GE enters digital photography market; General Imaging named exclusive worldwide licensee
NEW YORK (Feb. 13, 2007) – Already one of the most trusted consumer brands in the world, GE will soon become one of the hottest names in high-quality digital still cameras.
GE and corporate newcomer General Imaging Co. announced today that the two companies have reached an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement by which General Imaging will design, manufacture and distribute an all-new line of GE-branded digital cameras.
“We were seeking to enter the digital camera arena and found a perfect partner,” said Brad Irvine, GE President of Trading and Licensing. “The cameras from General Imaging are truly worthy of the GE name, representative of GE’s leadership in technology and innovation.”
General Imaging Co. Chairman and CEO Hiroshi “Hugh” Komiya said the GE brand comes with instant credibility.
“GE is a brand that consumers around the world know and trust,” he said. “This is a brand known for innovation and technical leadership. We fully intend to deliver on the GE brand promise and even further enhance the GE brand value.”
Headquartered in Torrance, California, General Imaging brings together an all-star cast of photo industry veterans. Komiya is a former president of Olympus Imaging Corporation.
Leading sales efforts in North America will be Rene Buhay, a former Vice-President of Global Sales for ArcSoft who had also headed North American sales for both Samsung and Ricoh. Noted industrial designer Takeyoshi Kawano will be the company’s chief designer. Kawano’s design credits include the Sony Walkman, the Sony VAIO computer and the Olympus Stylus camera series.
“Style will play an important part in our product development,” Kawano noted. “Consumers are demanding not just advanced features but stylish designs. We’re responding to that demand with cameras that are a statement of style and at the same time have all the latest technology.”
According to Kawano, advanced features such as image stabilization, high ISO sensitivity, and panoramic stitching will be standard on ALL models.
“ With advanced features like this on all our cameras, it will be difficult to take a bad photo,” he said. “ GE cameras will literally change the quality of pictures for today’s consumers.”
Entry-level GE digital cameras will start with 7 megapixels of resolution and 2.5-inch LCD screens. Higher-end GE cameras will offer up to 12 megapixels of resolution and 3-inch LCD screens. A photo printer will also be included in the line.
The GE digital cameras will make their debut at the annual Photo Marketing Association trade show, March 8-11, in Las Vegas. Cameras will be available in North America from mid-April. Shipments to Europe and Asia are scheduled for later this year.
Buhay believes that response to the new camera line from retailers and consumers alike will be overwhelming.
“I’ve been in the electronics field for many years, and the GE cameras are like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” he said. “Our aim is to be Number 1 in all aspects – quality, technology, performance and value – and these cameras will do that.”
For more information go to www.ge.com/digitalcameras.
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Going back to the top: The story of General Imaging.
Hiroshi “Hugh” Komiya had already been at the pinnacle of business. He spent nearly three decades with Bridgestone Firestone, the global tire company. Then it was on to the camera business, where he worked for Olympus Corporation for more than a decade, culminating in his tenure as President of Olympus Imaging Corporation.
Not a bad record, to be sure. He retired on June 29, 2005, at the age of 63, and like retirees the world over, he soon had a lot more time to perfect his golf swing.
And that was nice for a while. But the kind of drive that gives Komiya his greatest thrill doesn’t come from a tee shot. It comes from a business challenge met and conquered. It’s the drive behind the entrepreneurial spirit, the drive of ingenuity, the drive of one who has seen the inside of a big corporation, learned from it, and dreamed of a better way.
Mindful of the constant state of change in the consumer camera field, Komiya had advocated “execution at 4 times speed” during his time with Olympus. In other words, the efficiency with which top-quality products were designed and produced was doubled - and then doubled again. By 1996 he had increased Olympus’ global camera market share to the top position of more than 20% in three years.
As time passed, Komiya became convinced that an uncommonly nimble new company could extend this paradigm even further. He spoke with old friends - salespeople, engineers, manufacturers, and others - and soon this new company, General Imaging, began to materialize.
Komiya first recruited Rene Buhay, a dynamic personality and natural salesman who had worked for Ricoh and who eats, sleeps and breathes electronics. Over coffee Komiya recruited a highly respected designer who had just retired from Olympus, Takeyoshi Kawano, and asked him to create a sophisticated camera line loaded with all the best features in the industry. Masayuki “Mike” Arakawa, a sales and fulfillment luminary with a long history at Ricoh, joined the team to lead sales in the growing Asian market.
Komiya’s dream took a dramatic turn toward reality in mid-2006 when he learned that General Electric, one of the world’s largest business conglomerates, was exploring the digital camera space and looking for a licensee to carry the GE brand. A deal was inked in September.
Komiya’s vision with General Imaging is to set an extraordinary new standard for the industry: maximum value creation at 10 times speed. It means the ultimate, most up-to-date camera, sold for a great price. It means innovation without pause. And it means a company that stays a step ahead of shifting market demands.
The formation of General Imaging came about remarkably fast, Komiya says, but the pieces are all in place for a return trip to the pinnacle. “I’m confident that we have what it takes to succeed,” he says. “ I have the right camera, the right team, the right brand and the right business model.”
Hiroshi “Hugh” Komiya
Chairman and CEO
Hiroshi “Hugh” Komiya is one of the premier names in the global imaging industry, having mastered the trade during an 11-year tenure in top leadership positions with Olympus Corporation. After nearly 30 years with the Bridgestone Firestone tire company, Komiya joined Olympus in 1994 as the General Manager of Corporate Planning. By 1996 he had become the General Manager of Global Sales and Marketing of the camera business, doubling Olympus’ global camera market share to the top position of more than 20% in three years. In 1997 he was appointed to the corporation’s board of directors. Komiya continued to rise through the executive ranks, and in 2004 he became the first President of Olympus Imaging Corporation when the parent company spun off the imaging business as an independent company.
After retiring from Olympus, Komiya devoted himself to golf, but his retirement was short-lived. In the summer of 2006, he created General Imaging and recruited a talented team of industry veterans to join him in building his new company.
2004-2005: President of Olympus Imaging Corporation
2003-2004: Senior Managing Director of Olympus Corporation
2001–2003: Managing Director of Olympus Corporation in charge of the imaging business
1998–2001: Chairman and CEO of Olympus Hong Kong and China
1997: Became a Board member of Olympus Corporation
1996–1998: General Manager of Global Sales and Marketing of the Olympus camera business
1994–1996: Joined Olympus Corporation as General Manager of Corporate Planning
1991–1994: Director of Bridgestone and Firestone of America Inc., Nashville, Tenn.
1989–1991: Director of North America Operations Division for Bridgestone Corporation
1987–1989: General Manager of Global Business Integration of Bridgestone and Firestone
1986–1987: General Manager of North American Manufacturing Project at Bridgestone
1986: Manager of President’s Office of Bridgestone Corporation
1982–1986: Vice President of Bridgestone America Inc., in charge of Marketing, Los Angeles
1980–1982: Manager of Bridgestone’s North America Sales and Marketing
1965–1980: Various positions with Bridgestone Tire Company
BA in Political Science and Economics from Waseda University, Tokyo
Vice President of Value Creation Center
Takeyoshi Kawano, who joined the General Imaging team in the fall of 2006, is one of the giants of industrial design in the electronics field, having played a key role in the look and functionality of many of the world’s best-loved household devices. Kawano and his creative design teams have been responsible for such groundbreaking products as the Sony Walkman, the Sony Betamax VCR, the VAIO personal computer, Aiwa brand products, and Olympus’ Stylus series digital camera. “I have strived to make the GE camera unlike any other on the market,” he says. “Our products will have a consistent strength of identity that conveys style and sophistication, yet honesty and familiarity.”
2003-2006: Design Division Manager for Olympus Corporation, in charge of the design of Consumer Products (The µ-series [Stylus Series] of digital cameras) and all Olympus-branded medical products.
2000-2003: Sony Group – Executive Design Division Manager, Sony Group – Aiwa Co. Ltd. Led the design of all Aiwa-branded products.
1990–2000: General Manager of Sony Design Center. His excellence as designer recognized by Sony’s top brass, Kawano was promoted to GM at the age of 40, a rare feat. Managed the PMC (Personal, Mobile and Communication) Category Design Group, which included the VAIO PC, cellular phones, camcorders and car stereos.
1978–1990: Industrial Designer, Sony Design Center. Designed the Walkman, Radio Walkman, Betamax VCR and home audio set stereos.
1969–1978: Industrial Designer, Panasonic Design. Designed transistor radios and the HES (Home Entertainment System), which was a big hit in the U.S.
Ikuei Technical College, Industrial Design Department, Tokyo
Vice President of Sales–North America
Rene Buhay brings to General Imaging an outstanding track record of more than 18 years in achieving results. He has extensive sales and marketing experience in OEM, retail and distribution channels, with over 10 years in the digital imaging business.
2003-2006: President of Newport Technology, a consulting firm that specializes in sales channel strategies and market development, which has generated over $100 million in revenue for his clients. Manufacturer clients included APEX, Philips and Ricoh; customer clients included major retailers and distributors in North America.
2000-2003: VP-Global Sales for ArcSoft, a leading provider of digital imaging software. Responsible for worldwide licensing of digital imaging software to manufacturers of digital cameras, scanners, PDAs, printers, DVDs, and mobile phones.
1999–2000: Director of ISP/Retail Sales for Samsung Telecommunications America-Broadband Network Terminal Division. Responsible for all sales of cable modem product line to OEM, retail, RBOC (Regional Bell Operating Company), CLEC (Competitive Local Exchange Carrier) & ISP (Internet Service Provider) sales channels in North America.
1995–1999: National Sales Manager for Ricoh’s Consumer Products Group. Established a national sales team and successfully launched Ricoh’s digital camera and CD-R/RW media product line to retail and distribution channels in North America.
EARLIER POSITIONS HELD: Director of Sales & Marketing for Antec Inc., a leading components manufacturer; National Sales Manager for AECS Corp.
BA in Economics from Ateneo de Davao University (Philippines)
Executive MBA from Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business
Executive Program in Structuring a Sales Force, Northwestern University, Kellogg Graduate School of Management
Executive Management Program in Telecommunication, University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business
Executive Program in Competitive Marketing Strategy, University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School
GE, the brand that has sparked interest for nearly 130 years.
The name General Electric has stood for innovation and excellence since the company’s founding. That was when American inventor and business pioneer Thomas Alva Edison merged his Edison General Electric Co. with the Thomson-Houston Co., creating what would become one of the largest corporate entities in history.
From home appliances to aircraft engines, from impact-resistant plastics to lasers, GE is recognized around the world for delivering technologically advanced products that improve the way we live and work. Fortune Magazine has ranked GE as “America’s Most Admired Company” for six of the past eight years.
With such a reputation, GE-branded products automatically attract attention – and that translates into sales. A survey of U.S. consumers last year showed that more than 3 out of 4 respondents (76%) considered the brand an important part of the purchase decision, and an identical percentage said they would be interested in buying a GE digital camera.
Last September, Thomson Inc., a GE licensee and the world’s number 1 supplier of residential telephones, became the first to bring Digital Enhanced Cordless Technology, or DECT, to America with its new GE line of phones. The DECT 6.0 line has already received strong support from most of the major consumer electronics retailers across the country, and strong early sales are helping GE maintain its top spot in the unit category.
Many GE licensed products have been listed as Consumer Reports “Best Buys” in recent years.
The bottom line is, the GE name is golden – for consumers and for retailers.
IMAGINATION AT WORK FOR NEARLY 130 YEARS.
For nearly 130 years GE has produced countless innovations for individual consumers and major industrial applications. Electric fans, steam turbines, toasters, electric locomotives, radio and television broadcasts, programmable digital clock radios and a vast array of other products all trace their roots to this remarkable company.
These are but a few of the notable accomplishments created through the imagination of GE.
Thomas Edison invents the carbon filament incandescent lamp in his lab at Menlo Park, NJ.
General Electric makes its first foray into the world of imaging when GE’s Elihu Thomson builds electrical equipment for the production of X-rays.
GE scientist Katharine Burr Blodgett invents non-reflecting “invisible” glass, which becomes the prototype for coatings used today on virtually all camera lenses and optical devices.
Medical imaging takes another step forward. A computed tomography scanner (or CT scanner) developed by a team from GE’s Research and Development Center and the Medical Systems Division takes detailed cross-section X-ray pictures of the human body in less than 5 seconds - four to 60 times faster than other total body scanners in use.
With the world’s first 4D Ultrasound System, GE announces a new generation of ultrasound imaging with the GE Voluson 730. The Voluson 730 provides more information and better image quality than ever before.