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billandsue

Sony Article

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"Canon and Nikon are imaging companies, so are Olympus, Fujifilm, et al.; they live and breathe imaging."

 

Canon Inc. is a Japanese multinational corporation specializing in the manufacture of imaging and optical products, including camerascamcorders, professional displays, TV broadcasting and film equipment, projectorsphotocopiersphotolitography equipment (steppersscanners), computer printersimage scannersphotocopiersbinocularsmicroscopes, medical equipment (including Computer Tomography diagnostic systems, MRI and diagnostic ultrasound systems), LCD and OLED panel manufacturing equipment, CCTV solutions, imagining sensors, calculators, high precision positioning and measurements solutions, and custom optical components (including lenses) for third party companies.

Canon generated total revenues of US$45,608 million in 2011, of which 53.9% was by the Office Business Unit, 36.9% by the Consumer Business Unit and 11.8% by the Industry and Others Business Unit

 

Nikon Corporation is a Japanese multinational corporation headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, specializing in optics and imaging products.  Nikon's products include camerascamera lensesbinocularsmicroscopesophthalmic lensesmeasurement instrumentsrifle scopesspotting scopes, and the steppers used in the photolithography steps of semiconductor fabrication, of which it is the world's second largest manufacturer.[3] The company is the eighth-largest chip equipment maker as reported in 2017.

 

 

Fujifilm Holdings Corporation is a Japanese multinational photography and imaging company headquartered in Tokyo.

Fujifilm's principal activities are the development, production, sale and servicing of business document solutions, medical imaging and diagnostics equipment, cosmetics, regenerative medicine, stem cells, biologics manufacturing, optical films for flat panel displays, optical devices, photocopiers and printers, digital cameras, color film, color paper, photofinishing equipment, photofinishing chemicals, graphic arts equipment and materials.

 

Olympus Corporation is a Japanese manufacturer of optics and reprography products. Olympus was established on 12 October 1919, initially specializing in microscopes and thermometers.[4] Olympus holds roughly a 70-percent share of the global endoscope market, estimated to be worth approximately US$2.5 billion. Its global headquarters are located in ShinjukuTokyoJapan.  

Medical and surgical  Olympus manufactures endoscopic, ultrasound, electrocautery, endotherapy, and cleaning and disinfection equipment. The first flexible Endoscope in the world was co-developed and manufactured by Olympus in Tokyo.[11] Through its comprehensive product range and its reactivity to market innovations, Olympus enjoys a virtual stranglehold of the world market in gastro-intestinal endoscopes. It has roughly 70% share of the global market whose estimated valued at US$2.5 billion.[12] On 28 September 2012, Olympus and Sony announced that the two companies will establish a joint venture to develop new surgical endoscopes with 4K resolution (or higher) and 3D capability.[13]

Scientific  Since the beginning, the company has been a manufacturer of microscopes and optics for specialised needs, such as medical use. The first microscope manufactured at Olympus was called the Asahi.[14] Currently, Olympus is a worldwide renowned manufacturer of microscopes. Olympus offers a complete range of microscopes, which covers applications from education and routine studies up to state of the art research imaging systems, both in life science and materials science.

Olympus Scientific Solutions Americas Corporation is a Waltham, Massachusetts-based manufacturer, and is a subsidiary of Olympus Corporation. One of its companies, for example, is Olympus Imaging and Measuring Systems, specializing in imaging instruments for testing and measurement during industrial inspections.

Industrial  Olympus manufactures and sells industrial scanners, flaw detectors, probes and transducers, thickness gages, digital cameras, image analysis software, industrial videoscopes, fiberscopes, light sources, XRF and XRD analyzers, and high-speed video cameras

 

It is extremely naive to think that ANY company currently selling digital cameras is strictly a 'camera' company.  Sony's global corporation indeed has many branches of business, as do pretty much all of these companies - many of them are doing very poorly in camera sales compared to other branches of their corporation (Olympus stays alive almost entirely on their medical division).

 

While some who dislike Sony as a company and dislike Sony camera products have always liked to post how Sony was going to drop cameras at any moment (if you've been shooting Sony cameras long enough and have been on forums long enough, you've seen this type of post/blog claim literally DOZENS of times over the past 15 years or so), Sony is one of the few brands in the camera industry that has actually grown their market share and increased their sales and profits in this particular category.

 

A counter-argument might be that Sony Corporate has so many other profit centers in other areas that they can afford to continue with a profit-losing segment such as digital cameras far longer than companies that make a larger portion of their corporate earnings from their camera divisions.  Since all camera divisions are declining in sales every year, and trends continuing to predict the same, the strongest, largest conglomerate companies may be the ones who can stick with it longer, offsetting losses in one division by huge profits in another, especially if there's a particular prestige that can't be measured in profits - Sony may value the press they get about their cameras, seeing their name on broadcast or press cameras, general bragging rights, etc - and may feel that those things are worth losing a little money over especially when that money only contributes 1-2% of your overall corporate spending.  A company like Nikon, which relies more heavily on their optical/camera division, is much more vulnerable to a declining market, than large corporations with diverse divisions such as Sony or Canon.  Fuji and Olympus too are very small players overall in the camera market by sales percentages/volume, and likely more vulnerable to a possible market pullout if profits continue to decline and the market continues to shrink.

 

But it's all just opinions and conjecture.  Personally, I pick the camera that best suits my needs and wants, and leave all the corporate worrying to the suits at the top...if some product I'm using goes off the market at some future time, I'll keep using what I have until I need something new, and then compare what's still available at that time, picking whatever is best for my needs!

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When the "rumor" appeared, it prompted me to do some research. The article has an interesting perspective but it misses a few salient points, starting with this one:

 

image.png.8fd0dab8f199b96496afac30e651337a.png

 

"Alleged". The information wasn't attributed to anyone at Sony.

 

From Bloomberg:

Sony has already canceled some previously planned features for a new mirrorless camera due this year owing to the constrained DRAM supply, several people with knowledge of the matter said.

 

"Un-named sources" seem popular these days.

 

Note that I use "about" when referring to dollar amounts. Most of the results are listed in Yen and conversion is not always exact.

 

Sony's imaging division only contributed 8% to their FY '18 revenue but that was around a $6.1B  slice of a $78B pie. The article mentions that their cameras are a niche product to them where they can show off their tech. Ok. If you provide over 50% of the images sensors used in the world, this seem like a really good way to show consumers all the wonderful advancements in your offerings.  

 

While it's true that Sony is not primarily an imaging company by virtue of income percentage from that segment, to a lesser extent the same can be said about Canon with cameras only contributing about 16% to their revenue. Out of the approximate $36B total, imaging is about  $9.3B with $5.6B in cameras.:

 

image.png.6500d1c9de85a6b585da50edf0484e41.png

 

Same with Nikon where a decreasing percentage of their revenue comes from the imaging division. Their FY '18 revenue was about $6.5B of which imaging was about half.

 

 

image.png.a0b5ca4fd53a31df0408b4417838bfc5.png

 

Fujifilm Holdings's 2018 revenue was about $22B of which Fujifilm Imaging's share was  about $3.5B with $2.3B from photo imaging. Fun fact: top seller in Fuji cameras was the Taylor Swift Instax camera.

 

Olympus posted about $7.1B in revenue with a little over $.5B ($546M) from Imaging. Their revenue from endoscopes was five times that amount. (This research was actually quite fun.)

 

Panasonic showed revenue of $72B in 2018 of which the Appliance division (which includes camera) accounted for about $23B. The camera division isn't broken out specifically but the AVC segment which includes TVs, A/V equipment security and video/still cameras did $6.3B. No further breakdown could be found .

 

The moral of the story is summed up in this statement from the article:

"Nobody is saying Sony is going to ditch their cameras in the short term, heck: they probably won’t in the long term either."

 

The whole industry is shrinking and cameras as cameras are all becoming niche products. Most photos are taken with phones these days and that percentage will undoubtedly grow. What the top camera companies should do is look into making phones.

 

Oh, wait....

 

🙂


 

Dave

 

 

 

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Hey Dave - looks like we both had the 'Scuze me while I whip this out' approach with posting statistics on corporate structures and profits.  Great minds and all.

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Justin and Dave -- Thanks for your thorough and informative comments.   Both of your discussions provide context and perspective, which is clearly lacking in the Sony article.  

Edited by billandsue
typo

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5 hours ago, zackiedawg said:

Hey Dave - looks like we both had the 'Scuze me while I whip this out' approach with posting statistics on corporate structures and profits.  Great minds and all.

 

While I didn't actually quote Cleavon Little's line from Blazing Saddles, I did feel the need to fill in a little context. To many years suffering the slings an arrows of shooting with an underdog for the both of us?

 

🙂

 

 

4 hours ago, billandsue said:

Justin and Dave -- Thanks for your thorough and informative comments.   Both of your discussions provide context and perspective, which is clearly lacking in the Sony article.  

 

As I hinted above,  my Sony shooting dates to the A700 clear back in 2007 and I regularly took some heat from my friends and random owners of "real cameras" from "real camera companies" that I would chat with on cruises. Not a new experience since  I previously shot with Minolta for 30+ years. When Minolta was absorbed by Sony, I really didn't have enough of a lens investment to cement me to the A-mount and I had already replaced all my bodies once back when Minolta switched mounts to implement autofocus. I passed on the A-100 but took a deep breath and dove in when the A-700 came out. Now I'm glad I took the chance even though the NEX and A6x00 bodies eventually led to another lens and body purge to switch to E-mount. The A7III and A6300 I shoot with now are really exceptional and I am sold on Sony's commitment to raising the bar when it comes to imaging tech. They went from zero to second in interchangeable lens cameras in a decade. What will the next ten years hold? 

 

If I could pre-order an A7000 or A7rV right now, I just might take another educated leap of faith.

 

🙂

 

Dave

 

 

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On 2/27/2020 at 11:22 AM, zackiedawg said:

Since all camera divisions are declining in sales every year, and trends continuing to predict the same, the strongest, largest conglomerate companies may be the ones who can stick with it longer, offsetting losses in one division by huge profits in another, especially if there's a particular prestige that can't be measured in profits - Sony may value the press they get about their cameras, seeing their name on broadcast or press cameras, general bragging rights, etc - and may feel that those things are worth losing a little money over especially when that money only contributes 1-2% of your overall corporate spending. 

 

It is hard to guess what Sony values the prestige of cameras at, but I think the supplier power they have is another factor to consider here.  All the players are huge and involved in many segments, but Sony is the largest and most diverse.  That gives them leverage with suppliers who they work with across multiple segments, which in turn has the potential to improve their marginal costs relative to some other companies.  As the camera market shrinks, that could turn out to be a key advantage.

 

 

On 2/27/2020 at 12:04 PM, pierces said:

The whole industry is shrinking and cameras as cameras are all becoming niche products. Most photos are taken with phones these days and that percentage will undoubtedly grow. What the top camera companies should do is look into making phones.

 

  It is hard for me to envision so many DSLR and Mirrorless systems being on the market in another decade given the continued advancement of phone cameras.  The simple truth is that one or more of the big players will eventually decide the investment in cameras doesn't justify the return and pull out of the market.  As you both have pointed out, we really don't know who that is going to be.   It will also be interesting to see if their are sales/consolidation or some divisions simply shut down.  Regardless, the assertions made in the article just don't gives us any real insight into what is going to happen.  I guess there a reason it is on photo blogger and not in a well known business journal.

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