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Olympus forecasts camera business will return to profit in 2014, focuses on mirrorless

Olympus OM D EM 1 front left angle
Image used with permission by copyright holder

There have been a lot of doom-and-gloom stories about the camera industry this year, but here’s some positive news from Olympus CEO Hiroyuki Sasa: The company is expecting its camera business to return to profit next year, with a forecast of increased sales of mirrorless models. According to Bloomberg, Sasa says its mirrorless cameras will rise to 1 million units as early as April 2014, and account for 5 percent of the global market share; if Olympus achieves those figures, it will bring $68 million in operating profit.

For a company that has had to deal with internal drama, an industry battered by smartphones, and two consecutive quarters of losses, the news is positive, considering Sasa only recently said that Olympus might consider relying more on partner Sony for camera components to help cut costs. The company is focusing more on the high-end mirrorless market, which includes its Micro Four Thirds models such as the OM-D E-M1 and PEN E-P5, and less on the budget models. There’s still growth potential in the top market, which would put Olympus against the big guns from Canon and Nikon, the two major DSLR manufacturers.

“What mirrorless cameras can do has become toe-to-toe with cameras with mirrorbox,” Sasa told Bloomberg. “Ours are lighter, smaller, and made with less parts, so we can do better with prices.”

While sales projections are all well and good, it’s not a guarantee. But the important statement Sasa made is that Olympus has no intentions of exiting the camera business, which makes up 14 percent of its total revenue. The technologies Olympus develops for cameras are crucial to its medical business, Sasa said. The company is the world’s biggest maker of endoscopes, and healthcare is one sector Olympus is investing heavily in.

(Via Bloomberg)

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