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Nikon D70, D70s and D50 digital SLR output boost
Ilse Jurriën : July 13th 2005 - 11:15 CET
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NikonNikon D70, D70s and D50 digital SLR output boost : Japan's Nikon Corp. is considering boosting production capacity at its digital single lens reflex camera factory in Thailand to meet rapidly growing demand, a company executive said on Thursday. In an interview with Reuters, senior managing director Makoto Kimura said the company was mulling a plan to enlarge its Thailand factory, which employs about 10,000 workers and produces most of Nikon's digital SLRs sold worldwide. Boosting sales of digital SLRs is central to Nikon's strategy of shifting away from the low end of the market, where pricing pressure is fiercest. Digital SLRs fetch higher profit margins and allow Nikon to leverage its lens technology and long history in film SLRs.
Nikon D70, D70s and D50 digital SLR output boostDigital SLR market raises
Including cameras from Canon, Pentax Corp. and others, Nikon expects the entire digital SLR market to reach 4.0 to 4.5 million units in the year to March 2006, up from 2.76 million units sold in the prior financial year. Kimura's comments come one day after Nikon began selling the D50 in Japan. The D50 is a new digital SLR that industry watchers expect to sell very well as it is cheaper than previous models and a similar model launched by Canon earlier this year.

Nikon D50 - Strong demand
The new Nikon D50 camera was launched in overseas markets earlier this month. At one retailer in Tokyo the D50 is selling for just under 90,000 yen ($815.4) body only, and slightly below 110,000 yen when sold with a lens. In an early indication of strong demand, Kimura said Nikon will have shipped nearly 200,000 units of the D50 by the end of June. The company's initial plans are to make 140,000 D50s each month at its Thailand plant.

Boost the capacity of their Thailand plant
The global market for digital SLRs should rise above 4 million this year and continue to grow," Kimura said. "Basically, we need to boost the capacity of our Thailand plant, although we have not yet decided the timing and size of the investment." Kimura said the bulk of the investment would go toward manufacturing equipment but the company would also need to hire more staff. After Canon Inc., Nikon is the world's second-largest maker of digital SLR cameras, which use interchangeable lenses and generally offer higher performance than simple point-and-shoot models, which have a fixed lens.

Nikon and her future
The camera world had been anxious to see when Nikon would launch a new line-up of digital SLRs to follow the D70, a relatively inexpensive model that has been flying off the shelves since it was introduced in early 2004, the Nikon D70s. Analysts are bullish about the prospects for the digital SLR market because of the recent increase in lower-priced models like the D50 and D70. Just a few years ago there wasn't a model on the market for less than $2,000, and some cost $5,000 or more. Nikon aims to ship 1.6 million digital SLR models in the business year started April 1, up 52 percent year-on-year. Including compact models, the company expects to ship 7.6 million digital cameras, up from 6.6 million in 2004/05.

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