Kazuo Kashio, the third of four brothers who co-founded Casio Computer Co., Ltd. in 1957, died on June 18 at age 89. Each of the four brothers played a key role in the company, with the late Mr Kashio taking charge of sales and marketing. In 1988 he ascended to the company presidency after the death of his elder brother.
Established as a maker of electronic calculators – an early hit was the low cost Casio Mini calculator – the company now makes digital cameras (it pioneered the display on the camera’s back), electronic keyboards as well as watches, which account for about 40% of its turnover. But its most famous product is the impact resistant G-Shock wristwatch, invented in 1983 by engineer Kikuo Ibe and championed by Mr Kashio, who was succeeded by his eldest son, Kazuhiro, at the helm of Casio in 2015.
In its early years the G-Shock only sold well in a handful of markets, most notably the United States, but dogged marketing of its toughness, as well as its affordability – which stood in contrast with then prevailing idea of watches being fragile and precious – eventually made it a global hit. The G-Shock has gone on to become the world’s bestselling watch, having crossed the 100m unit mark last year.
And while low-cost competitors have eroded the business of Japan’s electronics giants, Casio’s specialised products, ranging from printing calculators to synthesiser keyboards, have retained their niche. Its sales last year rose 9%, and in the current fiscal year, Casio aims to lift revenue by 20% to US$3.8 billion – while setting an all time record for G-Shock sales of 10 million units, buoyed in part by 35th anniversary models like the Full Metal.
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