Think of this development as the latest brand to fall before the smartphone juggernaut. Olympus made its first camera in 1936 after years of microscope manufacture. They have now announced that they will be shutting down their camera business. The world’s biggest camera company recorded losses for the last three years amid the market for standalone cameras falling dramatically by 84 per cent between 2010 and 2018.
Olympus will be selling its imaging business, home of the OM-D and Zuiko brands, to Japan Industrial Partners (JIP). JIP is of course, known for its purchase of Sony’s iconic VIAO brand back in 2014, which it relaunched last year.
Given Japan Industrial Partners’ track record so far, we can hope to see further incarnations of the flagship OM-D line. Interestingly, Olympus Corporation will continue, with a renewed focus on microscopes and optical technology expertise in other scientific and medical equipment such as endoscopes.
The official Olympus statement read:
“Today the Olympus Imaging Business has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Japan Industrial Partners, Inc. (JIP). According to the MOU, both companies are entering into further discussions about the potential transfer of Olympus’ long-standing imaging business to JIP by the end of 2020.
JIP is a strong investment fund with a track record of success and has maximised the growth of many brands. JIP will use the innovative technologies and solid brand position of Olympus within the market, while also improving the profit structure of Olympus’s imaging business.
We understand you may have many questions, all of which we will work to answer in the upcoming weeks. We ask for your patience: we believe this is the right step to preserve our brand’s legacy, the products, and the value of our technology. Olympus sees this potential transfer as an opportunity to enable our imaging business to grow and delight both longtime and new photography enthusiasts. Olympus and JIP will continue discussions, and we are committed to providing full transparency about our intentions as the plans solidify.
We are grateful to all our customers for their loyalty and support for our products, and their passion for photography. During the ongoing discussions, Olympus Imaging will operate with business as usual: we will continue to work on innovative initiatives for our customers and we will launch new products as planned.”