Olympus strategy announcement soon: Less DSLR and more Mirrorless.

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The Japanese news site Sponichi Annex (translation here) just published story about Olympus:

They report that Olympus will soon announce a new strategy for the digital camera business. And in short they will heavily reduce their investments in DSLR and compact camera development and focus their efforts on Mirrorless products. The exact word used by the Japanese news site is “reduce” investments. How far Olympus will “reduce” the DSLR business has yet to be seen. Olympus also had to lower the earnings forecast. The overall camera sales were down 28% in one year.

It’s really nothing earthshaking. The DSLR lineup have not see a new Four Thirds lens for years now. The only new camera we had in two years was the E-5. And the compact camera market is something shrinking for all camera makers. It will be interesting to see the Olympus report in Spring where they will disclose their general strategy and we may will learn more about the Olympus-Sony development.

via Digicaminfo.

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  • twoomy

    If they haven’t released any SLR products (Four Thirds) in several years, what have they been investing in SLRs in the past several years? If they do anything, I’d love for them to rework some of their classic Four Thirds lenses into the M43 world. The 12-60mm is sorely missed and an updated CDAF version would be magical, even if its not much smaller than the original.

    We’ve been waiting years for a magic M4343 CDAFPDAF adaptor and at this point, it’s probably easier just to make new mirrorless versions of the favorite lenses.

    • They have invested in keeping the death of that line a big f-ing secret.

  • The Other Chris

    Obvious strategy is obvious.

    • Is simple, not hybrid M43/43 camera, but maybe an new E-5 by E-M5 in side :-D

  • Another Guy Named Bob

    “Less DSLR”…. ROTFLMFAO. How do you get a number less than zero when speaking of tangible goods? Or does this mean that they are ready to stop imaginary production of theoretical products?

    • Ranger9

      They mean they will be sending ninjas around to take your DSLR away!

      • Mr. Reeee

        Yakuza, not ninja…
        or samurai…
        or even ronin…

        ;-)

    • Gianca43rds

      My thoughts exactly

  • Marck

    Thank you Oly! Will you also tell us that Earth is rounded and that the Sun doesn’t go around it? :)

    • Milo

      + 1

  • Matt

    “reduce their investments in DSLR”

    “.. just split my coffee on my laptop” .. good one!

    What do they want to reduce?

  • Es

    Reduce DSLR investments? Is that some kind of a joke?

    • I think they are just publicly admitting the strategy which they have been following for a while. Remember that in Japanese culture one only very rarely comes out saying a flat-out denial or a negative as an answer, this is an oblique way to say the same thing.

  • E3

    Glad I sold off everything a few years ago! I do miss the glass…

  • Why Japanese people are so secretive? They know the questions we want answered:

    – When will the E-P5 come?
    – Will it have an integrated EVF?
    – If so, will it be placed on the side of the camera?
    – And will it have a higher resolution while maintaining (or improving) the high refresh rate?
    – Will it have the 5 axis IBIS?
    – Will it have focus peaking?
    – Will it have PhD AF built into the sensor or some other trick to track moving subjects and work fine with 4/3 lenses? (this will probably come on a later camera, the OM-D E-M7 or whatever)
    – Will it have an electronic first curtain shutter to avoid the Shutter Shock Syndrome at certain shutter speeds with certain lenses, while reducing noise, shutter lag and improving the shutter lifespan?
    – Will it have some multishot tricks like HDR or Low-light Handheld Mode?
    – Will it have a fastish zoom as kit lens (a 14-42 f/2.8-4 or better?)
    – When will real fast zooms come (f/2-2.8, f/2.8,…)?

    Why they never give clear answers to those kind of questions???

    • Timccr

      Because they are biznizmen and don’t really know what they are doing. It wasn’t really rocket science to figure out years ago that compact cameras would be replaced by phones, was it? Nor was it to figure out that digital cameras didn’t have to be like film cameras. The omd is undoubtedly a nice camera but all this retro stuff really just means these people are somewhat imaginatively challenged. I know, why don’t they produce another boring kit zoom…..

      • The Real Stig

        You are calling Olympus – “imaginatively challenged”? – oh boy!

        • Timccr

          Yes, in my own cynical way I am. They origanally decided that m43 were going to sell to P&S upgraders because they didn’t bother to look around and see that people were taking photos with their phones They need to produce niche cameras because the mass market is using their phones. So consider my own little niche area of diving. The OMD has been well received by divers. They have brought out the 60mm macro which is weather sealed and that’s nice. Where is the WA lens for this set up? Well, there is Panasonic 7 – 14mm zoom, which isn’t sealed and is possibly a tad slow. There is the 8mm FE but not everyone wants to go the defishing route. The 12mm seems nice but could be wider. Remember, divers want WA to get close to the subject. It’s basic stuff. Other niche markets will have other uncatered for needs, I am sure.

        • Timccr

          And now they are not really reducing their investment in DSLR. Maybe. Or maybe not. That’s a really imaginative thing to do.

          Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.

    • Anonymous

      Everyone shut up and let Milan run this blog.

      -will it have better video specs including PAL settings

  • Wt21

    Translation

    “We fired the 2 guys who were working on the E7 project”

    • avds

      …coicidentally they were the same two guys who designed all the myriad point and shoots nobody in their sane mind could really tell apart beyond the obvious colour differences…

  • Milkiwei

    One word: Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha……

  • If my interpretation of the horrible machine-translation is correct, Olympus has seen some profit recently despite the reduction in unit sales of compact cameras. Micro 4/3 must be doing well for them. However, with the growing competition in the mirrorless segment putting all their eggs in this one basket is highly risky. I hope Olympus knows what it’s doing. At least they figured out a strategy (unlike Panasonic and others, which seem quite clueless).

    • Olympus as a company certainly has reported “some profit.” But the imaging group that makes cameras? They just doubled their projection of loss for the year. They just took a US$39 writedown on camera inventory. An inventory that went up 22%.

      The problem for Olympus cameras is simple: they need to succeed more than they currently are with m4/3 to make up for all the problems elsewhere. m4/3 sales were up 12% year to year at Olympus, but overall camera sales were 28%. In other words, they’re swimming against the rip tide.

      • That should be “overall camera sales were down 28%.”

        • admin

          Thanks Thom. Will fix this.

      • The non-interchangeable compact camera market has turned into a bloodbath for all manufacturers, with a large number of makers and models competing against increasingly capable smartphones and tablets of different sizes. I don’t know that Olympus has broken out results by product lines, but perhaps only their “Tough” line of ruggedized and waterproof compact cameras offers anything different.

        • According to the Japanese business press, 90% of Olympus’ unit shipments were compact cameras. That’s really the problem: that volume is steadily going away and the mirrorless volume isn’t enough to justify a full on camera group with the investment levels Olympus has been putting into it.

          Olympus isn’t the only one in this position. Currently Fujifilm, Olympus, Panasonic, Ricoh/Pentax, Samsung, and Sony are all in the same position. Every one of those companies has to figure out how to change a substantive loss into a profit despite the fact that they will ship less units if things stay as they are. Just making a slightly different compact, a slightly better compact, or a slightly better interchangeable lens camera won’t change the financial dynamics enough for any of them. If these were Silicon Valley companies, it would be “bet the company” time: take big risks but make key differentiation from competitors.

          • PStu

            Do Japanese companies ever make a “bet the company” move? Would any Japanese manager have the guts to be the guy who possibly tanked an established company? It’s a little like the American football coach who takes a safe field goal when he needs to take a risk with a touchdown to have a chance of winning the game.

            • anonymous

              PStu, why dont you risk it all with your OWN money? Do that and come back and talk about taking risks.You remind me of this delusional fanboy dude named ronnbot.

              • PStu

                A lot of attitude for asking a simple question. Thom Hogan suggested it was a “bet the company” time if it were Silicon Valley. My assumption is that no Japanese company would make that type of move, but I am happy to be proved wrong. I own an Oly E-PL2 but have far more invested in my Canon DSLR system. I’m no fanboy but would like to see more than three camera companies survive.

                FWIW, I wouldn’t bet my entire savings, but that’s why I’m not an entrepreneur or venture capitalist.

              • lorenzino

                Anonymous (I love the discretion of your name),
                this is a very bad answer to a rightful question.
                The point is that many of these companies are sinking, and the point is that the management has to choose between doing nothing and hope the market changes (and pray it does), or try to change the company and its offerings in order to try to survive even if the market does not change.
                The point is: in the USA they would do it because there is no safe net under the management’s ass. While in Japan it is not this way: a division may exist for years even if it is not profitable, or even if it looses money. As long as other divisions of the company are making profits. A Japanese management may then decide to do nothing new and wait for other divisions of the company to go back to the green, profitable, area of the diagram. And no: in Japan there is not such a thing as “daring” or “inventing from scratch”, or “revolutioning” etc. etc. So they will not revolution anything, unless some contender does it first (which by definition means to follow, not to innovate or revolution).

                • But somehow fuji is still around as a ‘real’ company instead of just a brand name..

                  Unlike say… kodak or polaroid..

                  • Bollox

                    Barf, go back to begging and stop spamming.

      • well theres the thing
        they cant blame SLRs for that loss of income

      • Another Fantard

        I assume there’s an “m” missing after than “$39” write-down?

        If 40 bucks is a big deal to them they’re in bigger trouble than we thought!

        :o)

  • Simon T

    What DSLR business they don’t have any!
    They have no current DSLR products, they have no range so I find it a bit strange to see this “less DSLR strategy” because they have nothing there anyway!

    • Many here think E-5 is a two year old joke, so the think 43 is dead :-D, but anyway the is only hybrid M43/43 so is dead :-P

  • a good joke, Oly DLSR is already dead since years…

  • ” The digital camera business sales dropped down by 28% in one year.” This is the only FACT, and worrying one.

    OTH ala camera makers, including Canon, seem to post unsatisfactory results, so the next question becomes: is it the strong Yen? Are people buying only iPhones?

    And more specifically how much investment will go into high-tier, semipro cameras, and how much in entry level ones?

    Remembering what happened to 4/3, they might be pretty scared that history might repeat itself.

    Now if we knew what models are coming in 2013, now if we only had a ROADMAP… :)

  • cosinaphile

    really , imagine , their tremendous commitment to slr , ending ,,, im shocked
    with all the new bodies lenses , just insane

  • camaman

    Seeing how Japanese always play it word safe when saying anything, “reduce” should be read as “phase out process has started”

    • cosinaphile

      +1

  • OllieS

    All the recent secret investment in the e7, e750 and e70 will be reduced. After these are announced in the spring, oly will concentrate future development on 2 dslr lines only.

  • Yun

    “Less investment in DSLR” , it’s clear that Oly know that the future of the camera is mirrorless & small size .
    That is a smart move . Even if Olympus invest in DSLR , it can’t compete with it’s smaller sensor & moreover Canon & Nikon already noticed they can’t rely on APS CMOS sensor to have good day & that’s why they start to move to FF .
    I understand the furious of FT peoples , but that is digital age .
    Restructuring Oly’s mirrorless product is to compete against Fuji & Sony , could be we are not far from the third generation of sensor technology in mFT .
    So let’s wait & see .

    • Boooo!

      The future of photography are mobile phones. Everyone carries at least one phone with them.

      People are posting photos online instead of printing them (and if they do print, it’s in small sizes). A dedicated camera gives you nothing over a phone except shallower depth of field, which many people even consider a nuisance; sure, DR and ISO are still a thing, but they won’t be in the future, because technology is rapidly improving. Someone will eventually figure out how to properly simulate DOF control in software. Therefore, small dedicated cameras are going extinct.

      If you had a phone that could create the exact same photo as your small mirrorless camera, with the same DR and ISO (and shallow DOF through software), and you never intended to post anything larger than, say, 720p on Facebook, what would happen to your dedicated cam? The truth, whether you want to admit it or not, is that you’d leave it at home, because it’s incredibly bulky compared to the phone.

      The future will be phones and big DSLR-like bodies (which will be mirrorless eventually), to provide you with ultimate physical control over your photos, as well as proper handling ergonomics.

      Small cameras, as in m4/3 stuff (including the “big” GH3), RX and NEX, are going to disappear due to advancement of technology. Phones have already destroyed the compact camera market, and they are going to do the same here. History tends to have a way of repeating itself.

      • Anonymous

        People disagree with you don’t own a. iPhone 5

      • Yes, its’ a possibility. Dedicated photographers might dissent but the majority are people for whom taking pictures is part of an online activity.

        While we bicker, wearable EVF and cam, connected WI FI phones might be all that is left in the future for most.

        Perhaps real cameras will fetch much higher prices, due to lower sales – Leica taught.

        • Boooo!

          I think it’s a certainty, not a possibility. Google’s “Project Glass” is a glimpse into the future, which is going to be very much augmented. In fact, a couple of decades from now, we won’t even have mobile phones. But we will have “real” cameras, the same way we’ll have cars even if teleporters are invented one day.

      • MarcoSartoriPhoto

        You can already simulate DOF on iPhone and iPad. I think you are right: in the future the difference of results will be minimal, BUT there will always be a difference in the experience. As Ming Thein wrote in his blog: if I shot medium/big format I can carry tripod and all the stuff, and I’m really disappointed with myself if something goes wrong. If I take a ugly shot with my iPhone I really don’t care.

        • There’s an interesting report about 2013 in the camera industry in 2013, in Petapixel and other sites.

          What struck me is that wannabes Pros will spend as much in photography courses as in gear.

          We already have LifeLoggers, using little plastic pills with fisheyes and sensors, recording at random and downloading wi fi.

          However rebuilding a simulated world and making artistic choices, inventing it, imagining it are not the same. If you know photography you’ll make informed choices. A dedicated camera would ease making those choices.

          Many of course will never care: automatic records of their memories might be good enough. So that begs the question: how much is left in the markets for dedicated cameras. 28% less in sales is no joke.

      • cosinaphile

        you got it upside down

        slrs will disappear … every idiot will have an i phone… and it will become the new defacto brownie [ie crap cam] those who want a real photo tool will choose mirrorless , why????

        because all the big boys will abandon slrs for mirrorless within 7 yrs
        and m 43 despite your confused dismissal is the sweet spot for lens \sensorr cost benefit …. when i snap my fingers you will wake

        remember film?

        • Boooo!

          You, like many other people, seem to be mistaken in thinking that a mirrorless camera MUST be smaller. No, it doesn’t. It only needs to not have a mirror.

          A mirrorless body can be the size of a matchbox, or as big as the Titanic.

          Mirrorless just means there is no mirror. If there is no mirror, and the assorted precision mechanisms (which cost a LOT of money and are highly susceptible to mechanical failure), cameras are cheaper and easier to make, which translates to bigger profits.

          The only thing that will be lost from the DSLR is the R, or reflex. Everything else, except for the viewfinder, will remain the same – including lens systems, focusing methods (yes, PDAF will still rule), mounts, flange distances, and, above all, camera body sizes.

          When “all the big boys” switch to mirrorless, they’ll replace the OVF with an EVF, and that will be the only fundamental change. They haven’t done that yet, because PDAF-on-sensor wasn’t/isn’t available and/or working that well.

          That’s all.

      • I usually don’t carry a phone and I don’t intend to carry that electronic leash around.

    • Esa Tuunanen

      That small girl camera only product line was exactly the reason why global system camera market share of Olympus went into such nose dive when coming of new 4/3 DSLRs stopped in 2010.

      And APS-C DSLR are selling as always and make huge majority of Canikon sales.
      Of course at the moment there’s less marketing for those because many current models are getting old and due replacement.
      Here in Finland first nature documentary film in half century got made only because of video DSLRs allowed two nature photography amateurs to get good quality video. All dedicated shooting for that project (they had little older material like lynx kittens playing) was done with Canon 7Ds precisely because of smaller format’s advantage in total system bulk over 135/35mm whose days as smallest format good enough for most uses ended many years ago.

  • Was there something lost in translation – what investment has Olympus made in the 4/3 market lately?

    There is noting to reduce as they haven’t spent any money on it.

  • Anonymous

    Does this mean we can stop talking about Four Thirds?

    • Mr. Reeee

      Didn’t that already happen?
      4/3 is dead and buried except for the few saps that bought onto it.

  • cuius

    Given the overall results of the camera makers – only one word – consolidation.

    Guess whose merging with who this year?

  • give TG-2

    a raw mode in firmware update.
    Give TG-3 a ZUIKO f/ast zoom, 2.5X, starting at 24mm.
    Upgrade TG-3 to 17 meters deep, work on AWB (take blue color cast away). Also bring balance back between MPx and IQ by taking your MPx and leaving us with only 10 MPx.
    Buy a working panorama mode from Sony and don’t forget about 25/50 30/60p at 28 Mbps.

  • Agrivar

    Can we change this site name to m43rumors.com?

    • Anonymous

      No. 4/3 is still correct even to describe Micro Four Thirds. The sensor in MFT is 4/3″. Every specifications table for MFT camera will tell this. If defining characteristic of format is sensor size, then 4/3 is still correct to represent system.

  • Another Guy Named Bob

    Wow, I thought this was the year that they were set to release the “trine-sensor”.

  • Miroslav

    Sounds like some article from 2009 :).
    If less DSLR means 0, as opposed to 1 at the moment, I hope the solution for 4/3 lens AF is near…

  • Olympus mean not reduction of production FT camera, but reduction of developing new camera tech, for use FT lens on mirrorless camera. ;-)

  • What I dream of is a SuperM43 (which isn’t four-thirds but never mind) with a 16:9 aspect ratio sensor.
    And a modular camera like the prototyped Olympus MDN.
    Then I wake up. Ah, well…

  • OM-4

    Meanwhile mobilephones are/become bigger than p&s camera.

    Iphone is for amateurs! Touchscreen, meh. Pro phone user needs dials and buttons. Keyboard, battery back, dual sim, expandable mem, real antenna.

  • ken

    Hi. I am a Japanese, and the original news source Sponichi Annex is just a local sports newspaper. Digicameinfo does not clarify who the web owner is and whether the owner is neutral to any camera maker. It seems in fact to favor Canon and Nikon. So, please do not take its info as granted. Nikkei and Toyo Keizai are far more reliable sources. Lastly, I do believe that Oly needs to shut down cheap compact line first.

    • rrr_hhh

      Thanks for the useful info !

  • Ian

    Meh. If you’re having a fire sale on SHG lenses, let me know.

  • Sean Nelson

    My read on this is that Olympus is about to announce their last 4/3 product, along with the news that there will be no further 4/3 development, period.

    The big question in my mind is whether or not this last 4/3 product will be a “real” 4/3 body, a mirrorless body that accepts 4/3 lenses, or some sort of higher-performance 4/3 lens adapter for M43 bodies.

  • I Know!
    A Minox B with a sensor. Put the sensor at one end. Have a permanent mirror behind the lens directing the image to the sensor at the end and a tiny zoom and motor in between. Use a micro sd and have a buzzer to find it if it gets lost.
    Oh. I forgot it also has to double as a social media connector, a smart phone, a bottle opener, a spike to take stones out of horses shoes, control the car and summon superman if there is a problem.
    Of course it will only come in black. So you argumentative guys out there can sit down.

  • A recent study shows that the expense for an average m4/3 system is 6000 $, compared to some 8000 for APS, and 12,000 for FF 135.

    If we are talking ILS compared to phones, we are talking about lenses. the 4/3 conundrum has always been if it was more convenient in price/performance than FF 135. Slowly evolving sensors in 4/3 didn’t really prove the point, but the Sony 16 Mpx does, in the m4/3 mount.

    Price is strategic, but also smaller size/weight.

    So the question becomes: can Olympus’ camera division survive just by boosting m4/3 sales? There’s little room for anything else.

    • If they take the product away from the smart phone range, Yes. If they try to sell a new camera every year to smartphone users then No.
      Apple once gave low end PCs to schools on the theory that if one started on an apple then one sticks with an apple. Many forget, with Apples current success, that apple is a company that only just came back from going nowhere for years.
      That policy did not work for PCs yet camera companies fall over themselves to offer low price entry cameras that they “know” will lead to lifetime loyalty and on going sales of higher spec equipment. Forget it. Reduce the low end equipment line. Offer great lenses and good lenses and a small choice of body sizes and styles that can be optioned. Works for car companies. Works for PC makers. Works for truck companies. Works for many white goods.
      Let those that want the neck trophy get what they want, let those that want a reasonable body and top glass get what they want. Let those that want to take photos without a high cost buy a a basic body and a cheaper lens. A basic body that should be able to be optioned up to the neck trophy, just by inserting a different plug in module or slide in part.

      • If you see Hogan’s figures, you’ll see it’s a tricky act.

        O & P are both climbing the value chain by offering high tier models, which even drop the smallish size requirement, but they have a price cap in the plummeting prices of FF sensors.

        OTH cheap m4/3 models will soon be offered by Chinese Kodak too. So they must swim between a rock and a hard place, seeing that they don’t increase inventories too much.

        • My comments agree with Hogan’s. They are up on m43 but loosing it all and more to the P&S.

          If they leave the bottom of the m43 market to Kodak they will not be helping themselves. Kodak may wade in right at the bottom or they may try to compete using the “name” and a middle/up market product. If they take the former then O&P need to be in that same market to keep the quality and integrity of the m43 line for their higher models. If they spread from the bottom to the middle then I hope they spend a lot of money on advertising and using the “name”. It will be a big boost for m43 across the board. Who knows the “name” might be on a paid loan and returned with a product base at a later date to Kodak.

        • The “price cap” isn’t quite where you think it is. Full frame sensors aren’t plummeting in price, and any drop in full frame sensor pricing should be reflected in m4/3 sensor pricing, as well. The m4/3 cameras have a very substantive price advantage just because of the sensor size. All that other stuff–LCDs, buttons, frames, shutters, viewfinders, etc.–is fairly common in pricing at the same volume (see below). In theory, m4/3 has a pricing advantage and performance disadvantage. The issue has always been whether the pricing advantage is good enough to tolerate the performance disadvantage.

          But the real problem for Olympus is simply the old Ries and Trout theory at work: they don’t have the volume that Canon and Nikon do. Take Nikon. They made about 24 million cameras this year, while Olympus made 4 million. So Nikon bought 24 million LCDs, Olympus bought 4 million. Who do you think got the better pricing? The problem is that these things add up over and over again, virtually on every part. The TruePic ASIC, for example, is a custom chip made by someone else to Olympus’ design (ditto Nikon’s EXPEED). The m4/3 version again has a substantive volume problem compared to Nikon’s CX/DX/FX shared version.

          I happen to think that Olympus has done a pretty good job on m4/3, all things considered. Ultimately, though, they needed to knock it out of the park. There’s no barrier to stop Canon/Nikon from playing in the new niche Olympus carved out, and they don’t have a lot of time to build volume. Almost everyone thinks that crop sensor DSLRs eventually become mirrorless (witness the Sony SLT models, which are almost there).

          The problems I have with Olympus’ camera group is this: (1) they need to give up on compacts as we know them, as they have zero traction there and its just a constant money bleeder; (2) they need a near relentless pace to beat Canon/Nikon to what replaces the crop sensor DSLR; remember, Nikon has the phase detect autofocus performance that’s equivalent to DSLRs already; (3) 4/3 is a distraction; while it appeals to prior purchasers to keep it going, it has no upside volume at all; (4) #1 and #3 mean that Olympus is reliant on m4/3, and it’s unclear whether that’s enough volume there to bring any meaningful ROI to the cash they need to spend to do #2.

          • The last I saw the Canon 6D was going 1800 $ body only. Since the E-5 at introduction was fetching 1700 $, I wonder what the price will be for a Pro OM-D, especially if it must include a complex 4/3 adapter.

            So they do have an upper limit, but you are right that they pay more for the same component. OTH they don’t have the mirror box anymore.

            They will soon have a lower limit set by the Chinese Kodak cameras, therefore mid range cameras might be the sweet spot.

            I think that by now m4/3 has a sympathy factor, which shouldn’t be diluted in a fireworks of models. As you noted they have inventory problems. I had rather have them going on in a more sedate way like Fuji is going with their X series. They have higher margins ad a captive customer base, so they can build on it.

            I also assume that people who enjoy photography on a Fuji won’t be deflected from it, because they own an iphone.

            • LOL, the is Pro OMD so is stop :-D

  • anonymous

    this si what happens when you folks chose olympus..you sit around and argue about why olympus isnt doing this and that. olympus has shown they have no respect for its owners, having abandoned the 43 system, which was total BS to begin with, and now that theyve painted themselves into a corner with m43, theres no way out but with yet another abandonment. It’s soon to be over for oly, and there is a positive note, all the olympus fanboys will have to stop taalking olympus BS and theyll move onto another brand and be a fanboy about it too.. LOL

  • irreltyQuedly

    Hello. Do anyone know what is all about this cookie acceptation thing? Is it safe?

    Thanks for answer

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