The Olympus Saga (Slightly Unraveled)

A couple of things for Olympus m4/3 users today. First, Olympus is apparently teaming up with Atomos to do the ProRes RAW thing that gets so much attention. You'll need an E-M1X or E-M1 Mark III and a Ninja V recorder. And some patience. No date has been given other than "by the end of the year."

More important for Olympus users would be to read the best English translation I've seen of the recent JIP statements about the change in ownership. As I pointed out when the press release first came out, there was some misunderstandings by many due to quick and dirty Google translations, as well as some new information.

On the one hand, a proper translation of JIP's statement is a bit reassuring: it seems to solidify their intent to try to continue and support the Olympus m4/3 products. That said, the devil will be in the details, not the intentions. And it still seems that the details are in flux. 

The one comment that caught my eye the first time I read the release—though from an analyst that was quoted, not JIP itself—was the notion of "sales of 20 billion yen and operating profit of 700-800m yen." For you Americans, that's US$190m in sales and US$7.6m profit. To put that in context, that's a bit less than half of Olympus's last fiscal year Imaging sales, which was generated by selling 310,000 m4/3 cameras (and 180,000 compacts). The implication is that unit volume and market share will drop considerably under JIP's "successful" scenario.

Note also that last year Olympus Imaging lost 10.4b yen. Now some of that was obviously asset write downs and not cash out the door, but still, it gives one pause whether the business is truly sustainable at half its volume. 

Again, it was mostly positive messages in the JIP update, so there's still hope for Olympus m4/3 users. 

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