When it comes to corporate life it can sometimes be difficult to come to grips with the one way realities of business and how relationships can be affected. It was safe to assume that when Japan Industrial Partners (JIP) bought the Imaging Division from Olympus that it would lead to some significant changes.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge. Photographs have been added to serve as visual breaks.
On September 30, 2020 Olympus Corporation announced that it had agreed to transfer its Imaging Division to JIP. The operations were carved out and a new wholly owned subsidiary of Olympus was formed. This was then followed by the transfer of 95% of the shares into OJ Holdings, a special purpose company established by JIP.
On October 9, 2020, OM Digital Solutions Corporation was formed by JIP. As of January 1, 2021 OMDS had 37 billion yen (~ $357 million US) in share capital and approximately 2,000 employees. This was a dramatic reduction in head count from about 6,000 when Olympus was operating its Imaging Division.
As could be expected that degree of restructuring resulted in many Olympus offices closing in a number of markets, or Imaging Division personnel being cut. I believe that all of the Olympus Imaging employees in Canada were eliminated and some markets like Malaysia had a similar outcome. Canadian camera owners are now covered under a North American style approach, based in the USA.
Obviously if OMDS was going to survive it needed to dramatically reduce its fixed costs. Having served on executive panels making these types of decisions in the past, and also being on the receiving end of such a decision in my corporate life, I understand how difficult these decisions can be. Regardless of how one examines these tough decisions from a logical perspective, some emotions come into play.
At the end of the day, OMDS needs to develop and implement strategy that will result in sustainable profitability. A colloquial definition of lunacy is “Doing what you’ve always done, the way you’ve always done it, and expecting a different result.” So, things will be different with OMDS than they were with the Olympus Imaging Division.
In an earlier article back in March 2020, I speculated that OMDS would be pursuing a Focus Differentiation strategy and would likely focus on target markets where its technology and products had the best chance of success. These include nature/wildlife/birding, sports and extreme environment/travel segments. The specifications and capabilities of the new OM-1 camera seem to confirm that this is the direction in which OMDS is headed.
We are also now beginning to see the strategic shift by OMDS beginning to impact its relationships with photographers who were Olympus Visionaries in the past. A couple of them like Robin Wong and Joe Edelman have made public announcements about their decisions to withdraw from their relationships.
In Joe’s case, he indicated in a recent YouTube video that OMDS was ‘going all in on nature and wildlife”. This can be found at about the 15:00 minute mark in the video. Apparently he was also told that OMDS wasn’t identifying itself as a portrait camera company. As a result Joe proactively advised OMDS in November 2020 that he would not be renewing his Visionary contract. It is important to note that Joe has also decided to give up some of his other sponsorships.
Robin Wong’s YouTube announcement was more emotional in nature as he explained why he decided to quit being a Visionary for the local representative in Malaysia. Robin no longer had a direct relationship with OMDS and was at arm’s length from the company. If you have not viewed any of Robin’s YouTube videos I’d suggest you check out his content as it is worthwhile viewing. He provides a lot of good technical insights on the use of Olympus camera gear.
On a personal basis I happen to really like the work that Joe Edelman creates, and I very much value the insights that Robin Wong has provided over the years. Do I feel the need to pass judgement on the decisions made by other photographers when they choose to disassociate themselves from representing a brand? Or somehow assess blame on OMDS? No. This is all just business.
Professional photographers will make decisions that they feel are in their best interests. And, companies like OMDS will make decisions about their strategic direction and future profitability. Sometimes previous relationships will still be a fit. And… sometimes parties will move on without the other.
I will miss talented folks like Joe Edelman and Robin Wong not being official representatives of Olympus/OMDS. I also understand that OMDS needs to focus its available resources on relationships with professional photographers that will directly support its strategic direction. One way realities abound in business. We don’t need to label them as good. Or bad. Or fair. They just are what they are… and life moves on.
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. Crops are noted. Photographs were resized for web use. This is the 1,143 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.
How you can help keep this site advertising free
My intent is to keep this photography blog advertising free. If you enjoyed this article and/or my website and would like to support my work, you can purchase an eBook, or make a donation through PayPal. Both are most appreciated.
If you click on the Donate button below you will find that there are three donation options: $7.50, $10.00 and $20.00. All are in Canadian funds. Plus, you can choose a different amount if you want. You can also increase your donation amount to help offset our costs associated with accepting your donation through PayPal. An ongoing, monthly contribution to support our work can also be done through the PayPal Donate button below.
You can make your donation through your PayPal account, or by using a number of credit card options.
Word of mouth is the best form of endorsement. If you like our website please let your friends and associates know about our work. Linking to this site or to specific articles is allowed with proper acknowledgement. Reproducing articles, or any of the images contained in them, on another website or in any social media posting is a Copyright infringement.
Article is Copyright 2022 Thomas Stirr. Images are Copyright 2019-2022 Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication or adaptation of any kind is allowed without written consent. If you see this article reproduced anywhere else it is an unauthorized and illegal use. Posting comments on offending websites and calling out individuals who steal intellectual property is always appreciated!