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Samsung's logo. Click here to visit the Samsung website! Pentax, Samsung to cooperate on DSLRs
(Wednesday, October 12, 2005 - 09:30 EDT)

A press release distributed today by Pentax Corp. announces that the company will cooperate with a unit of Korea's Samsung Group to jointly develop single-lens reflex digital cameras.

Pentax will join forces with Samsung Techwin Co. Ltd. in a move that will mirror two similar alliances we've covered in the past. Japan's Sony Corp. and Konica Minolta Photo Imaging Inc. announced an alliance last July, and it seems likely that we will soon see digital SLRs released under Sony's own brand.

Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. - better known by its Panasonic brand name - were first to start the trend by allying with Olympus Corp. as a partner in the Four Thirds format back in February 2004, and Matsushita has since announced plans for a Panasonic-branded Four Thirds digital SLR.

Although we believe Sanyo is still a Four Thirds partner, it seems rather less likely that we'll see a DSLR from that company, given its current difficulties. Sanyo recently accelerated its plans for 14,000 job cuts, increased its forecast for losses, and saw its Chief Financial Officer resign on short notice. Other Four Thirds partners with Olympus, Matsushita and Sanyo are more traditional camera companies - Sigma, Fujifilm and Kodak.

So - with several Japanese camera manufacturers now aligned with one significant heavyweight each from the consumer electronics space, and plans for own-branded digital SLRs from probably all three, things look set to get really interesting in the DSLR marketplace. The moves really aren't very surprising - DSLRs hold a significant premium over their point-and-shoot and bridge-camera siblings in the digital camera world, and one might expect the consumer electronics companies to want a piece of the pie.

The big question is, will the increased competition spur prices of digital SLRs - already dramatically lower than they were just a few years previously - to fall even faster. As competition soared in the point-and-shoot marketplace, camera prices plunged dramatically in a fairly short space of time.

We're also rather excited to see what the offerings from the consumer electronics companies will look like. While there is a chance that these companies could defer to their partners with more experience of SLR design, and reduce fairly traditional models - or even simply rebrand designs that are shared between both companies - things could easily go the other way as well.

There's a good chance that in the hunt to differentiate their products, consumer electronics companies will look at SLR cameras in a completely different way to their traditional camera company partners. For example, consider Sony's recently announced Cyber-shot DSC-R1.

While not quite a digital SLR, the camera could be seen as Sony getting its feet wet with a near-SLR design before taking the plunge. That camera brought with it two extremely unusual features - the ability to have a live preview on an LCD from a large image sensor similar to those in most DSLRs, and a completely new take on positioning of the LCD display. With increased competition and a new set of product designers who may feel less constrained by the traditional rules of SLR camera design, we really could be in for the first major rethinking of what an SLR camera should be (and do) for some significant time!

We've said it before, and we'll say it again - increased competition is nearly always a winning situation for consumers. In the digital SLR marketplace, that may prove even more applicable than ever.

Original Source Press Release:

PENTAX and Korea's Samsung Techwin reach an agreement to jointly develop lens-interchangeable digital SLR cameras.

Seoul, Korea - PENTAX and Samsung Techwin Co., Ltd. today signed an agreement allowing both parties to combine their unique technologies to develop lens-interchangeable digital SLR cameras.

For generations transcending the history of film cameras, PENTAX has accumulated wide-ranging know-how in the development and manufacture of SLR cameras. And through the optimal application of its optical technologies and experience in interchangeable lenses, PENTAX has extended its expertise and unshakable brand power to the development, manufacture and sales of digital cameras.

Samsung Techwin also develops and manufactures high-quality digital cameras through actively taking advantage of the diverse digital technologies of Samsung Group working in the fields of digital media and semiconductor products. Achieving satisfying growth through its marketing activities centered on its domestic market of Korea, Samsung Techwin is dedicated to enhanced marketing on a global scale.

Through combining their individual strengths and working together in synergy, PENTAX and Samsung Techwin are devoted to supplying attractive digital camera products tailored to the needs of individual markets.

Overview of Samsung Techwin

Established: 1977 (as Samsung Precision Industry Co., Ltd.)
Capital: 385 billion Won as of end of Sept. 2005
President: Lee, Joong-Koo
( Seoul headquarters ) 15th Floor, KIPS Center 647-9, Yeoksam-Dong, Kangnam-Gu, Seoul, Korea
( Headquarters ) 28 Seongju-Dong, Changwon-City, Kyongsangnam-Do, Korea
Line of business: Development and manufacture of cameras, aircraft engines, gas turbines, turboequipment, optical electronics devices, semiconductors and lead frames. Helicopter shuttle services and etc.
Sales: 1,980,600 million Won ( term ending Dec. 2004 )
No. of employees: 4,283 as of end of June 2005
URL: http://www.samsungTechwin.co.kr/

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