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Panasonic to halve compact camera production, focus more on higher-end models

Panasonic, which recently exited the consumer TV sector, is continuing to wind down some of its underperforming business units to concentrate more on products for businesses, according to a report by the Nikkei Assian Review (via Reuters). One of those struggling areas is compact digital cameras, which Panasonic will halve the production down to five models in 2014.

But instead of budget variants, the five compacts will be highly advanced models that start at $300 or more, and will include features like high-magnification zoom. By cutting production, Panasonic hopes to return to profitability in 2014, although the company is already expecting losses for the second straight year in its digicam business.

But Panasonic isn’t dropping out of camera manufacturing entirely. It will continue to focus more on its mirrorless Micro Four Thirds models, like the new Lumix GM1 (shown above) and GX7, as well as lenses, surveillance cameras, and digital camera components. In the budget cam space, Panasonic is also exploring the possibility of licensing its name to other camera makers.

As we reported, camera companies are struggling to figure things out. It’s not just the increase use of smartphones for photography that’s hurting sales, but companies like Panasonic are saddled with overheads. Digital cameras sales are expected to decrease by 2 million units this year to about 4 million worldwide. Olympus and Fujifilm have already announced they are cutting back on compact camera production. Having made the bold move to vacate the TV sector (even though Panasonic makes some of the best TVs), we said Panasonic might not hesitate in doing the same for its camera business. While not as drastic, this news reaffirms our point.