* Nikon to launch mirrorless camera by year-end-Nikkei
* Price to be $900-$1,300, in line with rivals-Nikkei
* Launch will put pressure on rival Canon
* Nikon shares rise 2.6 pct; up 10 pct in 3 days
By Keiichiro Murayama
TOKYO, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Shares in Nikon Corp rose for the third straight day on Friday, after market speculation about the company’s launch of its first mirrorless camera was boosted by a report in the Nikkei newspaper that the new product would be on the market by the end of the year.
Rivals including Sony Corp , the world’s second largest camera maker, have already launched similar models, which pack some of the advantages of a professional-style interchangeable-lens model into a smaller body.
But Nikon and Canon Inc , the two dominant suppliers of professional-style single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras have stayed on the sidelines, unclear whether the segment would take off, and whether it would cannibalise sales of existing models.
The Nikkei said Nikon will price its new mirrorless product at 70,000 yen-100,000 yen ($900-$1,300) including lens, which is on par with rivals’ offerings and also with conventional SLR cameras. A spokesman for Nikon declined to comment.
The paper did not give any other details of the product.
“Some people see this as a negative in terms of profits, because the companies that have already launched similar products are thought to be making losses,” said Ryosuke Katsura, an analyst at Mizuho Securities in Tokyo.
“But those launches were limited in terms of region and numbers. Nikon will be launching across the globe and they should be able to benefit from more economies of scale,” he said.
Some analysts have also cautioned that the lack of optical glass technology in mirrorless cameras, a Japanese strength, would make it easier for South Korean manufacturers to gain the upper hand in one of the few high-tech industries still dominated by Japan.
Samsung Electronics launched its first mirrorless camera in September 2010.
The launch will raise the pressure on Canon, which is considering its own mirrorless model, the head of the camera division told Reuters in July.
Nikon’s shares ended 2.6 percent higher in a broader market down 0.6 percent. The shares have jumped about 10 percent in the past three days, while Canon is up only about 1 percent over the same period and Sony has gained 2.3 percent.
Nikon said last month it expected unit sales of digital SLR cameras to jump 26 percent in the year to March 2012 to 5.4 million units, instead of its May forecast of a slight gain.
The company also said it expected compact camera sales to rise by 9 percent to 15.5 million units and sales of interchangeable lenses to grow 20 percent to 7.6 million units. (Reporting by Isabel Reynolds and Reiji Murai in Tokyo and Aman Shah in Bangalore; Editing by Anshuman Daga)