Thom Hogans post summary on 43 rumors

Started Feb 14, 2011 | Discussions
tgutgu Veteran Member • Posts: 3,956
Thom Hogans post summary on 43 rumors

43 rumors posted a summary of several of Thom Hogan's posts in their news report about Olympus' economic problems.

No discussion about it here yet?

It is funny that Mr. Hogan voiced nearly exactly the same concerns, I have expressed here in various posts: one of the problem is Olympus' undecisiveness regarding its product strategy (4/3 or not 4/3?) and its too narrow approach to the m4/3 system. Coupled with product releases, where the benefit wasn't clearly seen, as the new stuff could (and should) have been already in the first release - the technology was there and available.

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Thomas

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amalric
amalric Forum Pro • Posts: 10,839
Re: Thom Hogans post summary on 43 rumors

Frankly I find Hogan's discussion one of his worst. Americans obsess with short term results, takeovers and the like.

Oly didn't do as well as in 2009, but it had to weather the storm, abandoning most of its dSLR sales.

A point that Hogan makes, and I agree with is poor marketing. But that's true for the US and Europe. Mirrorless in Japan did very well, and Terada said that they expect the same in the Asian dragons.

So I think it's far too soon to expect the demise or buyout of Oly. Certainly 2011 will be a watershed fo Oly's survival, but that true of all small camera companies.

This is also the first year Oly will introduce high tier body and lenses, so it will probably recover some of its dSLR customers.

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Adventsam Veteran Member • Posts: 4,983
Re: Thom Hogans post summary on 43 rumors

Oly are in "stop-gap" mode, no doubt about that, is it enough to take them through or will they collapse further? Honestly, they are in a real mess camera wise and are showing very little innovation(that doesnt mean what they are doing is bad it just means they arent converting many new customers) but if they are turning a profit, then everything is fine and the stop-gap can hopefully see them through, but if they arent and they are hemouraging cash and losing market share with little chance of pulling it back then the situation is pretty bad for Olympus digital!

tgutgu wrote:

43 rumors posted a summary of several of Thom Hogan's posts in their news report about Olympus' economic problems.

No discussion about it here yet?

It is funny that Mr. Hogan voiced nearly exactly the same concerns, I have expressed here in various posts: one of the problem is Olympus' undecisiveness regarding its product strategy (4/3 or not 4/3?) and its too narrow approach to the m4/3 system. Coupled with product releases, where the benefit wasn't clearly seen, as the new stuff could (and should) have been already in the first release - the technology was there and available.

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Thomas

OP tgutgu Veteran Member • Posts: 3,956
Re: Thom Hogans post summary on 43 rumors

amalric wrote:

Frankly I find Hogan's discussion one of his worst. Americans obsess with short term results, takeovers and the like.

Oly didn't do as well as in 2009, but it had to weather the storm, abandoning most of its dSLR sales.

The problematic thing is that the Imaging department has consecutive losses since many quarters with an increasing tendency. The tendency is unfortunately against the general econmomic trend.

A point that Hogan makes, and I agree with is poor marketing. But that's true for the US and Europe. Mirrorless in Japan did very well, and Terada said that they expect the same in the Asian dragons.

So I think it's far too soon to expect the demise or buyout of Oly. Certainly 2011 will be a watershed fo Oly's survival, but that true of all small camera companies.

This is also the first year Oly will introduce high tier body and lenses, so it will probably recover some of its dSLR customers.

Knock on wood!

Am.
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Thomas

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Mr.NoFlash Senior Member • Posts: 2,368
Re: Americans obsess with short term results, takeovers and the like

amalric wrote:

Frankly I find Hogan's discussion one of his worst. Americans obsess with short term results, takeovers and the like.

I agree.

Lets say it this way, Oly had within 2 years made a completely new product category.

Making this costs money, which in the beginning eats the profit, thats quite natural.

But what will be probably the effect of some losses, is that Oly might now stop expanding into new areas, and focus on the PEN.

In my opinion, marketing is not the problem, the problem is that the AF speed of the PEN's ( at leasts those who are responsible for oly's result ) was lacking. Further improving here would be a good idea, obviously the E-PL2 is on the right track regarding this.

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Kikl Contributing Member • Posts: 986
Re: Thom Hogans post summary on 43 rumors

tgutgu wrote:

43 rumors posted a summary of several of Thom Hogan's posts in their news report about Olympus' economic problems.

No discussion about it here yet?

It is funny that Mr. Hogan voiced nearly exactly the same concerns, I have expressed here in various posts: one of the problem is Olympus' undecisiveness regarding its product strategy (4/3 or not 4/3?) and its too narrow approach to the m4/3 system. Coupled with product releases, where the benefit wasn't clearly seen, as the new stuff could (and should) have been already in the first release - the technology was there and available.

The way I read Thom Hogan's post is that oly lacks a clear direction and innovation. They've largely abandoned 43 and only pen cameras are left. They should embrace m43 now with everything they've got.

"The whole E-P1/E-P2, E-PL1/E-PL2 thing was a big mistake in almost every respect..."

O.K. this is an exaggeration, but slightly updating the pen cameras over time and giving them a new name just isn't enough.

"...Okay, I’ll stand slightly corrected, the GH2 does push forward from the GH1 in a number of clear ways. But Olympus isn’t there yet. The longer the time between the four look-alikes and something significantly new, the bigger the problem for Olympus."

This is it. Olympus must produce different bodies for the m43 standard - possibly a semi pro body for m43 with fast autofocus and frame rates. At the same time, the more lenses should be released.

bunfoolio Regular Member • Posts: 389
Re: Thom Hogans post summary on 43 rumors

I think Thom's artice makes some good observations and I am not happy to hear that Olympus is not doing well becaseu I plan on buying the E-pl2. Good thing lenses and bodies are interchangbel in the M4/3 format. With good managemnet they can solve the strategy and Marketing issue. The camera divison will have to get smaller before it gets bigger. I would drop most of the P&S camera's because phones will take a lot of that business down the road any way. Put all the resources in the M4/3 basket and come put with a pro style camea with primes. If that does not work its time to put it up for sale while it has some value.

Franka T.L. Veteran Member • Posts: 8,143
Olympus bestow this upon themselves

In general, and principle its hard not to agree with the guy.

Olympus do made some fine product, but so far, they are all trying this and that, and not actually delivering a SYSTEM. Well they had good success with the original PEN ( film camera ) and OM because they had a vision, a directive, and work at providing a viable and good product lineup on that. With 4/3 they try, they falter , then they just quit. With M4/3 it looks more like they are sitting, standing and just watching ( grass to glow under their own feet when others moves on ). I can understand that they simply lack the sensor to further the platform, but that's only the sensor part. They could go off and give us decent lens, variety of lens and better camera or at the very least not another iteration of the same camera.

Panasonic at the very least had G, GF, and GH

Sony had NEX but also the SLT and DSLR to complement

Now we shall await the rumored High End Nikon Mirrorless, and the 2 rumored Pentax Mirrorless, as well as Samsung going tio give us some decent lens lineup. Rest assure Canon is there lurking and just about to let us know about it. Fujfifilm and even Sigma might be on the sideline looking for coming in too.

I've maintained, M4/3 had a head start, and been having an advantage, but that advantage is not easy to keep. Panasonic been trying hard to keep it, where Olympus is just .... ... I think its simply a case of the Mfr needing to wake up to the fact that they cannot simply ask the customer to buy their ware and deliver the profit before they actually having a lineup that can do that. In the end.

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ogremage Contributing Member • Posts: 959
Re: Thom Hogans post summary on 43 rumors

I think key is that we don't know what Olympus is doing in the background.

Maybe they are working on a pro modular m43 camera which they will then use to bring 43 and m43 together and thus stop making any 43 lenses or cameras, but still not annoy existing 43 users too much.

Maybe they are procuring better sensors from Kodak, Fuji, Sigma, etc.

Maybe they are successful in talks with Panasonic to license GH1/GH2 sensor and are working on a higher end camera that incorporates it.

We don't know. All we see is that right now their latest products, while very nice entry level cameras, use an older sensor, and thus they have no high-end offering in view.

That doesn't mean they are sleeping at the wheel and have no revolutionary products in the pipeline.

We could argue that a lot of companies have not produced anything revolutionary lately. I mean, who has?

Sony has produced very nice sensors, and put them in very popular NX and less popular but still innovative SLT cameras.

Pentax and Nikon have rehashed their DSLRs but with new Sony sensors in them. Good for them.

Panasonic have rehashed their m43 cameras and the GH2 is quite nice and the GF2 is quite small. And they are mirrorless, so good for them.

Canon has rehashed their DSLRs and had good financial results despite some loss in market share in key locations.

Samsung apparently has failed to attract any more companies to the NX and has managed to lose SK but is trying to duke it out alone, having announced a semi-interesting lens line-up. They have also somehow managed to get quite poor IQ from an APSC sensor (proving that sensor size is just one minor factor in the game).

My point is that only Sony have really done something innovative last year, but even with all that are a long ways away from producing a complete and attractive mirrorless system.

Does Olympus need to get their act together? Yes, they do. But so do many others.

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exdeejjjaaaa
exdeejjjaaaa Veteran Member • Posts: 8,263
Re: Americans obsess with short term results, takeovers and the like

Mr.NoFlash wrote:

Lets say it this way, Oly had within 2 years made a completely new product category.

which category is that ? m43 was created by Panasonic

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Dan Clark Senior Member • Posts: 2,703
Marketing IS the problem

Whether you call them Product Management or Product Marketing, it IS a marketing issue. You've defined the need for faster AF speed in the PEN's. While it's the engineering folks to design and implement this, it is the Marketing folks who define the need and cost/benefit balance.

I think Thom nailed it - Marketing is a problem for Olympus and Panasonic. While Panasonic may be marginally better, I would rate them both as poor.

The problem with marketing departments at most big, technologically-oriented companies is that the marketing people come from two sources - sales people who no longer want to sell and engineers who no longer want to engineer. The sales people understand how to sell what is already developed, but typically know squat about defining technical requirements and communicating them to engineering. The engineers understand how a product is designed, but have little understanding of business and the importance of meeting customers' needs (separating their own opinion from market reality).

I was in sales and marketing for 14 years at DEC. Virtually all of marketing people fell into those categories. Those few of us who succeeded accepted that we knew nothing about the opposite side - we assumed that we were ignorant and worked hard at learning what was necessary. The vast majority of marketing people never make this effort.

Most of my opinion comes from having watched Panasonic's marketing missteps much more than Olympus. I think both companies need to get their marketing people more in touch with what customers want. That can be tough, especially when your customers who are located world-wide, with different attitudes and needs.

Regards,

Dan.

Mr.NoFlash wrote:

amalric wrote:

Frankly I find Hogan's discussion one of his worst. Americans obsess with short term results, takeovers and the like.

I agree.

Lets say it this way, Oly had within 2 years made a completely new product category.

Making this costs money, which in the beginning eats the profit, thats quite natural.

But what will be probably the effect of some losses, is that Oly might now stop expanding into new areas, and focus on the PEN.

In my opinion, marketing is not the problem, the problem is that the AF speed of the PEN's ( at leasts those who are responsible for oly's result ) was lacking. Further improving here would be a good idea, obviously the E-PL2 is on the right track regarding this.

pablolie Contributing Member • Posts: 638
Re: Thom Hogans post summary on 43 rumors

Olympus' business result do absolutely nothing as to how much enjoyment I take out of Olympus' gear in M43. And whether Olympus is around or not in 3 years (which I am pretty sure they will, btw) is immaterial as well - it's not like I invested a fortune into M43 and I can go into any direction I pick at any point in time without missing a heartbeat.

In the meantime, I think the E-P2 is absolutely brilliant when combined with the EVF. I have fun with it, and that's all that matters.

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Bob Tullis
Bob Tullis Forum Pro • Posts: 33,461
Re: Thom Hogans post summary on 43 rumors

pablolie wrote:

Olympus' business result do absolutely nothing as to how much enjoyment I take out of Olympus' gear in M43. And whether Olympus is around or not in 3 years (which I am pretty sure they will, btw) is immaterial as well - it's not like I invested a fortune into M43 and I can go into any direction I pick at any point in time without missing a heartbeat.

In the meantime, I think the E-P2 is absolutely brilliant when combined with the EVF. I have fun with it, and that's all that matters.

I concur.

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Mr.NoFlash Senior Member • Posts: 2,368
Re: Americans obsess with short term results, takeovers and the like

exdeejjjaaaa wrote:

Mr.NoFlash wrote:

Lets say it this way, Oly had within 2 years made a completely new product category.

which category is that ? m43 was created by Panasonic

it was defined by both (regarding the standard) and the main effort, developing the products, was made by both without the help of the other company.

The only point you have, is, that Panny was faster in developing the m43 products ( while Oly made m4/3 and 4/3 products ).

The foundation to m4/3 was laid by both companies, by making faster-CDAF-able DSLR lenses for their dslrs. This "faster cdaf able" design was the basis for the idea to leave the mirror away.

Obvioously Panny is a bit better in achieving really fast CDAF

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SkiHound Senior Member • Posts: 2,917
Re: Thom Hogans post summary on 43 rumors

ogremage wrote:

Maybe they are procuring better sensors from Kodak, Fuji, Sigma, etc.

I really wonder what Olympus is trying to do regarding sensors? The E5 and Pens have much going for them and we can argue that more mp isn't necessarily better. But it is a spec that seems to drive camera sales. The basic 12mp sensor they've been using has been around a while and they really are not on par with the sensors used in the current APS-C competition -- at least not with respect to performance at high isos. I've read somewhere that Panasonic had no current plans to share the GH2 sensor with Olympus. I don't know if that's true but if it is it certainly raises questions about what sensors might be used in future Olympus cameras. You have to figure they can only go so far with that sensor technology.
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sderdiarian Veteran Member • Posts: 4,229
Re: Thom Hogans post summary on 43 rumors

ogremage wrote:

I think key is that we don't know what Olympus is doing in the background.

Maybe they are working on a pro modular m43 camera which they will then use to bring 43 and m43 together and thus stop making any 43 lenses or cameras, but still not annoy existing 43 users too much.

Maybe they are procuring better sensors from Kodak, Fuji, Sigma, etc.

Maybe they are successful in talks with Panasonic to license GH1/GH2 sensor and are working on a higher end camera that incorporates it.

We don't know. All we see is that right now their latest products, while very nice entry level cameras, use an older sensor, and thus they have no high-end offering in view.

That doesn't mean they are sleeping at the wheel and have no revolutionary products in the pipeline.

They should have the resources, as they certainly didn't spend much of their R&D budget on the E-5 (an E-3 with tweaked E-PL1 sensor/processor and flip LED, not even the XZ-1's OLED). Same for the E-PL2, largely an E-PL1 that went to a styling clinic and got an upgrade to the 2 1/2 year old G1 LCD.

They're current line can be boiled down to:

  • 4/3's: E-5 as last of the breed, painful but true

  • mFT: E-PL2 (and, for now, an aging E-P2)

  • Compacts: XZ-1 as their flag bearer and their just introduced SZ-10 slender superzoom, VR-330 compact superzoom and VG 110/120 budget compacts

A sound and manageable line-up, but missing a full featured mFT with built-in EVF, tilt OLED, AF assist, etc. Such a camera would lend credibility to their claim mFT's can replace the E-620.

If they focused just on marketing these well, and later adding a more pro-featured mFT, I think they could get back on track.

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Harold66
Harold66 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,948
let's not forget ...

ogremage wrote:

Ist one minor factor in the game).

My point is that only Sony have really done something innovative last year, but even with all that are a long ways away from producing a complete and attractive mirrorless system.

I think Ricoh has to be added to that list and possibly a few others

Harold
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Harold66
Harold66 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,948
Re: Thom Hogans post summary on 43 rumors

I think that alltogether , the comments of Thom Hogan are well founded

But I think two of the big reasons for being pessimistic for the future m4/3rd standards is the association with Panasonic for the sensors and the fact that Oly after more than 2 years is still only addressing the entry-level users market

In order to sell entry level prices when you want to promote a brand or a system , you need to also have higher end products. This is true of ANY consumer oriented goods

Harold
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TrapperJohn Forum Pro • Posts: 16,486
with all due respect...

Thom Hogan has been predicting the death of Olympus since around 2004, even when the E500 and E620 were selling well and boosting the bottom line. Seven years later, his prediction just happens to coincide with tumbling earnings. Wisdom or happenstance? I leave it to the individual to judge that one.

I suspect their current woes relate to getting out of the low end dslr market in a less than graceful manner. Personally, I think it was inevitable - consumer tastes are changing, and the low end dslr in general is not doing well. Let's not forget, Panasonic did the same thing about two years ago when they orphaned the L1 and L10 at about the same time Leica orphaned the digilux 3, and they didn't get hammered for that. Still, how much would it have cost to retool the E620 with EPL2 innards? A lot less than the bad publicity that ensued.

However, that's hindsight. The EPL2 got a very good review. Especially in the jpeg arena, where most of its buyers like to operate, it even gives the mighty 7D and D7000 some serious competition, even as the ISO edges upward. They're doing quite well in a new and exciting photographic field, especially with those tiny zooms, and it now appears that at least one high grade M43 lens is on the way, which hopefully coincides with a high grade M43 body. So they're not dead by any stretch.

Ironically, an E620 with EPL2 performance, probably would have sold very well. Tough economic times put the E5 beyond a lot of people, (just as it put the D3x beyond a lot of people, too) and current 5xx/6xx owners are not turning to the EPL2, but to other brand dslr's that don't really perform much if any better than the EPL2, in terms of features that most of us actually use. Perhaps with the new CEO, this might actually happen.

Let's just hope they learned from that mess.

mfbernstein Veteran Member • Posts: 6,518
Doing well?

TrapperJohn wrote:

Thom Hogan has been predicting the death of Olympus since around 2004, even when the E500 and E620 were selling well and boosting the bottom line. Seven years later, his prediction just happens to coincide with tumbling earnings. Wisdom or happenstance? I leave it to the individual to judge that one.

I suspect their current woes relate to getting out of the low end dslr market in a less than graceful manner. Personally, I think it was inevitable - consumer tastes are changing, and the low end dslr in general is not doing well. Let's not forget, Panasonic did the same thing about two years ago when they orphaned the L1 and L10 at about the same time Leica orphaned the digilux 3, and they didn't get hammered for that. Still, how much would it have cost to retool the E620 with EPL2 innards? A lot less than the bad publicity that ensued.

However, that's hindsight. The EPL2 got a very good review. Especially in the jpeg arena, where most of its buyers like to operate, it even gives the mighty 7D and D7000 some serious competition, even as the ISO edges upward. They're doing quite well in a new and exciting photographic field

Define 'quite well'. A 50% drop in sales (not profits, sales) in North America, year-over-year and a 30% drop in Europe is just about the opposite of 'well.' Those were the markets that used to account for 2/3 of Olympus Imaging sales.

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