Olympus Has Fallen – Gets Out of Camera Business

June 24th, 2020
Olympus Has Fallen - Gets Out of Camera Business

Olympus CEO Yasuo Takeuchi today announced that the company will sell its imaging business after recording operating losses for three consecutive fiscal years. The new owner of the OM-D and ZUIKO brands, Japan Industrial Partners (JIP), wants to restructure and maintain the imaging business. The deal should be closed by the end of this year.

Olympus sells its Imaging business. Source: Unsplash.com/Olympus

Olympus has been in the camera business for a very long time, 84 years to be exact. The company’s Imaging business started with the manufacture and sale of a camera using photographic lens ZUIKO in 1936. In the more recent history, Olympus has been at the forefront of the mirrorless camera market, and along with Panasonic they started and maintained the Micro Four Thirds ecosystem.

Although for most filmmakers, Olympus cameras have probably never been a number one choice, the OM-D brand of cameras has become really popular among many photographers. The last new camera announcement from Olympus was the OM-D E-M1 Mark III in February 2020. Olympus’ Micro Four Thirds m.ZUIKO lenses, on the other hand, are in some regards even more suitable for filmmaking than Panasonic M4/3 lenses and many filmmakers use them with their LUMIX bodies.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III Announcement. Source: Olympus

Olympus Sells its Imaging Business

The truth is that Olympus is a large company and they have been earning most of their money in other fields – selling medical, scientific, and industrial systems. In fact, the company has been subsidizing its Imaging business for the last three years. As Olympus writes in the published Signing of Memorandum of Understanding for Divestiture of Imaging Business:

Olympus has implemented measures to cope with the extremely severe digital camera market, due to, amongst others, rapid market shrink caused by the evolution of smartphones; Olympus has improved the cost structure by restructuring the manufacturing bases and focusing on high-value-added interchangeable lenses, aiming to rectify the earning structure to those that may continue generating profit even as sales dwindles. Despite all such efforts, Olympus’s Imaging business recorded operating losses for 3 consecutive fiscal years up to the term ended in March 2020.

Therefore, the company will sell its Imaging business including the OM-D and Zuiko brands, and will only focus on its other key business fields.

The new owner of Olympus’ Imaging business is the JIP – Japan Industrial Partners – the same company which bought Sony’s VAIO PC business in 2014. The aim is that JIP restructures the Imaging business, makes it more compact, efficient, and agile, and continues both the OM-D and ZUIKO brands.

NewCo (new company owned by JIP – editor’s note) will succeed and maintain the research and development functions and manufacturing functions globally as reformed under the contemplated structuring reforms to continue to offer high-quality, highly reliable products; and also continue to provide supports to the imaging solution products that have been distributed by Olympus.

It seems that current Olympus customers don’t have to worry about support for their products, it remains to be seen, however, how exactly the future of OM-D cameras and ZUIKO lenses will look.

It is clear that smartphones are eating up more and more from the camera market and I am afraid we might see more camera companies getting in serious financial trouble in the future. The slower world economy hit by the upcoming “Coronavirus recession” might speed developments up even more.

Do you use Olympus cameras or ZUIKO lenses? How do you think the future of OM-D and ZUIKO brands will look like? Let us know in the comments underneath the article.

Links: Olympus, TheVerge, Engadget

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Emmanuel Pampuri
Emmanuel Pampuri
GuestJune 24th, 2020

What a sad news !
Their IBIS is still the best on the market !
Latest photo / lens manufacturer company to disappear was Minolta but all their technology was bought by Sony … who’s next ?
I hope Pentax is strong enough! (https://t.co/fKPJyIMB4g)

Sanjay Bajaj
Sanjay Bajaj
GuestJune 25th, 2020

[email protected] my love with Olympus started with mju series of analogue film cameras to sell them was a kind of love affair very passionately telling the features and functions after that their superzoom cameras and the wheather proof features was yet another exclusive selling point when they came into digital Camera too they’ve been all along maintaining exclusivity be it PEN OMD or tough my love affair continued forever and will do it ahead too

Álvaro Ortiz
Álvaro Ortiz
GuestJune 24th, 2020

Sad news. Really sad news. I wish it was just a “pause” and not a full stop

sanjay bajaj
sanjay bajaj
GuestJune 25th, 2020

?

Nick Lam
MemberJune 25th, 2020

I knew it got bad when a local filmmaker in my city won the Olympus film competition and sold his winnings immediately on craigslist: OMD-EM1 Mark II + Olympus Pro 12-100 F4 lens.

 Tim Shoebridge
Tim Shoebridge
MemberJune 26th, 2020

Very sad news, but the writing has been on the wall for a while. Yes of course smart phones are changing the market very rapidly and destructively, but I don’t think Olympus really innovated enough in the last few years – ie. fundamentally the same sensor in the EM1ii, EM1X and now EM1iii, the same EVF, same LCD etc. It’s those basic specs that people take notice of, not things like handheld hires shooting (which for me is a genius innovation). And of course Olympus were late to the party regarding video, such a shame as I think the cinema 4K video in the latest EM1 cameras looks fantastic, it’s an ideal travel camera.

This news makes you wonder how many other manufacturers are currently making a loss or continuing to bail out their imaging divisions the way Olympus has been…. :(

Markus Kaiser-Mühlecker
Markus Kaiser-Mühlecker
GuestJune 24th, 2020

Was fur eine Headline ?

john
john
GuestJune 25th, 2020

smartphone, again and again ….
waiting for speed booster lens, make unique product for this smartphone .

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