Olympus u4/3rds... who is considering it? What are your reqs?

Started Jun 1, 2009 | Discussions thread
Thom Hogan
Thom Hogan Forum Pro • Posts: 13,660
Re: The real question is: .....

Chez Wimpy wrote:

Who knows, it might
even be the start of the end for the conventional fourthirds SLRs?

If they start selling m43 in numbers near the potential market (as a
second system to Nikon/Canon/Sony/Pentax/Olympus users on the go, and
a first system to the "compact or forget it" crowd), Olympus will
have very little incentive to keep plowing uphill - just for the sake
of it.

In opportunity comes danger. Let's assume for a moment that the m4/3 Oly is perfect. Perfect camera, perfect lens selection. My expectation is that Oly would sell out of them almost immediately. I'm guessing that they're not betting the farm on this product, so they might have modestly aggressively build goals. A perfect camera will exceed those. It'll also give Oly the first real burst of significant growth and market share change they've had in a long time.

So what's wrong with that? The problem is mimicry, amongst other things. The Panasonic G1 already has some heads turning at Canon and Nikon (and maybe Pentax and Sony). It already had the attention of Samsung. Any real and continued success of the m4/3 siblings (G1 and EP-1) will simply make it inevitable that we get mAPS. And then we're back to all the same things as before: the smaller sensor size choice has as many liabilities as it does strengths.

The real issue for all the camera companies now is building platform and differentiation at a time when everything is being commoditized. I do not believe Oly (or Nikon for that matter) can win with commodity products against consumer electronics giants. They just don't have the economies of scale. That means that product differentiation and higher end features become more important to them. What I've seen is that some breakthrough success in a more consumer level product tends to distract high-end companies: they end up spending too much effort trying to defend turf they won't hold and losing everything. Thus, the danger. Oly has a long, proud history of accomplished products done compactly. They need to fully flesh that into brand again. A perfect m4/3 helps, but it isn't the full solution.

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Thom Hogan
author, Complete Guides to Nikon bodies (19 and counting)

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