Olympus continued to deny persistent rumors that it planned to exit the camera business. However, on June 24 the company confirmed that it will sell its camera business to Japan Industrial Partners (JIP). JIP is the same firm that acquired Sony’s VAIO PC division.
The company now plans to focus most investments on its bigger business of supplying industrial and medical imaging equipment. Olympus explained that it took all the necessary measures trying to cope with the severe digital camera market. Despite all the efforts, the company said:
“We recorded operating losses for three consecutive fiscal years up to the term ended in March 2020.”
It did not help that the company combated a $1.7 billion accounting scandal in 2013 as reported by Engadget.com. For now, it is unclear what will happen to the company’s mirrorless cameras that include the flagship O-MD E-M1 Mark III.
JIP plans to streamline the new business as it did with VAIO taking all necessary measures to make it more efficient, compact, and agile. Moreover, it will sell the existing camera models and replace them with new ones, according to Olympus. Thus, it would expectedly support the current Olympus owners.
In 2019, Olympus CEO Yasuo Takeuchi mentioned that a sale of the consumer camera division was possible. But, the company painstakingly tried to take that comment back at some point telling the users to count on them.
Analysts say that the company lacked innovation on its O-MD E-M1 III flagship camera compared to other manufacturers. It is always a significant indication that a company wants to shun a certain product when it stops creating new product technology.
This sale has some implications for the global camera market. Panasonic and Olympus are the only manufacturers that support the Micro Four Thirds format. That is a sector that lags way behind APS-C and full-frame systems.
The bigger sensors are categorized as better while using the camera in low light. In these conditions, the sensors produce soft “bokeh” backgrounds. These capabilities distinguish Sony’s products from the increasingly excellent and enhanced smartphone cameras.
Olympus still uses Micro Four Thirds for its interchangeable lens cameras. But, Panasonic has now designed its full-frame mirrorless cameras that have attracted massive demand from the video market.
The new Panasonic products give the company options subject to what happens to Olympus. Following all the legal procedures, the Olympus sale is expected to conclude by September 3, 2020.