The camera maker we know as Leica, officially known as Leica Camera AG, is now 100% privately owned. The main shareholder, Lisa Germany Holding GmbH, announced earlier this week that it had successfully bought out the 2.44% of stock still in the hands of third-party shareholders, paying a set price of €30.18 (~$39) for each of the shares.
The stock will also be removed from the Frankfurt Stock Exchange as a part of this plan, a move designed to save the company time and money — the management will no longer need to worry about all the hassle that comes with being a publicly traded company. Read more…
It is commonly said that a picture is worth a thousand words. It seems that US smartphone users agree, for Instagram has now passed Twitter in active user count. The legions of Instagrammers aren’t just checking their beloved social network more than their Tweeting counterparts — their eyeballs are glued on it longer as well. Read more…
Good news, Flickr fans: new Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is paying attention to your service, and is planning to make it a big part of her plans to turn the company around. Mayer will be holding her first “all hands” meeting tomorrow, during which she will reveal her plans on how to fix the beleaguered web pioneer. Among these plans are an emphasis on user experience over advertising revenue and special attention given to Flickr. Kara Swisher of AllThingsD writes,
It’s all based around learning technology that Yahoo has been working on called CORE, or Content Optimization and Relevance Engine. There will be lots of linking out and an attempt to make Yahoo more of a platform for others to develop on top of.
It’s a little Facebook-like, said several sources, but more focused on content and other products that differentiate Yahoo. Mayer has decided to back 10 key arenas, such as its powerful Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Sports sites, as well as its Flickr photo offering.
[...] In addition, Mayer has already ordered the removal of some ads from both Yahoo’s email service and also its home page, cutting them back to improve the consumer experience. That’s a dicey move since Yahoo makes a big chunk of change from those ads, especially on the home page.
Kodak has announced that it’ll be shedding even more jobs in an effort to cut costs as it transitions into being a company solely focused on commercial printing and corporate services. Two weeks after announcing the sale of its photographic film business, the company is stating that another 1,000 pink slips will be issued by the end of this year as part of a $330 million cost cutting plan. This is on top of the 2,700 layoff notices already handed out this year, and the new round of cuts will reduce the company’s headcount to 13,400, down from the 145,000 employees it had during its glory days. Read more…
For those of you who are interested in the business and technology side of things, here’s an interesting 45-minute interview in which Digg founder Kevin Rose chats with Instagram founder Kevin Systrom:
They chat about Systrom’s growing up with computers, his time spent at Stanford, and landing an internship at a startup destined to be worth billions. This ultimately led to launching Instagram which is now 15 million users strong and one of the fastest growing social networks on the planet!
Canon’s president Tsuneji Uchida announced today that he will be stepping down to pave way for a younger management team as the company fell short of expectations for the second straight year. Canon’s stock price dropped 19% last year while Nikon’s grew 4%. The total number of Canon cameras sold dropped 4% last year, likely a result of both a shift away from consumer cameras and the shortages caused by Japan’s earthquake and Thailand’s flooding. However, DSLR sales are going strong:
Although Canon was affected by supply shortages caused by the quake and flooding, efforts to ramp up production and boost sales in response to robust demand resulted in significant increases in year-on-year sales volumes for such digital cameras as the competitively priced EOS Digital Rebel T3i/T2i/T3, along with the EOS 5D Mark II and the new EOS 60D advanced-amateur models.
Another big story in the camera world this past week was the passing of Sigma founder Michihiro Yamaki, who started the company in 1961 at the age of 27 by developing the first rear lens converter. He went on to lead the company for over 50 years, turning it into the largest third-party lens maker in the world. Yamaki passed away on January 18 at the age of 78 after a battle with liver cancer.
Kodak was warned by the New York Stock Exchange yesterday that its stock will be delisted if its price remains under $1 for the next six months. The stock has had an average closing price of below $1 for over 30 consecutive days now, and is no longer compliant with the NYSE’s requirement for minimum share price. Sadly, the company might not last another six months: the Wall Street Journal reported today that the company is now preparing to file for bankruptcy, which will likely happen in the coming weeks unless the company succeeds in its efforts to sell its 1,100 digital imaging patents. The revelation added insult to injury as the stock price plummeted another 28% today.
Olympus’ stock price has been recovering quite nicely after an internal probe found no evidence of yakuza involvement (though they did slam upper management as “rotten”). However, rumors of possible takeover attempts persist. An article published by Bloomberg today reported that Fujifilm may be in the hunt for the beleaguered company:
Fujifilm, which makes equipment for medical scans, has been reported as a possible bidder for Japanese camera maker Olympus Corp. Yamamoto, who also is a board member at Fujifilm, declined to comment on a possible buyout of Olympus today.
Fujifilm Chief Executive Officer Shigetaka Komori said last month it was too early to discuss Olympus issues while the third-party panel was still probing the fraud at the camera maker.
Fujifilm has received a lot of praise lately for its sleek X series cameras, and could take another big step towards becoming a digital camera juggernaut if it somehow landed Olympus.
Instagram is holding onto its place as the darling of the mobile photo sharing world. After adding a whopping two million new users in a month thanks to Thanksgiving and the release of the iPhone 4S, the app now has a shiny new trophy for its shelf: it has been selected as Apple’s “iPhone App of the Year“. The future is looking extremely bright for the 13-month-old, 7-man company: Goldman Sachs recently designated it as a potential IPO candidate and founder Kevin Systrom expects the membership base to double once the Android version arrives.
Olympus has been in the photography game since introducing its first camera back in 1936, but its future as a major player is at risk now that the company is caught up in one of the largest corporate scandals Japan has ever seen. According to Reuters, the company is reviewing its business structure, and there is speculation that it may be forced to sell off assets to survive.
While the company may be best known for its cameras, its actually built around a $2.6 billion endoscope business, of which it virtually holds a worldwide monopoly. Its camera business, on the other hand, is operating at a loss. According to investment bankers, other camera manufacturers are following the Olympus saga closely, but will likely hold off on making a move until things clear up more.