Leica Camera and Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic) have announced they will collaborate on the development and marketing of new digital still cameras (DSCs) under both the Panasonic and Leica brand names.
Leica Camera and Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic) have announced they will collaborate on the development and marketing of new digital still cameras (DSCs) under both the Panasonic and Leica brand names. The venture will combine Leica”s expertise in optical technology with the advanced digital AV (audio/video) technology of Panasonic. The first products resulting from the collaboration should start to appear in the third quarter of this year.
This is not the first joint venture for the participants: they have also produced the successful Panasonic NV-MX3000, which features the advanced Leica Dicomar Lens unit and has gained a high reputation among AV aficionados. According to Leica CEO, Hanns-Peter Cohn, the company”s strategic aim is to create 25 % of its total turnover with jointly manufactured digital cameras within 3 years.
The new DSCs product line will incorporate an SD Card slot that will make it easy to link with other Panasonic AV equipment with SD Card slots and further expand the networking versatility of a wide variety of digital appliances, claimed Matsushita Electric director, Kazuo Toda, who announced the venture on 25 July. For Matsushita, the alliance marks its re-entry to the digital still camera market after having given away the business to its affiliate Matsushita-Kotobuki Electronics Industries Ltd. (MKE) in 1999. By partnering with Leica, Matsushita will be better able to target consumers who prefer analog film images to digital images, Toda said. The company plans to achieve this by providing high-end products that have an image quality closer to that achieved by film.
The two companies hope to grab a 10% share of the worldwide DSC market by 2003 and see CCD technology as a key to their success. Work on higher resolution chips is under development, Toda claimed. “For this upcoming project, the CCD development was done within Matsushita, but we are aware of the importance of new CCD (advances) and are working on it with Leica at this stage.”
The collaboration looks set to terminate a former OEM agreement with Fujifilm, which saw the release of the Leica Digilux 4.3, which featured Fuji”s Super CCD sensor. According to CEO, Hanns-Peter Cohn, Leica plans to concentrate on working with one partner, Matsushita, in order to “seriously enter the market”. If all goes well, the two companies could form a full joint venture in the future, he said.