I spent last week in Japan.
Japan is a key market for Air since digital cameras are an important piece of our go-to market strategy – and Japan leads the World designing and building cameras.
Shortly before departing I heard that Panasonic had announced 15,000 job losses worldwide. This comes hot on the heels of job cuts from Sony (16,000), NEC (20,000), Hitachi (7,000) and many others. Japan clearly is not immune from the current worldwide economic crisis, and on top of waning consumer confidence the strength of the yen is twisting the knife for electronics manufacturers in Japan.
So it was with a slight sense of dread that I boarded the plane.
However, it turns out that the reality is subtly different from the doom and gloom that I expected. Nobody is happy with the current situation – of course – and every business is suffering. However, especially for Japanese companies, tough market conditions put even greater pressure on R&D to innovate. If the market is stagnating or shrinking then maintaining or growing share is an imperative and innovation is a key weapon to achieve this.
Perversely then, the current economic turmoil is potentially delivering us a favour. More pressure to innovate means that our target customers are a little less risk-averse. The prospect of trying new technology from a start-up might just deliver the edge that they need.