Olympus sells camera business

After 84 years in the business, Olympus is selling its camera division claiming that despite its best efforts, the "extremely severe digital camera market" was no longer profitable. One of the key contributors, according to the company, has been the arrival of smartphones which significantly reduced the need for consumers to own a separate camera. One estimate claims that between 2010 and 2018, the market for standalone cameras fell by a staggering 84%.

According to a report on Digital Camera World, Olympus is stressing to its customers that it is very much business as usual, and that "this is the right step to preserve our brand’s legacy, the products, and the value of our technology". The camera division will be acquired by Japan Industrial Partners (JIP), and an agreement is expected to be finalised by 30 September this year.

A statement issued by Olympus appears below.

"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 maximized 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’ 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 long-time 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."

Originally manufacturing microscopes, the company made their first camera in 1936. Olympus still makes microscopes, and they have focused their optical technology on other scientific and medical equipment, including their capsule endoscopes.

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