Nikon Corp., known for its cameras and optical equipment, is embarking on a corporate transformation that might make it less of a household name and more of a supplier of components to other businesses.

"Most people think of us as a camera company, but historically when we were founded we supplied parts for other companies,” Chief Executive Officer Toshikazu Umatate said in an interview. Now, the line between business-to-consumer and business-to-business activity "isn’t as clear anymore,” he said.

Founded in 1917, the manufacturer almost single-handedly brought accessible high-quality cameras to the masses, joining the ranks of Sony Corp., Toyota Motor Corp. and other brands that made Japan the world’s second-biggest economy in mere decades from the rubble of war. But the rise of smartphones and more advanced chipmaking technology — where Nikon once was a leader — has taken its toll on revenue, which has shrunk by roughly 50% from a 2013 peak of ¥1 trillion.