In a move shocking to many industry observers, Konica Minolta announced on Thursday that it would stop making both cameras and film. Just two months ago, the world’s third-largest maker of camera film said that it would curtail both film and camera operations but not shut them down. On Thursday, the tone was different.
“I wanted to put a clear end to the matter,” Konica Minolta President Fumio Iwai said at a press conference, where the company also announced that Iwai would be replaced by Vice President Yoshikatsu Ota on April 1.
Among the reasons cited by Iwai and his company were the wholesale proliferation of the digital camera, which don’t need film and which stands as a stark (and easier to use) contrast to any camera that does. Konica Minolta’s announcement comes on the heels of Nikon’s decision last week to stop making most of its film cameras.
Iwai’s November announcement followed a report that the company expected to lose $407.9 million USD in fiscal year 2005. Analysts say that Thursday’s announcement might stem some of that negative cashflow.
The fact that Iwai was stepping aside was a surprise to many observers, however. Iwai will take over as Chairman of the company’s Board of Directors on April 1, the day when his resignation as president and Ota’s ascension take place.
Konica Minolta was formed in 2003, as a combination of business machines manufacturer Konica and camera maker Minolta. The Japanese camera company produced the country’s first photographic paper more than 100 years ago and also produced the country’s first color film, in 1940. The discontinuation of the film business marks the end of an era.
One immediate result was that Fuji Photo, the world’s second-largest maker of camera film, said that it would continue to make film.