Well, I can't say that this is a shocker. Olympus has decided to let go of their V-series point and shoot cameras (retailing for less than $200) and focus their attention to a more profitable lineup--the mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. For Olympus, this means beefing up their micro four thirds PEN camera sales so they can turn a profit this fiscal year. According to the Wall Street Journal, Olympus only plans to sell 2.7 million digital cameras this year after seeing 5.1 million camera sales last year. My guess is that number was influenced greatly by the release of the highly regarded OM-D E-M5.
I don't blame Olympus one bit. Smartphones have killed the $250 and under point and shoot camera market. Because smartphones can do everything an inexpensive point and shoot camera can do (and sometimes more), there is simply not a market for them anymore. Why would a camera company continue to invest in a dying market? I am pretty sure Olympus' decision to stop production of their V-series is a first in a long line of point and shoot cameras that will soon see their demise.
Technology doesn't stand still and neither should camera companies. In order to keep up with the growing demands of photographers, camera companies are going to have to produce products that have great Wi-Fi connectivity, fast autofocus and great image quality. And most basic point and shoot cameras are just not cutting it anymore. Camera companies are needing to find more ways to impress consumers. A better, faster, lighter, higher-end product is their ticket to that success.
With the recent announcement of the Olympus E-P5, I am interested to see how that will impact their sales. Although the release of the E-P5 was much anticipated, the lack of a built-in viewfinder took away some of the excitement as professionals will want to attach not only a viewfinder, but also a flash or possibly a microphone to this camera. The lack of a built-in viewfinder will require photographers to choose which of these important attachments they would like to use at any given time. But the E-P5 promises to take care of the concerns I listed before: Wi-Fi, AF and image quality. Based on Olympus' past products, I have little doubt it will be a good camera. The bigger question remains: is it worth the price?
No word yet on any impact to Olympus' S-series or Tough lineup.