We want to overtake Hewlett-Packard in printers to become No 1 …

India might have moved to digital photography but demand for photo printing is still on the rise, says Canon India, which launched South Asia’s first commercial inkjet photo printer in Bangalore earlier this week. The company is bullish on the segment and aims to increase market share from 30 per cent now. Kazutada Kobayashi, president and chief executive officer, spoke to Itika Sharma Punit about the company’s plans for the country.Edited excerpts:

Do you think there is enough demand for prints in today’s digitised world?

The high-end printing market is expanding. Even experts have said Indians spend a lot of money on wedding events, which is one of our largest target for such products. We have launched this product in Bangalore and I think initially we will stick to this market. After evaluating the reaction, we will gradually expand. Though metro cities have a higher percentage of our target audience, we will look to expand into upcountry (smaller towns) in a few years.

How do you view the competition in India against other Asian countries?

India is obviously an interesting market. Prior to this assignment, I was working in Hong Kong for three-and-a-half years. In Hong Kong, the reach of cameras in households is over 200 per cent. So, having two or three cameras for every house is nothing special there. Compared to that, India is an emerging market. So, we believe in India, we can bring the new photo culture, both for devices and solutions.

What are Canon’s growth plans in India?

We have a very good balance of business between the business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) segments in India; the two are divided nearly fifty-fifty. We want to increase our presence in the B2C segment. So, after the launch of our DreamLabo commercial inkjet photo printer, we are looking at launching another line of cameras. In the B2B segment, we are planning to offer more solutions for enterprises. We are not limiting ourselves to just selling copier machines and other products but are looking at consulting business.

What kind of consulting business?

We have helped companies print so many papers in the past. So, now we think it is our duty to offer some solution for what to do with all those documents? It is a legal requirement that some documents must be stored and kept for seven to 10 years. So, we are looking at how to digitise and store these. We are looking at paper archival digitally; a huge bundle of papers could be condensed or squeezed into a small box and tagged or indexed well, so that it could be accessed any time.

What market share you are targeting in the printer and camera segments?

In cameras, we want to have a healthy confidence. We currently have about half of the market in the digital single-lens reflex (dslr) cameras. So, I don’t think we are aiming at a 70-80 per cent share in that market. We want to rather focus on expanding the market size itself. In printers, we currently have 30 per cent market share and we want to catch up with Hewlett-Packard (which is currently the leader with nearly 50 per cent market share) and we want to become the number one.

What do you think of the regulatory environment in India?

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) certification that is happening in India now is not something unusual. Other countries such as the US and Hong Kong already have such policies in place. So, there is no worry in meeting the regulations. However, the only issue is the procedure is a bit complicated. The information flow from the government bodies to industry is not always clear. I feel India is going through birth-hiccups as this is the first time they are introducing such a standard and asking vendors to comply. So, I hope in any subsequent launches of regulatory orders, if and when those happen, the process would be smoother. I expect the radio frequency regulation to come up next and I hope India will be more friendly for vendors then.

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