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Konica Minolta

The minds of Minolta stymied
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

On January 19, 2006, Konica Minolta announced it was leaving the business. They transferred their digital SLR camera operation to Sony so that existing customers may have a chance to continue using their investment in the Maxxum/Dynax lens mount system. As for compact digital cameras, those will be gone for good. Konica Minolta will continue making color film and color paper for a while, but will stop that in March of 2007 as well.

How can a company like Konica Minolta, whose photographic past goes all the way back to 1903 and who is the worldwide number 3 in film and photo paper call it quits at a time where digital imaging is exploding? I mean, who can't remember the "From the minds of Minolta" TV commercials? What serious photographer didn't at least note the continuous stream of innovation in Minolta cameras and the quality and great value in Konica SLRs? And in 1962 it was a Minolta made camera that astronaut John Glenn had on his historic space flight onboard the Mercury Friendship 7 spacecraft.

So why Konica Minolta? It was because they fell into what we call "the horseless carriage trap." They did not realize that digital cameras were a totally different animal from film cameras. So while they made some very nice digital cameras, I don't think they ever thought things through and came to a realistic assessment of what it takes to be a manufacturer of digital cameras. Konica Minolta's goodbye includes the following statement: "However, in today's era of digital cameras, where image sensor technology such as CCD is indispensable, it became difficult to timely provide competitive products even with our top optical, mechanical and electronics technologies."

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