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Old Feb 3, 2006, 11:39 AM   #1
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"Following Konica Minolta's withdrawal from the imaging business and transfer of its R&D and manufacturing assets related to DSLRs to Sony Corp.,"

That seems like incorrect information according to every release and interview I have read to date.

KM is still making DSLR cameras. KM kept all their patents except for the lens mount patent which goes to Sony. The AS patents stay at home in KM. This will effectively not allow KM to sell Minolta lens mount cameras to anyone but Sony.

KM owns 51 percent of their manufacturing plant and Sony own 49 percent.

R&D for the DSLR is still done by KM - although I expect heavy co-operation between both companies.

KM will still be building their cameras and Sony will be the new label on them and Sony's current distribution and sales force will be used while KM shuts their down.

The best analogy would be that KM is now still building and selling DSLR cameras, but on a wholesale only bases exclusively to SOny corp, and KM is custom badging them for Sony as an original OEM product. Sony can move and sell 30 times as many cameras side by side next to Canon and Nikon on the Best Buy type store shevlves before anyone even looks at a Konica-Minolta model. This keeps KM is the lucrative DSLR market without having to have a front end workforce and all the expenses that go with it.

Sony is free to develop cameras on their own, seperate or with KM, and to put the Minolta lens mount on them since they will own the patent after March 31. At the same time, the current 5D, 7D and anything else in the pipeline will come out as a Sony camera with all the trimmings that go with it. KM will shut down it's repair, sales, and distribution centers because they are duplicated by Sony which has a much biger and better team and presense in place.

KM is not out of the DSLR business although the KM public name is. The potential new 7D-II and possibly even a 9D will still come out but KM will not have a part in selling them, only developing and making them. The deal they made, hopefully will make it very friendly and favored for KM to get Sony influence, sensors, and technology fir KM that otherwise would probably not happen. For Sony to get the other 51 percent of the KM manufacturing plant and buy the AS technology and other technology will cost them money and hopefully KM will get big mney for that.

The only trap here is if Sony buys some of the KM rebadged units to sell as Sony and then Sony decides not to sell them. This will stop KM's cash flow and basically bancrupt KM, then they can buy the AS technology for a song. I hope the lawyers for the deal covered that aspect but we will never know.

Still, Steve's headlines are wrong and I am surprised.

Peter
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Old Feb 3, 2006, 12:04 PM   #2
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Peter Gregg wrote:
Quote:
"Following Konica Minolta's withdrawal from the imaging business and transfer of its R&D and manufacturing assets related to DSLRs to Sony Corp.,"
It probably should have read "some assets". A simple oversght, given the surprise of the announcement, with some of the wording leaving something to interpretation. For example, this portion of a KM press release:

"Under this agreement, on March 31 2006, Sony will receive certain assets from Konica Minolta PI that are necessary for the development, design, production and so forth of digital SLR cameras compatible with Konica Minolta PI's "Maxxum/Dynax lens mount system".** Sony will accelerate development of new digital SLR cameras based on and compatible with the Maxxum/Dynax lens mount system with a view to marketing these models this summer".

http://konicaminolta.com/releases/2006/0119_02_01.html


Quote:
Sony is free to develop cameras on their own, seperate or with KM, and to put the Minolta lens mount on them since they will own the patent after March 31.
Again, subject to interpretation. That's not my understanding from what I've read so far (KM implied that it will retain IP rights in a recent interview, and I haven't seen anything to indicate a transfer of patents to Sony. But, the "partial transfer of assets" press release doesn't give a lot of details).

Edit/Added:

Here's a quote from a recent interview:

"
As of today, the SLR IP has not be transferred to Sony. If Sony decided to start manufaring SLR, there will be IP problems"

http://www.dslrphoto.com/2006/01/20/...ess-interview/

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Old Feb 3, 2006, 12:27 PM   #3
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Yes, the gas station still pumps gas and the large chested Debbie still works the register. The sign out front now reads SONY, as assets have been transfered to SONY. Old Jed is retired and has gotten out of the gas-pumping business.

You can still buy gas from your favorite pump, but old Jed has nothing to do with it anymore... except that he owns the land and leases it to SONY and will be paid to drive the tanker truck part time.

Time to let go...


EDIT: If I understand that article corectly, the joint venture will allow sony to produce D-SLR cameras in minolta factories, but not FILM SLR's... ? Or just that the agreement isnt concrete yet with the malaysia plant, and as of TODAY they cant manufacture anything?
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If Sony decided to start manufaring SLR, there will be IP problems. KM's Malaysia manufacturing plant will form a joint venture with Sony and manufacture the DSLR developed by Sony.
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Old Feb 3, 2006, 12:47 PM   #4
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I don't know where you are getting your interpertations, but you got it wrong.

Sony did not "take over" KM. KM went wholesale with one customer. KM still will build them and R&D them. Sales forces, tech supports, distributions are redundant in both companies, so KM will build them Sony will sell them.

After March 31, Sony can make their own DSLR if they choose, like taking the RD-1 and putting an interchangable lens mount on it. If Sony wants to, since they own the patents rights to the Minolta lens mount as of March 31, they can put a Minolta lens mount on it. Or they can build a completely new camera independant of KM totally.

But KM built cameras will also have a Sony badge on them. Sony will market them and so on, but Sony does not own the KM DSLR division, KM retained it. Reread the press releases and interviews. You got it wrong. KM is still in the DSLR business and they still have the manufacturing capabilities, plus they (KM) will also be building the lenses that Sony will sell for the KM DSLR cameras and any other camera Sony produces with interchangable mounts.

Sony cannot release any new cameras in the DSLR market until March 31. KM can release a camera today if they wanted to, but on March 31 it ends so who knows what will happen there. But Sony will most likely market the 7D sucessor and all new cameras to come out of KM.

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Old Feb 3, 2006, 12:56 PM   #5
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Peter, I'm not differing with you on most of what you say. Like I said, it's was a simple oversight. I've already sent a note to Steve about it.

Edit:
Also, if you read the followup stories, Steve made it pretty clear that KM will be producing DSLR models for Sony.

As for the patents, that seems to be up in the air, given that the last interview I saw implying that if Sony wanted to make an SLR themselves, it would present IP problems. My read on that was that KM is most likely retaining the IP (i.e., Patents).


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Old Feb 3, 2006, 1:40 PM   #6
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Peter Gregg wrote:
Quote:
"Following Konica Minolta's withdrawal from the imaging business and transfer of its R&D and manufacturing assets related to DSLRs to Sony Corp.,"

That seems like incorrect information according to every release and interview I have read to date.


Peter - If you'll note at the bottom of that news item that it is credited to the PMA Newsline International as the source - all I did was reprint their news item as they published it. If it is in error than I imagine that someone from KM would have told them as well as me to correct it.

Maybe KM should issue a press release with more precise wording so that we all know exactly what isgoing on. I think that most of us realize that KM is going to continue developing and making the cameras and that Sony is going to be the company responsible for selling them. Same thing as Pentax OEM'ing their DSLRs to Samsung to be sold under their label. Everyone wants a piece of the lucrative DSLR market now that the profit margin of consumer digicams has narrowed so drastically.
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Old Feb 3, 2006, 2:14 PM   #7
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Peter Gregg wrote:
Quote:
I don't know where you are getting your interpertations, but you got it wrong.
Peter
I'm sorry, sir, I'd like to have an opinion so would you please tell me what it is?
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Old Feb 3, 2006, 3:09 PM   #8
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From the press releases:
Quote:
Since July 2005, Sony Corporation (Sony) and Konica Minolta Photo Imaging, Inc. (Konica Minolta PI) have been working on the joint development of digital single lens reflex (SLR) cameras."

"decided to transfer a certain portion of Konica Minolta PI's assets related to digital SLR cameras to Sony"

"Sony will receive certain assets from Konica Minolta PI that are necessary for the development, design, production and so forth of digital SLR cameras"

"Konica Minolta Group will concentrate on its core "business technologies" field and its strategic "optics and display devices" field and withdraw from camera business***
*** Excludes production ... for Sony"

"will consign the customer service operations for Konica Minolta cameras and related products* to Sony"

AND THEN:

"Ever since we decided and announced restructuring guidelines of our businesses on November 4, 2005, we have been considering practical and detailed plan, and we would like to announce our decision made today as follows:

In this relation, we have decided to withdraw from camera business*2, such as film cameras and digital cameras, within Konica Minolta Group as of March 31, 2006.
*2 Except for digital SLR cameras and interchangeable lenses produced for Sony."

AND THEN:

"it can not be lasted that long, that's why we shut down the business now."
"Too fast for us to catch up, that's why we gave up."
"not finaliezed, but we expect a lot of our engineer will move to Sony."
"KM's Malaysia manufacturing plant will form a joint venture with Sony and manufacture the DSLR developed by Sony"
"lens business already transferred to Sony
Sony dosent get everything, but we don't know what that means. We know that KM-PI will be contracted in some way to provide manufacturing. We know that some amount of R&D and Engineering have been sold to Sony, as well as customer support. The "withdraw within KM Group" language does sugest that there is less disbanding of KM-PI and more transfer of ownership between parent companies, but thats just my interpetation (that I am free to form myself, thank you).

The engineering is gone, manufacturing stays. Thats what I get from it. I'm not against the wishful thinking that Minolta plans to re-create R&D and marketing, but it sure seems that they ONLY want to "turn the handles" as they say in the shop.
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