They are an innovative, but generally conservative company that has slowly, over decades, built themselves up to become the market leaders in a highly competitive and at times very crowded field.
Canon has been innovative exactly 2 times in all of their history. They started out as a an utterly un-innovative japanese copy cat of german cameras and remained jist that for the first 30 years of their history.
The 2 innovative feats were:
* 1987 ... ditch the FD mount and bring a fully electronic , new mount: EF. they did not listen to theri ultra-conservative user base who were crying over their nice FD SSC lenses. Canon for once did, what was necessary: radically break with the past. Screw mechanical crap in the lens mount. Make it all electronic. Choose a good flange diostance and make the freaking hole large enough to enable all sorts of great lenese, including "still affordable" f/1.2 lenses and carry them into the electronic and then digital future. That move along with the parallel decision to put AF into the lens, not the body and quickly recover from their initial AF disaster [T80 anyone? ;-) ] and their ability to sell the advantages of that concept really well, got them to trump Nikon and become market leader.
* 2003 - digital Rebel - first truly affordable DSLR ... under 1k €/USD. Preceded since 2000 by the decision to use CMSO sensors, when everybody else thought of CCDs to be a way better solution for imaging sensors. Agaion preceded by the unrewarding mucking around in the 1990 with Kodak (all that DCS crap) -... which convinced Canon that they needed full control over the entire digital camera stuff, including their own sensor fabs. Those desicions got Canon massive market leadership in the first half of the 2000's decade.
Unfortunately bold, true innovation has ceased quite rapidly after after that and Canon today is an arrogant, fat, bloated japanese corporation run by a typical geriatric ward. Risk-averse down to theri last toenail. Slow, bureaucratic and encrusted. It will take quite some pain (= a copule of catastrophic balance sheets) to bring them to their senses and back onto the innovation track. Abandon DSLRs (except 1 series for people who really need those to hammer nails into walls and drop behind behind enemy lines and use 600/4 superteles handheld all day long) and fully embrace mirrorless. One great APS-C lineup - good EF-M lenses are there and the EOS-M has the right size and just needs a good upgrade and expansion (EVF, AF, battery charge). Plus ditching of the EF mount and a new, kick-ass Sony A7 killing compact line of ultra-capable FF mirrorless bodies and new native lenses. The desicion does not take that many guts as the one back in 1987, since the flange distance wil be shorter this time round, so cheap adapters without any optical elements will suffice to ease the transition.