At the ON DEMAND/info360 Conference and Expo, held from March 22 to 24, 2011 in Washington, D.C., Canon U.S.A., Inc. introduced the DreamLabo 5000. This new device expands the company’s product offerings with an inkjet solution targeting the production photographic printing market. The DreamLabo 5000 features the company’s newly developed, high-density Full-photolithography Inkjet Nozzle Engineering—or FINE—printhead technology, which enables the printing of output up to 12 inches wide. Over the past few years, many hardware vendors have committed resources in order to grab a piece of this high-stakes market and the new printer establishes Canon’s starting point.
During the show, Digital Output had the opportunity to discuss Canon’s 2010 results, future plans, and the DreamLabo 5000 with Yoroku “Joe” Adachi, president/CEO, Canon U.S.A., Inc. Mr. Adachi’s career spans over 40 years with Canon, beginning his tenure in 1970 at Canon Inc. in Japan. From 1978 to 1992 he worked in the U.S. before returning to Canon Inc. and was later promoted to president of Canon Canada in 1998. In 2001 he served as president of Canon China; moving to his current position at Canon U.S.A. in 2005. With a clear understanding of global markets, Mr. Adachi manages a high-profile technology company in a volatile economy.
Canon’s 2010 Growth
According to Mr. Adachi, Canon Inc.’s worldwide sales in 2010 were more than $45 billion, with Canon U.S.A., Inc. contributing $12 billion to the total. Worldwide sales grew 15.5 percent in 2010, exhibiting a significant rebound from a difficult 2009. These results are impressive considering the stressed economy. We asked Mr. Adachi what he attributes the company’s success to.
“There are a couple of predominant reasons for Canon’s success. One is our management DNA. We know that we must be a technology-driven company. We typically invest approximately seven to eight percent of our revenue in R&D, but over the past two years, despite the challenging economy, we invested nearly nine percent. We always pursue the highest quality and the top end of technology. These advances may not affect our immediate business, but they will make a difference ten to 15 years in the future. It’s no secret, if you look at the total number of patents granted by the U.S. government in the past ten years, Canon is ranked number two. Though we are not yet ranked in the top 100 global companies in the world by revenue, with patents we are number two,” he stresses.
Mr. Adachi credits Canon employees as another component of success. “We are a very people-oriented company. We like to keep employees and appreciate longevity. People have know-how. Employees at Canon with years of service provide years of market knowledge. This is an important asset,” adds Mr. Adachi.
Despite the tsunami’s impact on Japan in March of this year, Mr. Adachi’s remarks were upbeat and enthusiastic. He expressed the company’s and Japanese people’s gratitude for the help and support through this difficult period. Although the company is headquartered in Tokyo, he notes that Canon’s employees and factories received minor impact from the tsunami and subsequent earthquakes.
Independent of Japan’s need to rebuild due to the economic impact of the natural disaster, we asked Mr. Adachi what he sees as Canon’s biggest hurdles. “The challenge is to identify and provide technology products to a worldwide market where demands for new technology are accelerating and drastically changing.” He continues, “staying ahead of the rapid pace of change is our biggest challenge. It doesn’t matter if it’s Canon or any other company; the company that is one step ahead will be the winner. That is why we commit to a significant annual R&D budget. We need to emphasize the development of research in R&D. Canon strives to innovate for our customers. It is difficult and it takes time. The key to success and yet the greatest challenge is to move quickly.”
In a pre-show meeting with press and industry analysts, Canon demonstrated the DreamLabo 5000. The product establishes Canon’s presence in the production inkjet market. The company cites the retail photo printing and high-end print on demand markets as targets for the new release—market segments the company rates at $4.7 billion in 2007 and forecasts to grow to $6 billion in 2013.
According to Mr. Adachi, “This is a new business domain for us, but many players currently serve this market. To succeed, we have to bring a new, fresh idea into the domain. Fortunately, Canon is able to leverage our unique ability to provide the best image input devices in the market, which helps us to provide the best output devices.”
In his view, Canon is a top-producing and established manufacturer of optics, capture, large format, and electrophotographic-based output technology. The company is best suited to deliver state-of-the-art production grade inkjet output equipment. “We must create differences and new benefits, otherwise there is no benefit for us to get into an already mature and established inkjet photo industry. We expect to bring new ideas that are still in development at the moment,” says Mr. Adachi.