German business newspaper Handelsblatt is reporting [translated to English] that, as part of a restructuring process, Leica will eliminate up to 100 jobs at the company's headquarters and add up to 40 new ‘digital experts’ to push forward its smartphone and computational photography technology.

According to Handelsblatt, Leica's restructuring is due to ‘profound changes in the market.’ Leica CEO, Matthias Harsch, is quoted as saying ‘We are facing the second digital revolution in the camera business,’ an obvious nod to the market's movement away from dedicated cameras to smartphone cameras.

Leica CEO Matthias Harsch

In addition to the recent controversy surrounding the ‘Tank Man’ advertisement that caused an uproar last month, Handelsblatt also notes Leica's partnership with Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei as a potential cause of worry at Leica. Huawei, who has partnered with Leica to put its camera technology in Huawei devices, is reported by Reuters to have lost its licensing of Google's Android operating system as a part of restrictions put in place by the U.S. government amidst security concerns of Huawei devices.

Despite the uncertainty of Huawei's future, Harsch sounds confident the partnership will remain beneficial and further states the significant role smartphone photography will play in Leica's business going forward, saying:

‘The camera function with smartphones is a core business of our future [...] After all, thanks to their smartphones, people have never photographed as much as they do today.’

An illustration of the Leica triple-camera system inside Huawei's P30 smartphone.

Harsch also specifically notes the growing role of artificial intelligence and computational photography in digital images. Leica has been working alongside Huawei for the past four years, developing both the hardware and—arguably more importantly—the software used for mobile image capture and processing. He says ‘These experiences [developing smartphone cameras technology] can be used for the further development of our classic cameras.’

Evidence of Leica's interest in becoming a leader in computational photography is backed by the news that it will be hiring up to 40 experts in the field, investing a ‘double-digit million amount,’ according to Handelsblatt.