Konica Minolta Withdraws From Photo Business

In a sad but not totally unexpected development, Konica Minolta has announced its withdrawal from the camera business, effective March 31. Despite its long-time expertise in optics and electronics, Konica Minolta did not develop its own image sensor technologies--a fact that the company said made it increasingly difficult to offer competitive photographic products in a digital age.

Back in July 2005, Konica Minolta reached an agreement with Sony Corporation to jointly develop digital SLRs under both brands that would utilize Sony's CCD and CMOS sensor capabilities and Konica Minolta's optics and Maxxum/Dynax lens mount system. More recently, however, Konica Minolta decided to withdraw from the market and transfer their assets relating to digital SLR cameras to Sony. In the meantime, Sony is accelerating the development of new SLR digital cameras based on the Maxxum/Dynax lens mount system they have acquired from Konica Minolta. Sony plans to introduce the first cameras this summer.

As part of the foregoing, Konica Minolta will consign the customer service operations for cameras and related products to Sony Corp., which will implement service operations beginning April 1. Konica Minolta will also cease production of their minilab systems by March 31.