October 11, 2006 – Yesterday, Canon celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Canon PowerShot ELPH product line at a press conference at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Canon, yesterday, also launched the PowerShot SD900 Digital ELPH Coach Edition Gift Set that will retail for $549.99 when it becomes available at the end of the month.
Canon has a long history of marketing their ELPH cameras as fashion accessories. The Canon-Coach collaboration follows previous Canon commissions for other Coach-designed ELPH camera cases. The new PowerShot SD900 Digital ELPH Coach Edition Gift Set, coming just in time for the holidays, includes the 10 megapixel PowerShot SD900 camera. The kit features a black leather camera case with the signature designer label "C" for Coach. The kit also includes a Coach metal neckstrap, a wrist strap with a chrome snap, a 32 MB SD memory card, and a rechargeable Li-ion battery pack and charger. The gift set is a limited edition offer, according to Canon’s press release yesterday.
At the press conference, Sass Brown with the Fashion Institute of Technology spoke on the role of the Canon ELPH cameras in the fashion industry since its birth 10 years ago.
Since the first analog ELPH camera was launched in May 1996, 33 million Canon ELPH units have been sold with 22 million of those being digital ELPH cameras since its introduction in 2000.
The Canon ELPH cameras were to replace ordinary looking cameras and transform them into fashion accessories, changing them from "geek chic to tech couture," according to the Canon release. The digital ELPH cameras, starting with the 2.1 megapixel PowerShot S100 ELPH in May 2000, were to be the ultimate outfit add-on. The ELPH was to be "a camera that could be attached to an elegant neck chain and wore like an item of jewelry, or slipped slimly into a blazer breast pocket in lieu of a silk hanky," stated the release.
The target audience for the ELPH was the clubbing crowd. "It was decidedly not enough for a camera to take great pictures," stated the release. "The camera had to make them look great taking the pictures."
In 1997, one year after the first ELPH was introduced, Canon launched a commemorative ELPH model in honor of Canon’s 60th anniversary. The camera was made from an 18-carat gold body, complete with a golden remote control with 30,000 units produced.
One Canon product, the 4 megapixel PowerShot SD10 Digital ELPH, was even introduced at New York’s Fashion Week 2003, modeled on the catwalk by costume designer Patricia Field as part of "Canon-Couture," according to the release.
The Canon ELPH cameras came with a variety of designs to appeal to the style-conscious. The ELPH bodies are made from stainless steel, over Canon’s traditional aluminum alloy bodies. The ELPH cameras also come in multiple color options with fancy names. Most recently, the SD40 that was launched in September is available in Twilight Sepia, Olive Gray, Precious Rose, and Noble Blue.
The ELPH cameras also have a Canon-specific body design as such with the current "Perpetual Curve" layout. The camera design evolved from an initial "box-and-circle" design by Yasushi Shiotani. Inspired, oddly enough, by road signs, the initial ELPH blueprint went through 100 sketches and ended up being a universal concept for camera design. "When you give anybody a piece of paper and ask them to draw a camera, they will draw a box and a circle," said Shiotani in the release. "This is the most simple, iconic image of a camera that exists in everyone’s mind," said Shiotani.
When the ELPH went digital, designer Seiichi Omino altered the design by moving the circle off-center to accommodate the new hardware. The ELPH eventually evolved into the present day "Perpetual Curve" design that consumers see on the recent PowerShot SD900 and SD800IS.
Canon boasts that not only is the ELPH fashionable, but the camera takes its place ahead of other manufacturers. In 2004, 20 million digital cameras were sold worldwide. Of those, 12.7 million were Canon cameras, according to the release, making it the majority brand in consumer point-and-shoots.
"Virtually overnight, the camera-buying public made Canon’s ELPH not simply the photo industry’s top selling compact camera, but far and away, the clearly dominant camera in the new Advanced Photo System (APS) format," stated a Canon release yesterday. Called the IXY in Asia and the IXUS in Europe, the ELPH cameras make up one-third of all APS format cameras, according to the release.
The most popular of the ELPH models is the PowerShot SD400, which has sold nearly 2 million units since its introduction in October 2004, according to the release.
At the conference, Canon also launched a sweepstakes where 10 entrants will win a trip to New York City for the Z100 Jingle Ball 2006 concert in Madison Square Garden. The winners will also receive a customized bejeweled Canon PowerShot Digital ELPH camera.