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Re: [OM] Olympus quits camera business after 84 years - BBC News

Subject: Re: [OM] Olympus quits camera business after 84 years - BBC News
From: Ken Norton <ken@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 24 Jun 2020 15:22:33 -0800
I'm restricting my "doom and gloom" perspective on this and thinking
through a few factoids:

1. The imaging division has always been negatively affected by the
politics and turf wars within Olympus. They've been allowed to do only
what the other divisions allow them to do. And more importantly, what
can they gain out of it. For decades, it's been the red-headed
step-child.

2. Olympus has always been extremely good at engineering and
industrial design. But the products are always a step out of phase
with the market. Certain things are too far ahead of the curve, or far
behind the curve. Sometimes, not even on the curve. And they repeat
the same mistake over and over again of straying away from what the
competition is doing. Sensor-size is easily the biggest example of
this. It's OK to be innovative, but it's not OK to let your
competition tack in an entirely different direction in race 7. (Dennis
Conner's head SHOULD have been put in the NYYC trophy cabinet for that
fateful mistake). They went alone with 4/3 when EVERY other
manufacturer went APS-C. Then they doubled-down with m4/3 when almost
every other manufacturer went FF. This is 100% the fault of Product
Management. This ended up as a costly decision because sensor prices,
capabilities, and availability depend on leveraging the investment
across as many units sold as possible. To share that with other
manufacturers gives an advantage.

3. They owed their continued existence to SONY in exchange for a ton
of engineering and industrial design, as well as technology licensing.

4. Shall we mention the billion dollar fraud case? That STILL affects
the company years later. It's not unlike a college football program
that is punished for recruitment violations. It may take generations
for that program to come back--if ever. It's hard to recruit talent
when you know that the company will never be on top.

5. Years ago, I said that the biggest mistake Olympus, Nikon and Canon
were making was not partnering with the cell-phone manufacturers to
provide the camera units and processing engines. Imagine if that shiny
new iPhone were to say "Olympus Inside". Just as Canon and Sony were
able to destroy the film camera markets with digital sensor
technology, the cellphone companies are returning the favor and
decimating the camera industry. And in all honesty, the bulk of
photography investment is being made by the cellphone companies.

6. Investment firms are all about Return On Investment (ROI). I expect
the new Olympus Imaging Company, whatever it is to be called, to be
not only profitable, but probably much more focused on producing
products that are a bit more mainstream. And cross-licensing
technologies is likely to be big. We may actually get an "Olympus
Inside" logo on a cellphone.

7. Sony already has a relationship with this particular investment
firm, and I suspect that they were the primary driving force behind
this move.

8. Management efficiency. While I've touched on this earlier, it is
worthy of its own bullet point. Olympus is an extremely bloated
company that can't get out of its own way. One reason why the imaging
division can't make a profit is because of the obscene levels of
overhead that affects the bottom line.

9. Olympus America. The legacy lives on, and on, and on, and on...

So, I'd say that the Imaging Division could have a very bright future.
We honestly don't know. However, what we do know is that change MUST
happen. I don't think Olympus management is capable of changing what
needs to be changed. Bailing out of South Korea is a prime example of
the extreme incompetence Olympus has shown.

Other than gobs of used Olympus gear, I've not been buying anything
new and my two recent brand-new purchases were Sony and Panasonic. Of
the used Olympus purchases I will be making, it will be swapping out
for better copies or versions of what I already have.

Bleak? End of the road? No, not really. I am actually encouraged by
this news. it's a 50/50 that things will turn out positive for Olympus
Imaging, but without this move, I think that it's a 95% chance of
failure.

AG Schnozz
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