Correction: NOT WSJ but Yahoo Finance: Olympus one of 10 brands to disappear in 2014

Started May 26, 2013 | Discussions thread
teseg
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Re: Correction: NOT WSJ but Yahoo Finance: Olympus one of 10 brands to disappear in 2014
In reply to tgutgu, May 27, 2013

tgutgu wrote:

Unfortunately, folks at the m4/3 forum and m4/3 owners are a bit blindfolded. While I think the article exaggerates a bit, its reasoning is nonetheless sensible.

Despite participating in a new, for a while emerging market (mirrorless cameras) the camera division of Olympus is not profitable since many consecutive years. Such a situation cannot continue for another long while without consequenses.

Due to a false mirrorless stategy (PEN only for three years) and only one camera model, which received true excitement (E-M5) m4/3 did not bring Olympus' camera division, where Olympus hoped it would be by now. One high-priced best seller is not enough to get out of the mud.

Additionally, Olympus still does not appear being willing or able to fulfill its customers demand: a rangefinder style camera with build-in view finder. As nice as the E-P5 looks, it does not represent another winner as the E-M5 was.

Mirrorless sales have flattened and more vendors have attractive mirrorless offerings, with Olympus needs to compete with. DSLR still rules the sales and as such there is no wonder that Canon and Nikon remain as the only camera vendors with profits.

So far Olympus in particular (with Panasonic nothing better) could not convince the masses of enthusiast hobby photographers and professionals, why they should buy m4/3 instead of DSLR or at least m4/3 as a secondary system. Sure, quite a bit of customers have bought mirrorless, but the trend is not as strong as it was, indicating some saturation.

Advertisement does not play on the stronghold of m4/3: small system with good IQ. During writing this post, I look at an Olympus advertisement of the E-P5: it says: "Beautiful sharing with integrated WIFI" (translated from German). As if no DSLR is able to do this.

Especially Olympus is not well represented here in Germany, where customers want to look at cameras: local dealers. Salesmen usually don't recommend Olympus and some important local dealers do not stock Olympus at all. After almost four years of being on the market, you don't see a lot of Olympus m4/3 cameras in the field, at least less than one would expect (on a recent photographic festival, I could just spot two E-M5), given the attention it grabs.

I don't think that mirrorless really fulfills Olympus' expectations and it is not likely that it can pull Olympus camera business out of the mud.

Therefore, I don't find it unrealistic to forecast that Olympus camera division will go under the umbrella of another big vendor or - worst case - disappear, at least if the current situation continues.

I am a quite happy E-M5 owner, but I can also see the dark clouds on Olympus skies.

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Thomas

I agree this article is a surfacy bean counter assessment.   But two of the more critical bucket of beans to count - profit trends and share trends. When I try to see the "vision" of their camera department, they look to be "all in" with m3/4.  One then needs to step back and assess where the market is going, where should a middle of the road sensor size platform position itself?  For me, that means volume, volume, volume (which ultimately equates to growing, not shrinking share).... Which typically means lesser quality (but good enough for the masses) and low price.

Higher IQ in smaller body platforms will continue to be a growing trend and m3/4 will forever have a hand tied behind its back vs. APS-C and FF sensors for the high end quality play, just thinking through the physics of it and considering Sony is the sensor driver for all 3 segments, especially as far as Olympus is concerned.

What the economic numbers from the article tell me is Olympus needs a strategic shift, which will either work out or it won't.  If they continue as-is their share performance will continue to dwindle.  Their brand will not miraculously be discovered by the potential consumer if they do not change approach.

Hopefully Olympus is about to launch a game changer, but I see it being nearly EM-5 quality at 75% the price vs. EM-5 + with enhanced capabilities at 125% of the price.  In other words they need to establish themselves as THE entry level brand above the phone segment, which also means taking out the Nikon 1 brand in particular, no small task.

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