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Canon Continues to Lose Focus


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Canon (CAJ) doesn't normally appear on my radar as an investment opportunity but fate brought us together last week.

My investment thesis in a moment, but first let me tell you how Canon came into my purview. I bought three Canon Rebel cameras. Not all at once, but starting with a 35mm SLR more than 15 years ago, moving up to the first Canon Digital EOS Rebel from Sears (SHLD) about 13 years ago, and finally a Rebel T4i about two weeks ago.

I can't say I enthusiastically bought the last T4i. I was excited about the first digital Rebel. Taking pictures without buying film was exciting. Now the situation is quite different. Today we have Google's (GOOG) Android, Apple (AAPL), BlackBerry (BBRY), and Microsoft (MSFT) Windows smartphones with double digit megapixels arriving.

Purists will point out that smartphones haven't reached the quality of dedicated cameras because hardware is more crucial than software for image quality. A bigger lens allows more light in, but for the average person, is there a noticeable difference? For me, the answer is shifting closer to no. After my Canon Digital Rebel died (hardware malfunction) I pondered the question and it came down to the ability to use a telephoto lens.

Other than pictures using a telephoto lens, my smartphone is my preferred camera. Today two of my sons wore Greg Jennings jerseys. I took my smartphone out of my pocket and took their picture. A quick push on the screen and it's now on Facebook (FB). In less than two minutes, I went from deciding to take a picture until it was live on Facebook. If I used my digital Rebel, the undetectably better picture would take more than 15 minutes to move from the camera to the computer and uploaded into Facebook. After adding the time wasted reading my friends' postings, adding comments, and clicking "Likes," what could be a quick smartphone process turns into an hour or more gone, never to return. It doesn't matter though; the Canon Camera wasn't a choice.

My Canon T4i died within 10 days after I received it. At first I wasn't worried because I lived in Japan for two years. I know what Japanese customer service is, and if you haven't been to Japan, you have missed out because it's the customer service gold standard.

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