Olympus banks on MILCs to counter smartphones

Olympus banks on MILCs to counter smartphones

Olympus Corporation is banking on mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras (MILCs) to boost sales in the photographic market, where smartphones continue to eat into market share.

The Japanese manufacturer of optics and reprography products expects to double its market share in the MILC market in Thailand to 16% this year, helped by the planned introduction of new high resolution digital cameras.

MILCs are digital system cameras which provide an interchangeable lens mount.

Shinsho Ikeda, director and division manager for imaging product, said that sales of digital compact cameras had declined sharply in the past few years, as the popularity of smartphones soars and social picture sharing has become more common on smart devices.

“Sales of digital compact cameras declined sharply by 40-50% in Thailand last year,” he said.

Compact cameras constituted up to 80% of sales and 44% in value in 2013.

In comparison, sales of MILC accounted for 6% of total camera sales in Thailand representing 11% in value, while digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras accounted for 13% in unit sales and 45% in value.

Smartphones are becoming the main camera of choice by a large number of people as they find it much easier to use their smartphones to capture and share images.

An increasing number of consumers are relying on their smartphones instead of compact digital cameras for both still photos and video capture, according to a study titled ‘Digital camera vs. smartphones’.

Sales of digital cameras in volume saw stable growth in the past few years whereas the demand for smartphones has increased by over 100%.

However, Mr Ikeda is optimistic that the compact digital camera market will maintain stable growth into 2015 as major camera makers are developing many sophisticated new photographic technologies to beat smartphones’ offerings.

“Smartphones will not spell the end of digital cameras,” he said.

Olympus is focusing on the MILC market to capitalise on growing consumer demand for high resolution cameras.

To boost sales this year, the company yesterday launched a series of mirrorless and compact cameras.

Mr Ikeda said Olympus is resorting to higher resolution products, deeper distribution reach and better quality of after-sales services.

The company will take over the after-sales services from its authorised distributor JJTT Co this month, and start handling the services by itself from April 1.

He said Olympus plans to invest 100 million baht this year on marketing activities and promoting its products.

“We aim our MILC share to double to 16% this year,” said Mr Ikeda.

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