Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Free-Fall Continues...

After a year spent walking back vague statements made by their CEO hinting that Olympus was thinking about exiting the commercial camera business, Olympus announced that they are, in fact, exiting the commercial camera business.
Olympus said it improved cost structure, focused on high-profit cameras and lenses and took other steps to “cope with the extremely severe digital camera market.” Despite those efforts, however, the company said it “recorded operating losses for three consecutive fiscal years up to the term ended in March 2020.”

Olympus had been struggling even before the jump to digital; while their pocket line of 35mm P&S cameras were well regarded, the move to autofocus SLRs in the '90s left the OM line an increasingly niche product: All manual cameras that still appealed to some for their compact size and high-quality M. Zuiko lenses.

They were fast to get into digital, and it looked to give the company a second wind, but they struggled to find a niche in the digital camera world. With the collapse of the point-'n'-shoot market they were left with their bread and butter: compact, retro-styled mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras.

Unfortunately, it seems that the benefits offered by the little Micro Four Thirds sensor, namely a small, lightweight camera with compact lenses, aren't outweighing the desires of the dwindling market, which is lusting after bigger sensors. Full-frame is the future and in the camera market's game of musical chairs, it appears there's only one chair for "retro-styled hobbyist mirrorless cameras with smaller-than-35mm sensors", and Fuji's sitting in it.
[T]hey targeted their later range of mirrorless cameras at a middle market - "people who weren't serious photographers - they wanted something better than a point-and-shoot camera, but they didn't want a DSLR camera".

"That market very very quickly got swallowed up by smartphones, and turned out not to exist."

The market for standalone cameras has fallen dramatically - by one estimate, it dropped by 84% between 2010 and 2018.
The company to which they're selling the camera division swears up and down that they're going to streamline the business and continue to advance and support it. But they said that when they bought Sony's VAIO computer division, too, and when's the last time you saw one of those at Best Buy?