Olympus announces intent to sell imaging business to JIP

RichardC

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Saw this posted on the UK e-Group forum. I find it hard to believe, but it is great news if it is true:

View attachment 832710

Indeed.

Having taken up with an enchanting young lady of highly questionable morals, had some amazing sex, the boss of JIP (allegedly) gave his head a wobble and rather than asset strip has delivered the fairytale, declaring "I wanna build ships, no, I mean cameras".
 

c0ldc0ne

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Saw this posted on the UK e-Group forum. I find it hard to believe, but it is great news if it is true:

View attachment 832710
Depending on your interpretation of the wording in this post, nothing it says it at odds with what we have been reading so far.

The shot in the arm that the OM-D line needed.
Could be, if by "shot" you mean a wake-up call or a coup de grâce.

The cameras will not cease functioning.
No, that's rather evident.

There is lots of positive out there.
Sure, but not necessarily related to the issue at hand.

The new/planned lenses/bodies look awesome.
No doubt they do on paper. Whether or not they ever materialize is unknown.

This has all the earmarks of a spin doctor's rhetoric.
 

FrankieB92

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Saw this posted on the UK e-Group forum. I find it hard to believe, but it is great news if it is true:
If that is true, JIP/Olympus should rush with it to the public. Nothing is worse than months of doubts in your customer base.
 

BDR-529

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Olympus Netherlands also stated that more things will become clear the next few weeks/months. And that there are new products in the near future. All release will remain as planned.
This is a good news - assuming that it's true - but for entirely different reasons than what most people believe.

Olympus cameras have any hope in only one scenario: there is a real buyer for them and JIP is just a hired gun who will do the dirty work: take blame for massive layoffs and discontinue pretty much every single product save for most lenses and M1.2, M1.3 & M1X

Who would be interested in buying Olympus Camera business via JIP then? I can think of two options

1) Some absolutely huge player in mobile industry who understands that camera is already the most important smartphone feature but can't currently add claims about "Leica" or "Zeiss" optics on their marketing material.

Huawei comes to my mind first. And in order to make sure that "Olympus optics" means something in the future too, they must maintain at least a small portfolio of high end Olympus cameras just like Ricoh is keeping that one Pentax FF SLR alive for nostalgia reasons. Huawei smartphone division spends more on meeting room doughnuts than what the entire Olympus R&D budget used to be and any losses below 1B would disappear in rounding errors.

2) Somebody who could make profit with Olympus lenses and needs desperately Olympus camera engineers because they just entered camera market with a single FF product that doesn't even have IBIS which is must have no matter how innovative your offering otherwise is. Enter Sigma.

One interesting fact is that dedicated sports cameras are all about speed so they tend to be 20MPix even in FF lineup. Olympus has now two brand new 20MPix bodies with all the HW goodies required for latest FF cameras. And the best part is that neither HW, nor SW cares about the sensor size. They only see 20 million pixels, not where this data came from.

One can pretty much solder 20Mpix FF sensor in Olympus bodies and they work just fine. Of course this is oversimplified truth but basically the only major change is a new magnesium casting which leaves enough room for FF sensor. And new FW version which brings video specs and usability to the level they should have been in the first place. This is what even MTF versions need if JIP/future owner is ever planning to sell any at profitable price.

Thanks to L-mount alliance, there already is a sufficient lineup of lenses even before a single "Olympus" one is created (just badge engineer Sigma art lens with slightly different colour as "Olympus" to start with).

I bet that L-mount alliance was literelly begging Olympus to join them because in such alliance everyone profits when new players enter. It's all about security and interchangeability. Fact is that even Canon and Nikon are financially in dire straits and might have to ramp down customer products in only few years. There is absolutely no interchangeability between other FF manufacturers so you end up with a very expensive set of paperweights should any of them fold.
 
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pdk42

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I got this today in my Facebook feed. Olympus marketing could do with choosing their words more carefully in the current situation:

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 

BDR-529

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The E-M5 Mark II is phased out. So this can be the last remains of the stock.
Nope, Olympus UK has a full portfolio of promotions ongoing. Nothing even close to firesale prices though.
Strangely M1X body is not part of any promotion but they did still set the new bottom price for it at £1999 (2200€ at current rate) with £0 delivery.

https://shop.olympus.eu/en_GB/promo.html?id=14331

Note: if you want to support the Olympus cause, you can go to Olympus NL or Olympus Deutchland and pay 2999€ for the very same M1X at the very same Olympus site.
Even UK is technically speaking still inside EU and anyone can order stuff from any local Olympus site without customs or other chargers.

(Sweden: 2490€, Finland 2399€ so you have other options too 😂. Almost all other country specific sites are down at the moment due to "Maintenance" so stay tuned)
 
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mike3996

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1) Some absolutely huge player in mobile industry who understands that camera is already the most important smartphone feature but can't currently add claims about "Leica" or "Zeiss" optics on their marketing material.

Huawei comes to my mind first. And in order to make sure that "Olympus optics" means something in the future too, they must maintain at least a small portfolio of high end Olympus cameras just like Ricoh is keeping that one Pentax FF SLR alive for nostalgia reasons. Huawei smartphone division spends more on meeting room doughnuts than what the entire Olympus R&D budget used to be and any losses below 1B would disappear in rounding errors.
Huawei is the brand that is currently in bed with Leica.

Other than this minor correction, I like this idea. :)
 

BDR-529

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Huawei is the brand that is currently in bed with Leica.

Other than this minor correction, I like this idea. :)
I stand corrected. Smartphone manufacturers get new bedfellows faster than any decent looking single mom with low standards on Tinder. Huawei is indeed Leicas sugar daddy at the moment.

It was actually Xiaomi that was on 4th place (10% market share) without branded optics. Now don't tell they inherited the deal with Zeiss from Nokia?

(Whaaat? Zeiss is apparently having a threesome with both Sony and Nokia at the same time. Why on earth does the 2nd largest camera manufacturer need branding help from some old european optical company?).

Oh, and why not Samsung. I believe that they do even manufacture ILC:s under their own brand not that anyone has ever heard of those?
 
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demiro

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Building on BDR-529s idea, what if Apple bought Olympus? How many more of the same current Olympus cameras could they sell just by cranking up their famed marketing machine, and by seamlessly integrating camera with ios? Maintaining premium pricing wouldn't be an issue.

I'd buy one just to experience what would surely be the best packaging in the camera industry.

I'm not saying Apple is great, so please don't feel the need to respond with how much they suck.
 

Aristophanes

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It is possible that JIP is being brought in to clean up for a sale to another party. But then why the transfer to JIP and NewCo language?

Likely Olympus shopped Imaging around and no one wanted to catch a falling knife. Optical industries in Japan are considered a strategic asset. I strongly doubt NewCo will end up offshore due to regulatory hurdles. It’s staying in Japan. I still contend the brand name Olympus will be in NewCo under perpetual license.

Furthermore, all manufacturing complexes are still owned by the Olympus mothership, in Vietnam and Japan and are integrated with the medical and science product lines. I suspect all real estate will stay with the originating company as well. Almost certainly NewCo will have to lease use for assembly for the foreseeable future and will own no real property or even assembly equipment. With $156 million annually in losses there is no capital to set up elsewhere. It’s probably far too costly to relocate equipment specific to the current product lines unless a deep pocket buyer wants to front a staggering amount. Camera assembly was just moved from China. From what I understand, Olympus operates a single glass foundry for all products, medical, scientific, and photography. Those plants are turnkey and locked in. When Hoya then Ricoh bought Pentax, the original Pentax optical plant had to rebrand twice as these are not facilities that move (you really don’t relocate furnaces, while spinning and QC use in-place damped floors). I predict the same for Olympus/JIP.

This “sale” is about turfing existing Imaging management and making better decisions with existing assets. It’s about getting old fart board members out of the matrix and giving a new Olympus CEO room to breathe. JIP/NewCo is going to steward product lines and finances and IP but won’t really “own” anything material except maybe a warehouse. My first inclination is there is no market for a third party sale. The imaging market is too unstable. NewCo is intended to be standalone, leasing back from the mothership resources as necessary, while being financially independent. It will be private shares until profitability is proven and the market stabilizes.
 

mauve

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...

Note: if you want to support the Olympus cause, you can go to Olympus NL or Olympus Deutchland and pay 2999€ for the very same M1X at the very same Olympus site.
Even UK is technically speaking still inside EU and anyone can order stuff from any local Olympus site without customs or other chargers.

...
I received the German Olympus promotion today on my French phone, and I read the small line for once ; currently the promo is good for Germany, France, Belgium and Netherlands (? not sure for the last one) only. I don't know if you can carve out the EU single market at the consumer level like that from a legal point of view, and I won't be bothered to research, but I believe Olympus still has enough lawyers on retinue to at least show them the project before publishing.
I wouldn't be so sure you can get the discount by ordering from outside of the UK.

Cheers,
M.
 

BDR-529

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It is possible that JIP is being brought in to clean up for a sale to another party. But then why the transfer to JIP and NewCo language?
I am not an expert in japanese legislation but even in Europe there are plenty of companies like JIP who specialize in restructuring mismanaged businesses. I once even worked for a tech company that ended up in the hands of one of these (I saw what was coming and found a new job before it happened)

They are used in cases where original owners would face so huge liabilities and brand staining after major layoffs and product line closures that it's cheaper to actually pay someone to take over the whole business. You just have to make sure that this business first becomes a separate entity (company) so that all your responsibilities can be sold with it. Ergo: NewCo

The only way companies like JIP ever "develop" anything is purely financial. I.e. by instantly closing all loss making product lines and laying off absolutely everyone who is not essential in maintaning production of whatever is still profitable.

Then they just keep on selling remaining products as long as there still is demand. Perhaps keep a couple of engineers who can replace one by one every expensive component with cheaper substitutes so that aging product lines can remain profitable a bit longer.

If they are planning to make a quick killing instead they will chose either of these options

a) sell the dramatically downsized business to some actual (in this case) camera manufacturer who wants just these remaining assets, engineers and IPR but was unwilling to touch the original company with a ten foot pole.

b) break the whole thing up and sell IPR, patents, manufacturing equipment and rights to existing products to highest bidder.

Car enthusiasts might be well aware of what happened to classical brands like Rover and Saab before, during and after their eventual downfall. In terms of size, resources, pricing and cult following of niche customer base both of these were car industry equivalents to Olympus.
 
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pdk42

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It seems to me that JIP is just a financial engineering organisation. Presumably to create NewCo they need to find some funding to do so. It's possible that Olympus play a part in that, along with other capital raising efforts. With Covid etc, the governments of the world will be printing money to keep the economy afloat and that money will eventually find its way into investors' pockets. They need somewhere to put the cash since interest and bond yields are likely to be low for the foreseeable future. If JIP can put a plan in place that is believable and shows a not-too-risky return in the 3-5 year period then it's possible they attract the finance. Selling some assets will likely be a part of that plan, as will cost cutting. We obviously don't know what shape it will take, but I'm hopeful that a new Olympus/NewCo emerges rather than the whole thing disappearing.
 
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Just what do your Olympus Cameras not do that buying yearly new equipment would solve. Perhaps the technology is mature and no astounding improvements will be available. Maybe it is like a knife. Can you buy a new knife each year which is thousands of times sharper than your old one?
 

BDR-529

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Perhaps the technology is mature and no astounding improvements will be available. Maybe it is like a knife. Can you buy a new knife each year which is thousands of times sharper than your old one?
Digital photography did reach by 2016 the same subjective level as digital audio did back in the 1990's.

Once digital recording technology managed to exceeded human hearing range by a wide margin, any further improvements simply failed to create commercial demand. Hands up, who owns SACD or DVD-Audio disks or players even though they offer way much better dynamic and frequency ranges than even non-compressed CDs?
As a matter of fact, quality has since been scaled back dramatically because almost all music is now consumed at "128kbps mp3" level. Customers simply care more about convenience than quality as long as the latter stays at acceptable level.

For example Sony has released A7R IV which exceeds human visual perception even in those couple of remaining categories. This camera claims to have 61MPix resolution and 15 steps dynamic range and how does it compare with human eye?

1) Cameras have topped speed of human perception for the last 120 years. It has been possible to freeze events which happen so fast that human eye can't see them at all.
2) Manufacturers must add permanent UV and IR filters to sensors because inherently they capture wavelengths which human eye can't see
3) For at least 10+ years, sensors have been able to capture more hues of red, green and blue than what we can see.
4) Dynamic range of human eye is often quoted to be 15 stops but this is tricky. If you look at a landscape scene with bright sunshine and dark shadows, eye adjust dynamically to each spot and human brain creates a full image out of these correctly exposed patches. Our vision is sort of HRD image and only this way we get 15 stops.
5) Central vision is roughly 55 degrees which is equivalent to FF 43mm lens. Human eye can capture details extremely well but only at an extremely narrow cone. However, when we move our eyes in this 55 degree area, brain once again patches these sharp spots into one full "sharp" image. If resolution is calculated based on shapest spot over the whole central vision area, we'll end up with 57MPix

So there you go. There has not been any real development in ILC sensor technology for years because you need a fully equipped laboratory to see any improvement in picture quality. Especially FF cameras have reached the SACD Audio point. MFT sensors could do with one more major upgrade round to reach the same level, though. In reality the perceived quality of any photograph is more about selecting the correct shutter speed and focusing on exactly the right spot at exactly the right time with appropriate DOF (which is purely subjective, not technical parameter)

Disclaimer: human vision works more like a video than still camera which makes any comparison questionable at best. Breakthroughs in sensor technology would enable us to take spectacular images at almost total darkness or record 10 000fps video with an entrly level FF body but they would no longer improve typical pictures or video which are shot under normal conditions.
 
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