Konica Minolta announced a sweeping overhaul of its business, declaring that it will exit the film and digital camera market globally, sell its SLR technology to Sony and cease production and marketing of retail photo printing equipment.
The moves were an effort to “concentrate on its core business technologies field and its strategic optics and display devices,” the company said in a statement.
Konica Minolta will stop manufacturing and selling its own digital cameras and concentrate instead on supplying lenses for the forthcoming Sony d-SLR based on Konica Minolta's Maxxum/Dynax lens technology.
Sony will acquire Konica Minolta's SLR technology, including its CCD-shifting Anti-Shake stabilization technology, at the end of the March and will have its own SLR by the summer, Konica Minolta said. A Sony spokesperson said the company was not ready to divulge details regarding lens branding or its d-SLR strategy.
Sony will also inherit customer service obligations for existing Konica Minolta cameras as of April.
On the retail printing side, Konica Minolta will stop producing mini labs by the end of March and shift service of its installed base of kiosks and mini labs to Noritsu Koki. The company expects to shed 3,700 employees worldwide (roughly 500 in the United States), partially through early retirement. The company's office in Mahwah, N.J., is expected to close, terminating approximately 150 jobs. The company will also shutter a film processing facility in Mount Laurel, N.J.
The Japanese camera maker cited a troubled transition to digital as the reason for the pullout: “In today's era of digital cameras, where image sensor technologies such as CCD is indispensable, it became difficult to timely provide competitive products even with our top optical, mechanical and electronics technologies.”
According to a company spokesperson, the U.S. division had hit its sales numbers but the company's meager share of the global market, estimated at 3 percent, forced a wholesale closure.
Konica Minolta's rather abrupt exit from the imaging business is consistent with a gradual contraction in the digital camera market, said Chris Chute, senior analyst, IDC. The transition from film to digital fatally crippled several major film camera brands, such as Polaroid and now Konica Minolta, he said.