South Korean consumer electronics giant Samsung Electronics Co is taking aim at its Japanese rivals with an Android-powered digital camera that allows users to swiftly and wirelessly upload pictures to social networking sites.
The Galaxy camera lets users connect to a mobile network or Wi-Fi to share photographs and video without having to hook up the camera to a computer.
While it’s not the first to the market, Samsung’sfinancial and marketing clout suggest it could be the biggest threat to Japanese domination of a digital camera industry which research firm Lucintel sees growing to $46 billion by 2017 and where big brands include Canon Inc, Sony, Panasonic, Nikon and Olympus.
“Samsung has a tough row to hoe against the likes of Canon and Nikon in the camera brand equity landscape,” said Liz Cutting, senior imaging analyst at research firm NPD Group. “Yet as a brand known more in the connected electronic device arena, Samsung has a unique opportunity to transfer strength from adjacent categories into the dedicated camera world.”
The Korean group, battling for mobile gadget supremacy against Apple Inc, is already a global market leader in televisions, smartphones and memory chips.
Samsung last year brought its camera and digital imaging business – one of its smallest – under the supervision of JK Shin, who heads a mobile business that generated 70 percent of Samsung’s $7.4 billion third-quarter profit.
“Our camera business is quickly evolving … and I think it will be able to set a new landmark for Samsung,” Shin said on Thursday at a launch event in Seoul. “The product will open a new chapter in communications – visual communications,” he said, noting good reviews for the Samsung Galaxy camera which went on sale in Europe and the United States earlier this month.
AIMING AT ‘PRO-SUMERS’
The Galaxy camera, which sells in the United States for $499.99 through AT&T with various monthly data plans, features a 4.8-inch (12.2 cm) LCD touchscreen and a 21x optical zoom lens. Users can send photos instantly to other mobile devices via a 4G network, access the Internet, email and social network sites, edit photos and play games.
The easy-to-use camera, and the quality of the pictures, is aimed at mid-market ‘pro-sumers’ – not quite professional photographers but those who don’t mind paying a premium for user options not yet unavailable on a smartphone – such as an optical, rather than digital, zoom, better flash, and image stabilisation.