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Nic Rossmüller : February 15th 2007 - 01:30 CET

General Electronics enters photography market

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GEGeneral Electronics enters photography market : Already one of the most trusted consumer brands in the world, GE will soon become one of the hottest names in high quality digital still cameras. General Electronics and corporate newcomer General Imaging Co. announced that the two companies have reached an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement. “We were seeking to enter the digital camera arena and found a perfect partner,” said Brad Irvine, GE President of Trading and Licensing. “The cameras from General Imaging are truly worthy of the GE name, representative of GE’s leadership in technology and innovation.” General Imaging Co. Chairman and CEO Hiroshi “Hugh” Komiya said the GE brand comes with instant credibility.
General Electronics Digital cameras
“GE is a brand that consumers around the world know and trust,” he said. “This is a brand known for innovation and technical leadership. We fully intend to deliver on the GE brand promise and even further enhance the GE brand value.” Headquartered in Torrance, California, General Imaging brings together an all-star cast of photo industry veterans. Komiya is a former president of Olympus Imaging Corporation. Leading sales efforts in North America will be Rene Buhay, a former Vice-President of Global Sales for ArcSoft who had also headed North American sales for both Samsung and Ricoh. Noted industrial designer Takeyoshi Kawano will be the company’s chief designer. Kawano’s design credits include the Sony Walkman, the Sony VAIO computer and the Olympus Stylus camera series.

General imaging G series

General imaging G series cameras - 12 Megapixel
“Style will play an important part in our product development,” Kawano noted. “Consumers are demanding not just advanced features but stylish designs. We’re responding to that demand with cameras that are a statement of style and at the same time have all the latest technology.” According to Kawano, advanced features such as image stabilization, high ISO sensitivity, and panoramic stitching will be standard on ALL models. “With advanced features like this on all our cameras, it will be difficult to take a bad photo,” he said. “GE cameras will literally change the quality of pictures for today’s consumers.” Entry-level GE digital cameras will start with 7 megapixels of resolution and 2.5 inch LCD screens. Higher end GE cameras will offer up to 12 megapixels of resolution and 3 inch LCD screens. A photo printer will also be included in the line.

GE digital cameras - PMA debut
The GE digital cameras will make their debut at the annual Photo Marketing Association trade show, March 8-11, in Las Vegas. Cameras will be available in North America from mid April. Shipments to Europe and Asia are scheduled for later this year. Buhay believes that response to the new camera line from retailers and consumers alike will be overwhelming. “I’ve been in the electronics fi eld for many years, and the GE cameras are like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” he said. “Our aim is to be Number 1 in all aspects - quality, technology, performance and value - and these cameras will do that.”

General imaging cameras - Hiroshi Hugh Komiya
Going back to the top: The story of General Imaging. Hiroshi “Hugh” Komiya had already been at the pinnacle of business. He spent nearly three decades with Bridgestone Firestone, the global tire company. Then it was on to the camera business, where he worked for Olympus Corporation for more than a decade, culminating in his tenure as President of Olympus Imaging Corporation. Not a bad record, to be sure. He retired on June 29, 2005, at the age of 63, and like retirees the world over, he soon had a lot more time to perfect his golf swing.

General Electronics digital cameras - Olympus imaging
And that was nice for a while. But the kind of drive that gives Komiya his greatest thrill doesn’t come from a tee shot. It comes from a business challenge met and conquered. It’s the drive behind the entrepreneurial spirit, the drive of ingenuity, the drive of one who has seen the inside of a big corporation, learned from it, and dreamed of a better way. Mindful of the constant state of change in the consumer camera fi eld, Komiya had advocated “execution at 4 times speed” during his time with Olympus. In other words, the efficiency with which top-quality products were designed and produced was doubled - and then doubled again. By 1996 he had increased Olympus’ global camera market share to the top position of more than 20% in three years.

General imaging Gseries compact camera
As time passed, Komiya became convinced that an uncommonly nimble new company could extend this paradigm even further. He spoke with old friends - salespeople, engineers, manufacturers, and others - and soon this new company, General Imaging, began to materialize. Komiya fi rst recruited Rene Buhay, a dynamic personality and natural salesman who had worked for Ricoh and who eats, sleeps and breathes electronics. Over coffee Komiya recruited a highly respected designer who had just retired from Olympus, Takeyoshi Kawano, and asked him to create a sophisticated camera line loaded with all the best features in the industry. Masayuki “Mike” Arakawa, a sales and fulfillment luminary with a long history at Ricoh, joined the team to lead sales in the growing Asian market.

General Electronics consumer electronics - Digital camera
Komiya’s dream took a dramatic turn toward reality in mid-2006 when he learned that General Electric, one of the world’s largest business conglomerates, was exploring the digital camera space and looking for a licensee to carry the GE brand. A deal was inked in September. Komiya’s vision with General Imaging is to set an extraordinary new standard for the industry: maximum value creation at 10 times speed. It means the ultimate, most up-to-date camera, sold for a great price. It means innovation without pause. And it means a company that stays a step ahead of shifting market demands. The formation of General Imaging came about remarkably fast, Komiya says, but the pieces are all in place for a return trip to the pinnacle. “I’m confi dent that we have what it takes to succeed,” he says. “I have the right camera, the right team, the right brand and the right business model.”

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