Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic are doomed, according to Credit Suisse analyst

by Felix Esser

posted Monday, December 30, 2013 at 5:26 PM EDT


Okay, that headline is slightly dramatized. But the fact of the matter is that Credit Suisse imaging analyst Yu Yoshida paints the picture of a dire future for Japan's mid-tier camera makers. With smartphones continuing to eat into the market share of compact cameras, Yoshida sees little space left for the smaller players: "Only those who have a strong brand and are competitive on price will last‒and only Canon, Nikon and Sony fulfill that criteria."

One reason for this, according to Yoshida, is that connectivity is more important to most users than pure image quality, and that users prefer single devices that are able to perform multiple tasks, instead of multiple devices that perform single tasks each. Which would be exactly why so many people are using smartphones as their main picture taking devices these days.

In response to this trend, many camera makers have already completely axed their entry-level compact camera models in favor of higher-end products such as enthusiast's compacts and mirrorless cameras. But according to the Reuters report, which was first published over at the New York Times, that's not enough to make a lasting stand on the ever-changing tech market.

The three companies named in our headline‒Fujifilm, Olympus, and Panasonic‒are continuously taking losses from their camera divisions, although Olympus has recently announced that they expect to make profits from camera sales again in the next fiscal year. Panasonic, on the other hand, has announced it will close down unprofitable businesses by March 2016, and its camera division could just be one of them unless they start generating profits again. With Canon, Nikon, and Sony together sharing 60% of the overall camera market though, that could be a difficult task to perform.

Add to that the fact that mirrorless cameras such as the Micro Four Thirds models from Olympus and Panasonic are having a hard time competing against DSLRs in two of the biggest markets of the world, namely Germany and the U.S., it's easy to see why it might in fact be only Canon, Nikon, and Sony that will survive in the end. That is unless we're going to see a shift to smaller cameras even in those markets in the next couple of years.

As always, the opinion voiced by Credit Suisse analyst Yoshida is only one of many, and we mustn't forget that mirrorless cameras are selling very well in other parts of the world, to the point where they are already an actual threat to DSLRs. In the end, what it will boil down to is which of the manufacturers will be best able to anticipate changes in consumer behaviour, and deliver the products that people are actually asking for. In that regard, Sony is on the right track, but also Fujifilm is doing a great job satisfying its customers.

(via Sony Alpha Rumors)