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Olympus sales declined. But future looks good?


Olympus has revised it’s business results forecasts for the fiscal year that ended on March 31. The net sales are 2,1% lower than expected and the net income has fallen by 50%. Olympus said the decline of digital camera sales is caused by intensifying market competition and by the impact of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Yesterday I had a talk with three of my best sources. All do confirm that Olympus and Panasonic will soon go back to 100% full production capability. There are only minor problems with external suppliers that could delay the way back to the “normality”. Olympus and Panasonic plants were not particularly damaged by the Tsunami disaster. They don’t have to face the huge problems Nikon Canon and Sony do have. I don’t want to sound cynical (that’s just a pure marketing and business information) but Olympus and Panasonic could take advantage of the situation because it looks like Canon-Nikon-Sony too will not be able to produce enough cameras to avoid a price increase on their cameras. Is that a chance for Oly and Pana to increase their market share?

P.S.: I expect new product announcements next week by Panasonic and in June by Olympus. So stay tuned!


  • YeahYeah

    Thanks for this post admin, very interesting! Actually, I think you’re right! Besides, Panny makes its own sensor so this part doesn’t rely on any other company!

  • Per

    Is it so simple? I don’t think so.

  • at

    I don’t think so. For instance, even before the disaster, GH2 is always out of stock, and the model is Made in China (except the Japan domestic version).

    The key to sales figure may also depends on the product feature sets and the availability of necessary accessories, if O+P want to steal the market share from the C-N-S brands. Olympus failed because the company fails to differentiate the EP and EPL product lines (and update the EP line). Panasonic failed because the company overpriced the sensor of GH2 and not offering the best sensor on cheaper products (while they claim the GH-series is focused on video, but also keep out of stock). Both companies must produce more fast lenses and innovative products to gain market share. The best way is to invite other companies to make M4/3 lenses, but they seem to be reluctant to do so.

  • DonTom

    Who really knows why the GH2 is out of stock? Perhaps it is just selling better than expected, or a contracted factory in China isn’t delivering to expectations. If it is because it is so popular, that’s a good thing.
    In case you didn’t notice, there are plenty of other companies apparently making lenses for the format, but P & O can’t force those production schedules.
    Be patient, play with legacy lenses, and enjoy the kit you have now! There will be plenty of future toys to spend your money on….

    • at

      I’m sorry but would like to know which manufacturer is making M4/3 lenses which can autofocus with Contrast Detect. Also, if the GH2 is so popular, why not the Japan plant produces GH2 for overseas market in order to increase the market share, if the China factory failed to satisfy the market? Remember GH2 has not been out of stock in Japan at all.

  • Long time ago, Antoine de Saint-Exupery coined one of my favorite phrases: “A civilization is built on what is required of men, not on that which is provided for them.”

    I will not go all philosophical on relevance and implications, but will put it simpler way: Canon, Nikon and Sony might use the opportunity to modernize their production facilities sooner and come back in the full swing to the market with new products and technologies.

    • bilgy_no1

      Yes, and most of their refurbishments will be paid by insurance…

      OTOH if they have lost workers in a high quality facility, that may take even more time to restore the normal operation.

      As to Saint-Exupéry:

      A great author.

  • No one will know about the future!For instant, continue focus in innovative and breakthrough development of new camera and lenses will determine the future (revenue). just do not release such a product that have too much complaints. Goodluck!

  • safaridon

    At this rate will we see Panys official release of their new products before we see any pictures or sketches of them in 43rumors?

  • “…All do confirm that Olympus and Panasonic will soon go back to 100% full production capability. There are only minor problems with external suppliers that could delay the way back to the “normality”. Olympus and Panasonic plants were not particularly damaged by the Tsunami disaster. …”

    So the fact, that I’m still waiting for my E-5 and also still waiting for my XZ-1 is not a problem of the earth quake, but a problem typically for Olympus: if people want their products they can not deliver, because they did not expect any buyers.

  • safaridon

    Sorry to hear this news from Olympus. I am confused, didn’t we just received news of more than 100% increase in profits for Oly just a few weeks ago or was all that from divisions other than cameras from Oly?

  • Admin, I feel that the Japan earthquake implications on camera gear production are best left un-discussed at the moment. I’m afraid this sort of discussion does sound cynical and inappropriate. Moreover, it’s all based on short sighted speculation. Just had to set things straight.

    • Fish

      I can’t imagine how any clear thinking person could describe what you have written as “setting things straight”. You have proposed the opposite to setting things straight – the equivalent to burying our heads in the sand like an ostrich.

      I have difficulty relating to the (fortunately) small group of readers who for some unknown reason expect this site to be the equivalent of CNN. It’s not, it is a rumors site and we are free to speculate as much as we want – speculate on whether or not the next PEN will have a control wheel – speculate on how close Canon is to releasing a mirrorless body – and yes, even speculate on the extent to which a natural/nuclear disaster will affect the economic and production capabilities of businesses in the disaster area. That doesn’t seem like a cynical concern to me – it seems like a very realistic concern.

      Just to set things straight, I feel that you should make your own Internet site where your readers can combine equal parts voluntary-ignorance and unicorn-magic to prevent bad things from ever happening.

  • Fish,
    Thinking about it, you are right. Thanks for your comment.

    • Fish


      After my sarcastic rant, that was not the reply I was expecting. You obviously have better control of your tongue than I do. Sorry for being such an ass.

  • mahler

    The sales figures of Olympus show that they did not choose the right product strategy with their reluctance to offer alternatives to the PEN concept. At the same time, they made the original concept even worse by designing a cumbersome user interface into their EPL-x series. Additionally, the PENs were just incremental releases of features, which could and should have been even in the first model, the EP-1 (high-res EVF, fast AF, high res LCD).

    I hope Olympus will learn.

  • SteveD

    I genuinely think that Olympus has been surprised by the success of micro43 and the lackluster sales of plain old 43. They really had no idea how to capitalize on this success so they could only fix some of the shortcomings of the original E-P1 and try to come up with a cheaper version. They are not alone in this, of course. Everyone has noticed that the mirrorless IL compact clearly has a market, but no real long term strategies have emerged.

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