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Four Thirds User talks to Olympus Imaging president Masaharu Okubo

Here is a transcription of a short interview with Masaharu Okubo, president of the Olympus Imaging Corporation

At last week's European launch of the Olympus Pen E-P1 in Berlin, the presence of Masaharu Okubo, president of Olympus Imaging Corporation, the division of Olympus responsible for cameras and lenses, underlined the importance of the European market to Olympus. Okubo san, who is a business strategist rather than a technical expert, took time out to conduct a short interview with Four Thirds User's editor, Ian Burley:

FTU: How concerned are you that Micro Four Thirds could be a distraction to the original Four Thirds system?

Mr. Okubo: I am very concerned to hear if people consider Micro Four Thirds to be a distraction to Four Thirds. The DSLR business, globally, is under ten percent of the overall digital camera market. Around twenty percent of compact digital camera users donít buy a DSLR though they want the picture quality of a DSLR. They donít like the size and difficulty of use in a DSLR. We are targeting Micro Four Thirds at this market, although we know that some DSLR users will like a camera such as the Pen E-P1 as well. Since we announced Micro Four Thirds, we have introduced the E-30, E-620, and E-450 DSLR models. It is certainly not our wish for Micro Four Thirds to be a distraction to the Four Thirds DSLR platform.

FTU: Do you hope and expect any new and active additions to the companies that represent Four Thirds and/or Micro Four Thirds?

Mr. Okubo: It is true that some of the brand names that are associated with the Four Thirds consortium have been less active than others. I do believe that Four Thirds will benefit from the addition of new names. I hope that we will see new names join us, but I cannot say any more than that. But, yes, I would like more names to join us.

FTU: We hear that the camera business is the least profitable part of Olympus overall. What are the challenges for Olympus during these difficult economic times?

Mr. Okubo: (smiles) Not actually the least profitable! But, yes, we are going through extremely challenging times, especially in Japan. It is crucial for us to lower the breakeven point and we have been working very hard to reduce costs and improve efficiency.

FTU: Do you expect the Micro Four Thirds business to, eventually, become larger than Four Thirds? If so, by what margin?

Mr. Okubo: It is impossible to say. In theory the Micro Four Thirds market could become larger, but it may take some time and I donít know when this would be.

FTU: What do you feel makes Olympus different from its competitors?

Mr. Okubo: I think all you need to do is look at the E-P1 (big smile).

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Four Thirds User talks to Olympus Imaging president Masaharu Okubo

Four Thirds User editorial team Four Thirds User talks to Olympus Imaging president Masaharu Okubo
Four Thirds User had the opportunity to speak to Masaharu Okubo, president of the Olympus camera div... (more)

John Perriment Re: Four Thirds User talks to Olympus Imaging president Masaharu Okubo
He was a bit coy about anticipated growth of the MFT market. I can't believe Oly would have committe... (more)

Bob Ross Re: Four Thirds User talks to Olympus Imaging president Masaharu Okubo
This is the first time that I have heard that 20% of the non-DSLR ownwers or 20% of about 92 mill... (more)

Ian Re: Four Thirds User talks to Olympus Imaging president Masaharu Okubo
Panasonic and Olympus did some market research that suggested that up to 20% of compact digital c... (more)

John Perriment Re: Four Thirds User talks to Olympus Imaging president Masaharu Okubo
If that turns out to be true it is still a huge market in which to compete. By getting ahead, and... (more)

Ian Re: Four Thirds User talks to Olympus Imaging president Masaharu Okubo
Besides Olympus and Panasonic, Only Samsung has come out and publicly committed to a non-DSLR int... (more)

Idle_Bull Re: Four Thirds User talks to Olympus Imaging president Masaharu Okubo
I can't see the samsung competing on size, they might get the body somewhere near, but the lenses ha... (more)

Ian Re: Four Thirds User talks to Olympus Imaging president Masaharu Okubo
You can make smaller lenses by compromising on the optics. The APS-C sensor Sigma DP1 and DP2 have v... (more)

John Perriment Re: Four Thirds User talks to Olympus Imaging president Masaharu Okubo
Yes, and that's where our head start over the competition comes in. If they swallow their pride a... (more)

Ian Re: Four Thirds User talks to Olympus Imaging president Masaharu Okubo
Unfortunately, Ricoh is not a major camera manufacturer. Compared to their office equipment busin... (more)

RogerMac Re: Four Thirds User talks to Olympus Imaging president Masaharu Okubo
I am sure that Canikon will do everything possible to protect their lens sales (which are probably m... (more)

Bob Ross Re: Four Thirds User talks to Olympus Imaging president Masaharu Okubo
Another thought here is whether the Samsung entry will follow the Pentax K mount via adapters. If... (more)

Idle_Bull Re: Four Thirds User talks to Olympus Imaging president Masaharu Okubo
The problem with the Pentax Pancakes on a smaller body is the fact that they don't have a built in A... (more)

Ian Re: Four Thirds User talks to Olympus Imaging president Masaharu Okubo
When I spoke to both Samsung and Pentax at PMA and although both denied that their DSLR cooperati... (more)

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