Olympus to Split-Off Imaging Division, Sell to JIP, To Be Named OM Digital Solutions Corporation
We've all been anxiously awaiting what the announcement of Olympus Imaging to Japan Industrial Partners aka JIP, will mean for Olympus enthusiasts. Today we received some more clarity on their plans.
While Visionaries were sent private notes and some FAQ answers, you can deep dive into the official public release in their investor relations public disclosure: https://www.olympus-global.com/news/ir/2020
Or view the pdf here: https://www.olympus-global.com/ir/data/announcement/2020/contents/ir00018.pdf
The most visible change is in name. Instead of Olympus, the company will be called OM Digital Solutions.
Some promising news is that head of sales and marketing, R&D and design departments are included in this transfer and will be transferring to the headquarters in Tokyo. And OM Digital Solutions Corporation will continue to manufacture cameras at the same Vietnam facility Olympus built. And, as they've been stating from the start, they will continue to provide support for Olympus products. I interpret that to mean, we as consumers won't necessarily feel the impacts of this sale, good or bad, for some time.
The reasoning for the sell-off doesn't come as a surprise. Olympus Corporation was established October 1919 specializing in microscopes and thermometers. Its first camera was introduced with a Zuiko lens in 1936. Today the bulk of Olympus Corporation business is in medical devices (70% share of the endoscope market) and the camera division may have suffered from the changing landscape of the digital photography industry coupled by being part of a larger organization. Anyone who has worked with big organizations knows how the bureaucracy can prevent astute action. While Olympus was first to mirrorless, which we now see the other major camera companies jumping on the bandwagon, the business side of operations wan't able to adapt to the otherwise shrinking market. The hope is, by being established as separate compact and agile organization (hey, just like the cameras are compact and agile!) it can more quickly adapt to the industry.
When the news first came out that Olympus had entered an MOU with JIP, some photographers were very fatalistic and asked me if they should sell off all their gear, others were a little more steadfast. My approach is, if the camera is working for you and you enjoy it, keep using it. This is true not only across systems but within them. I only upgrade to the latest camera model if it will significantly change my image quality, workflow, or bottom line. Is my current Olympus gear the best system for me and what I do right now? I would argue yes, in many ways, that hasn't changed. Will OM Digital Solutions gear be the best gear for me next year, in 5 years, in 10 years? ... if I had a crystal ball, well, wouldn't that be great!
In a year that has been full of uncertainty, this bit of uncertainty feels a little more conclusive. A new chapter. The people who I've worked with at Olympus are doing their best to keep us informed and I hope to offer the same to you. Take this announcement and interpret it as you wish. Try to stay off rumor sites and social media sites that make extremist predictions to make more money and instead spend that time making pictures!
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