More color from the WSJ:
"Eighty-year-old Canon Inc. Chairman Fujio Mitarai, a bulwark of Japan Inc. for the past two decades, said Wednesday that he was stepping back from day-to-day leadership of the maker of cameras and printers for a second time.
Mr. Mitarai said he would yield the post of president—roughly equivalent to the role of chief executive in the U.S.—to make way for Masaya Maeda, senior managing director, on March 30. Mr. Maeda, who is 63, spent a large part of his career in Canon’s imaging operations."
Sales ticked up 2.0 percent to 3.80 trillion yen, the company said. "Demand for digital cameras with exchangeable lenses faced severity due to weak emerging market currencies and China's slowing economy," it said in a statement. "Demand for compact cameras also declined as the market shrank." The cheaper yen was partly responsible for an increase in operating cost, it also said. Maeda "has a great track record as the head of the business division", Mitarai told a press conference today, the Nikkei business daily reported.
Not that these statements are surprising, but it starts to make their expensive acquisition of Axis seem more logical (or desperate, depending on your viewpoint).
Sales of "traditional" cameras in the form of DSLR's and point-n-shoot cameras are dropping, due to the ubiquity of perfectly adequate cameras on every smartphone these days. I know I haven't touched my Canon 5D in about a year, and only now use it for "purposeful" shots.
CCTV does appear to be going through a growth phase in terms of units deployed and segments reached. The popularity and acquisition of Dropcam is an example of this. Canon is hoping that Axis/Milestone will carry them into the next phase of mainstream imaging. This would also indicate, to me, that the Axis and Milestone names will go away, or become product names of Canon instead of independent brands.
The corresponding Lars-Martin phone call would have been informational.
"This would also indicate, to me, that the Axis and Milestone names will go away, or become product names of Canon instead of independent brands."
Canon has been around for over 80 years. In that time they done very few acquisitions, the Axis and Milestone deals dwarf all their previous deals by a huge margin (to the extent you can even determine this, other money spent on acquisitions was so small there is barely any info).
Actually there was the purchase of Oce in 2009, a company valued at 1.1 billion by the offer. Smaller than the Axis deal certainly, but far bigger than the Milestone. Also Canon was smaller itself at the time.
Axis and Milestond MUST be folded into Canon. They have to go away and new products need to be released that incorporate the technology of these companies, but under the Canon brand, and under the appearance that the products were the result of Canon's engineering.
Again, in the case of Oce, Canon said at the time of the acquisition that would continue as its own brand.
As of 2016, Oce is still run with its own branded products, and same HQ and executives. It has over 20,000 employees and last year's sales were 3 billion.