Focusing on high-end cameras is quickly becoming a trend — earlier today, April 12, Ricoh was the latest camera company to announce that it will be focusing on more advanced cameras as sales trends decline.
The official statement was in response to a rumor published in the Japanese tech publication Nikkei that said the company was considering pulling out of the consumer camera industry altogether. Ricoh said that the statement is not based on any announcements from the company.
“Ricoh is focusing its resource on the high added value products such as Pentax and GR that are appreciated by the existing users and photo hobbyists,” the statement reads. “Ricoh is also a market leader of input devices in the VR or AR market with its ‘Ricoh Theta’ where we can see rapid growth, and will keep on expanding the business even more in this field. In addition, Ricoh will develop and expand the imaging business in the solution business field for corporate, by creating new market utilizing its own camera technology.”
The company’s brief statement does not discuss other claims in the Nikkei article, including the claim that the company is laying off 1,000 U.S.-based employees and offering early retirement to employees in Japan. The report also suggests the company is expanding the production of camera sensors used in cars.
Point-and-shoot camera announcements from all major manufacturers have all but stopped as the smartphone makes small-sensored cameras almost redundant. Ricoh is instead focusing on its high-end compact, the GR, as well as the Pentax DSLR line, known for weather-sealing and competitive prices. The Theta series, a 360-degree camera, will also be a focus for the company.
The number of cameras manufactured in 2016 declined by 35 percent overall, while interchangeable lens cameras continued to have much smaller declines, with DSLRs dropping by 17 percent and mirrorless by only four percent. Those trends have companies putting more effort into interchangeable lens cameras and advanced compacts while drawing back production on basic cameras.
Nikon announced a restructuring plan with a new focus on high-end cameras back in November. Panasonic released a statement after a similar article from Nikkei suggested the company was dismantling camera production, saying that the company is only moving camera production under a larger umbrella of consumer products to strengthen it, not tear it apart.