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January 23, 2012

Sony and Fuji now rumored to be seeking equity for the hand of Helen of Olympus

There is a new wave of Olympus updates at Reuters. The latest update is that according to some of their sources, Sony and Fuji have emerged as the two main contenders for an equity stake in Olympus, along with the previously mentioned equity firm TPG Capital. Fuji may face potential anti-trust kerfuffles because of the combined Fuji and Olympus medical equipment market dominance.

Please keep in mind that while both Sony and Fuji make digital cameras, the Olympus that will emerge after the restructuring and reinvestment may not have the digital camera business. Previous reports noted that TPG Capital was willing to consider taking over the less profitable Olympus body parts (which include the digital camera business), so the more profitable parts of the company would survive and advance as Olympus the company.

Speculation: But for the sake of argument, let's assume that Fuji takes the Olympus digital camera business. It could actually create an interesting line-up. Fuji could focus the new X-Pro APS-C system as the top of the line, with the 43rds/M43rds systems carrying the middle and entry-level of the market. Fuji is already in danger of diluting the prestige of the X-brand with the launch of 2/3" cameras, so this could force them to focus the X-system upwards. Plus, the combined Fuji-Olympus could launch OM-styled cameras and Zuiko-caliber lenses under both the X-system and Micro Four Thirds. Fuji has just moved in the gap in the market for a serious yet relatively-reasonably-priced compact mirrorless system built from the ground up for serious photographers, something that the other manufacturers (for various reasons) have been unwilling or unable to do.

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