific rumors, April is very doubtful.

      • Sawyerspadre

        Did I miss where it said “mirrorless” in the PR?

  • lordbaldric

    Now Nikon can bring back the old Bo Jackson advertising campaign!

    Bo knows cameras.
    Bo knows lenses.
    Bo knows photographs.
    Bo knows Nikon.

    😛

  • Hmmm, what a friendly looking portrait.

  • whisky

    yay! happy 100th anniversary.
    would be best if Nikon had something to show for it. =:-/

  • rolleiflexes

    I don’t doubt he has the experience for the job but as others have said the thing that nikon really suffers with is in their marketing. They need to get some young blood in there and preferably someone who is a photographer themselves so they know what photographers want. They need to hurry and shake things up now that sony is eating their lunch…

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