Since the completed transfer of Olympus’s imaging division to Japan Industrial Partners (JIP), the company has not announced or even hinted at any concrete examples of new products. But the company has continued to put significant press efforts behind promising that it will… eventually.
In a short article on, strangely, the Olympus website instead of the OM Digital website, the company cites its history and heritage as reasons to trust the brand to continue to innovate and release new products.
In the 1950’s, Developer Yoshihisa Maitani completed a prototype of a half-sized camera as a research theme for educating new design staff. This was the prototype of the Olympus PEN.
Maitani went to the Lens Design Department and requested the best lens, not inferior to the Leica Tessar type. With no cost restrictions, the lens design personnel agreed with the thoughts of Maitani, and decided to pursue an excellent lens without sparing any cost. They were delighted to take on the challenge, resulting in the various D Zuiko lenses. The business model of being incredibly fussy about lens development became the basis for providing high image quality with a small system going forward.
The surrounding language is dripping with inspiring and hopeful language, seeming to draw ties with the history of Olympus cameras to what OM Digital is today. The company also claims that the success of the brand could be achieved by “only Olympus.”
Citing its “long-standing reputation for originality,” OM Digital then promises that it will continue to develop products and technologies that do not yet exist in the market. As evidence of this, the company cites the M.Zuiko Digital ED 150-400mm F4.5 TC1.25x IS PRO, the latest product announcement from Olympus that came before Japan Industrial Partners completed its acquisition of the imaging business.
This is the latest in a string of public statements and interviews from OM Digital Solutions that seem to be solely focused on propping up the legitimacy of both Micro Four Thirds as a mount as well as the viability of the Imaging Business under its new leadership. In an interview with Asahi published earlier this week, an Olympus exec stated that the reason the imaging division was not able to succeed under Olympus was not due to the products, but due to the inflexibility and size of Olympus as an organization.
As more of these stories are pushed by OM Digital Solutions but are not accompanied by any new products or technologies, it’s hard to not think that it may just be a smokescreen designed to instill investor confidence in a business that is not particularly healthy. Looking at the imaging division’s weak financial viability over the last decade, these recent statements are easy to see as “fluff.” For now, however, the purveying attitude from the industry seems to be leaning on giving JIP a chance to prove Olympus’s heritage right while simultaneously reversing the historically dismal financial figures.
If OM Digital does not soon make good on its claims, it won’t be long until customers begin to see these kinds of stories as puff pieces full of empty promises.