The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Sony is buying up a healthy share of Olympus stock, furthering on their previous announcement that the two companies would share tech and co-produce product. This is a huge, bold move that makes real Sony's promise to continue to build their camera division. Sony, I am impressed. You're on your way to making me a believer.
Sony is getting adventurous, hungry, is taking risks, and I love it. A few months ago, I wrote about Sony’s abysmal financial state. They were losing money. Hemorrhaging it actually. Nearly every one of their many divisions was underperforming. But at the beginning of this fiscal year, Sony made a pledge to stand firm in the photography market. They were going to do great things, they promised. Many photographers, including myself, were skeptical to say the least. Sony had not done much so far, what made us think they would start now?
Sony, you are proving me wrong.
Today Sony and Olympus made a huge announcement: Olympus it will raise ¥49 billion ($631.6 million) by issuing new shares to Sony. This move effectively gives 11.5% voting rights to Sony, making Sony the largest shareholder in Olympus. This follows an earlier announcement that Sony and Olympus would be teaming up to co-produce product and share technology. We all knew that Olympus was going to need help digging itself out of the hole its former management dug (the former CEO recently pled guilt to falsifying the company’s financials to hide their poor sales), and Sony took this opportunity to make good on their promise to boost their camera division.
Add to this Sony’s partnership with Hasselblad, and you have a trifecta of camera awesomeness. Think about it. The three brands now have a complete overarching product line that appeals to every type of photographer and skill level. Olympus covers the lower end and combines with Sony’s mirrorless line to appeal to that wide market, Sony’s new A99 and the rest of that line appeals to pros and pro-sumers, and Hasselblad obviously has a grip on the high end market. These three together make for a powerful competitor… on paper. I would still like to see some financial numbers, because these partnerships aren't cheap.
Hasselblad’s Lunar announcement was met with less that the fanfare that they had become accustomed to. It was actually ridiculed. I’ll admit, the Lunar wasn’t the best way to merge Sony and Hasselblad. It stank of poor planning and a haphazard Frankenstein of a camera that came about simply to make physical the partnership of the two companies. But that’s ok, it’s only the beginning.
Only a few months ago I believed Sony to be on the path of self-destruction. Today, I’m singing a far different tune, and am for the first time grateful that I have a Sony store not far from my office. I will likely be frequenting that location in the next six to twelve months to watch Sony continue to prove me wrong. I want them to prove me wrong.