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Year of the Great Camera Company Shakeout?

Yesterday I wrote Is This the Year of Cool New Cameras?.

But might it also be the Year of the Great Camera Company Shakeout? If not the end for some, the beginning of the end, unless course is altered and some hard choices made.

Leica

Leica is a ship without a keel, drifting randomly through a sea of faster/better/cheaper offerings, and now facing two medium format systems that cost the same or less than the M and SL systems. See Is Leica a Credible Player?.

The M system abandoned with only token updates. The SL system too little, too late, too expensive, way off-mission for any M shooter, unexecuted. The S system abandoned, with angry users (some suing Leica for quality problems, others just quietly seething). The T system a pathetic toy. Leica should go back to its roots by refocusing all its resources solely in making the M system great again. The Leica Q falls into that “root” category—successful and true to mission.

Nikon

Due to years of doing absolutely nothing to counter the camera phone threat on the low end and the Sony threat at the bread-and-butter level, Nikon seems to be in trouble, issuing a Notice of Recognition of Extraordinary Loss today. The new Nikon DL was also canceled. Clearly the company is now under stress.

The write-downs are from the lithography business (not cameras). At least with Zeiss, that business is far more important than consumer lenses. I wonder if this might be at least partly true for the total Nikon corporate entity, an what it portends for the future of Nikon professional cameras.

Emphasis added.

This is to announce the recognition of extraordinary loss for the nine months ended December 31, 2016 (from April 1 to December 31, 2016), as below.

Recognition of Restructuring Expenses

As announced in “Notice of Restructuring” released on November 8, 2016, Nikon Group is currently under a fundamental company-wide restructuring to improve its corporate value as shifting from a strategy pursuing revenue growth to one pursuing profit enhancement.

In accordance with this restructuring, the Group recorded extraordinary loss of 29,790 million yen, mainly incurred from inventory write-downs/write-off in Semiconductor Lithography Business, as restructuring expenses for the nine months ended December 31, 2016.

Also, restructuring expenses in Imaging Products Business and the expenses related to “Results of Solicitation for Voluntary Retirement,” which is released today, are expected to incur in the fourth quarter of this fiscal year.

As a result, the total amount of restructuring expenses for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017 will be approximately 53,000 million yen, which is 5,000 million yen increase from the previous estimate of approximately 48,000 million yen in “Notice of Restructuring” released on November 8, 2016.

Pentax

Great technology in the Ricoh GR and Pentax 645Z, with these products having seen no development. A terrific camera (Pentax K1 in SuperRes pixel shift mode) with zero lenses I’d want to use on it. And now, the announcement of a new APS-C DSLR. How long can this go on? Do it right, or get out of the game. I visited Pentax at CES but could find no one I could converse with (in English) who knew anything about products. Still, I have not seen any signs of stress announced for Pentax yet.

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