Olympus has announced that they are intending to sell their camera imaging division to Japan Industrial Partners (JIP).
Olympus said that despite its best efforts, the "extremely severe digital camera market" was no longer profitable. The arrival of smartphones, which had shrunk the market for consumer cameras, was one major factor, it said. It had recorded losses for the last three years.
Olympus had invested in the Micro Four Thirds system and produced a line of cameras aimed at serious amatuer photographers and also younger, new photographers. However, smartphones with increasingly capable digital cameras, many with a choice of lenses and increasingly high megapixels, have taken a higher proportion of that market share.
It is not just Olympus that have felt the squeeze. The major camera producers are all having to adapt their product line to continue to be profitable. For example, Nikon and Canon have launched their line of full-frame mirrorless cameras. Many manufacturers are also taking the opportunity to attract hybrid shooters - those who take video as well as still photographs, such as Sony and Fujifilm, appealing to You-Tubers and vloggers.
Whilst it is sad to see Olympus making this move, it is hoped that JIP will be able to do something positive with Olympus cameras, e.g. launching new products or specialising. Perhaps they will slim the business down and sell it on so that the brand continues to thrive.
Olympus have always been known for producing very capable cameras with fine optics. They have been leaders in design and proved that compact cameras can produce professional results. Back in the 1970's they produced cameras like the OM1; a jewel of a camera with superb build quality and fine optics from Zuiko.
And of course they sold millions of compact cameras with the same ethos as the OM system. The Trip 35 was one of the cameras produced in the highest volumes for the longest time; 1967 - 1984. Olympus have lots of dedicated fans and we are always surprised and thrilled to see how many young photographers are buying our Trips.
Whatever happens, there will always be support for the brand. It will be possible to have Olympus cameras repaired and serviced for many years to come. Here at Trip Man, it is our mission to ensure that the Trip 35 continues to provide years of active service. We have just launched our own servicing and repairs in addition to our camera sales. So Olympus will continue to live on with millions of people who own and cherish their beautifully-made cameras.
For a more detailed explanation of the transfer of Olympus cameras to JIP, have a look at Tony and Chelsea's Channel.