Pentax plans to focus on digital|
(Tuesday, June 1, 2004 - 19:59 EDT)
An email from IR reader Denis Klimovich alerted us to news from Russia that suggests Pentax is preparing to stop manufacturing compact and single-lens reflex film cameras later this year.
Denis, the man behind the Russian-language PENTA club website, spotted two items posted on the news page of Pentar Corp., the official Russian distributor of Pentax products (and hence, one would presume, a reasonably reliable source of Pentax information). The two items would appear to be intended for dealers, rather than the general public, but since they're easily accessible on a public website to anybody who has a knowledge of the Russian language, the news would appear to be somewhat of an official public announcement, even if not originally intended in such a manner.
The first item is roughly translated as follows (our apologies for any errors in translation):
"28/04/2004: Due to the rapid expansion of the worldwide digital market, and the sharp decline in the film camera segment, Pentax announces plans to reduce manufacture of compact and single-lens reflex film cameras in the coming months. Pentax will continue production of professional medium-format film cameras. Pentax will also continue production of binoculars. The second item translates approximately as follows (again, our apologies for any errors in translation):
With this announcement, Pentax becomes the first company from the so-called "Big Five" photographic brands, which will completely focus on digital cameras of various types (including professional SLR and consumer digital cameras), and also production of hybrid photo/video cameras.
However, consumers still have the opportunity to obtain high quality film cameras, such as the Espio 24EW (a unique high-class compact camera with a super wide-angle 24-105mm zoom lens), or Espio 140V (one of the best cameras in its class with an excellent combination of price and quality). And keen amateur photographers should consider purchasing a single-lens reflex film camera (for example, the *ist model, the current favorite of consumers looking for a high-class SLR) and lenses, for which sales will continue for approximately six months."
"29/04/2004: Dear colleagues!The news really isn't that surprising, but it is definitely significant for Pentax users and retailers that the company intends to be first to make the leap to an entirely digital product lineup (with the exception of medium-format cameras, anyway). We're sure other major manufacturers will be watching closely, and deciding when to make their own similar moves - which they surely will. The only real question, with sales of film cameras being eroded by digital models, is when the likes of Canon, Konica Minolta, Nikon, Olympus and others will follow Pentax's lead in either reducing their portfolio of film-based products to a handful of core models, or exit the film category altogether.
We thank you for your lively interest in the plans of the Pentax brand, and the excitement which you have shown concerning Pentax's presence in the film camera market. Only people truly interested in collaboration are capable of reacting to the changes in the policy of a company in such a manner. We value this cooperation, and therefore we consider it our duty to clarify our previous announcement. Pentax plans to completely phase out film cameras, but this will happen gradually. Compact zoom film cameras, SLR film cameras, lenses and accessories will still be sold until the end of 2004. The lineup of digital models will be supplied with equally high-quality optics as for film, and consideration is being given to advertising support for all digital cameras. At the same time, the general advertising background created by other brands contributes to the promotion of buyer interest in the entire category of digital cameras, and the actions of Pentax Corp. will be a part of the larger picture of the developing market and growing consumer interest. We will do everything to ensure that this transition will pass for you painlessly, and open new prospects for your business."
Should Pentax make any similar announcement in the US or any other market, you can be sure we'll cover it on our news page. In the meantime, all indications are that the company is taking digital very seriously, and hopes to improve its standing by being known as the company that first took a focus solely on digital imaging.
for this item!