In an interview with AP at CES, Olympus’s SLR products planning manager Toshi Terada confirmed that Olympus has stopped DSLR development but he did not rule out its return.
‘Nobody knows 10 years away… once we can get a very nice share [in mirrorless] we may expand the business to DSLR again, but at this moment we are just concentrating on mirrorless and we have no plan to go into DSLR.’
Overall CSC market sales are flagging compared to the success of the format’s early years, however.
In September last year, for example, total UK sales fell 20% on the same month the year before.
However, Terada said he expects demand for Olympus CSCs to grow and declined to be drawn when asked whether the market had reached its peak.’
‘It’s a really hard question,’ he said.
Threat to ‘mid-tier’ makers
Last year, Olympus’ Imaging Systems business reported an operating loss more than double that of the previous year, despite cost reduction efforts.
And, over Christmas, a report by news agency Reuters suggested that only Canon, Nikon, and Sony will survive the war against smartphones – leaving behind ‘mid-tier’ manufacturers such as Olympus.
Credit Suisse imaging analyst Yu Yoshida is quoted as telling Reuters: ‘Only those who have a strong brand and are competitive on price will last and only Canon, Nikon and Sony fulfil that criteria.’
Yet, as far as CSCs are concerned, Terada believes Olympus has the potential to take a large chunk of the market, in two ways: by winning over existing DSLR users; and by pulling in complete newcomers to system cameras.
‘The world of interchangeable lens has changed,’ said Terada.
‘This is our opportunity to grab current DSLR users to switch to mirrorless…
‘And in changing the [interchangeable-lens] system from the mirror/mechanical type to the digital type, we can expect new users.’