Nikon is best known as one of the world's leading manufacturers of DSLR and SLR cameras and photographic lenses (the latter under the Nikkor brand name), but it also makes electronic components, microscopes and precision lithography and measurement instruments. Although highly regarded by professionals, Nikon's camera business lost money for several years until the boom in digital imaging led to the introduction of its range of very successful Coolpix models, aimed at ordinary consumers. It remains the world's #3 in digital still cameras behind Sony and Canon, but fierce competition from high-end smartphones has begun to erode all traditional camera sales since 2012. That decline has been partly offset by a surge in revenues from components and instruments, but the future of Nikon's cornerstone camera business looks increasingly bleak. Revenues for the year ending Mar 2020 were the equivalent of around $5.4bn, the lowest figure in Japanese yen since 2004. Imaging products - mainly cameras and lenses but also binoculars - accounted for 38% of sales, slipping behind precision equipment for the first time. Indeed, revenues from imaging products have more than halved in just five years. Toshikazu Umatate is president. The company is an affiliate of the Mitsubishi business group. It was formed in 1917 from the merger of three Tokyo lens manufacturers under the name Nippon Kogaku. During the 1930s, it adopted the brandname Nikkor for the camera lenses it was making for the government, its principal client, and then the Nikon brand on camera bodies from 1946. The move into components came with the growth of the semiconductor industry in the 1980s, became Nikon's biggest business throughout the 1990s until overtaken again by cameras in 2002.
Capsule checked 6th November 2020
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