What is happing to Leica Camera Group ?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by mtc photography, Jul 7, 2000.

  1. A few years ago, Leica (head quartered in Switzerland ) spinned off Leica-Camera group of Solms as an independent company; about 4 or 5 years ago,
    Leica-Camera Group of Solms went public on the Frankfurt Exchange, with trading symbol
    LCA. Leica even issued a special edition camera with a piece of the stock certificate "Ein Stuck "
    I as recall, Leica camera stock went up for a while. But after several years,
    Leica camera stock went into a tailspin, and lost nearly 80 % of initial value.
    Any one knows what is happening at Leica Camera Group ?
    Leica M range finder used to enjoy a monopoly position in the market. But a few years ago, new range finder cameras came out one after another,
    Contax G series, Konica Hexar RF, Cossina Voigtlander Vessar etc; these cameras may have
    cut into the market shares of Leica M
     
  2. Competition can only be good. Being the only show in town breeds a
    bit of laziness...ie 40 year old designs still being offered, (35 and
    50mm summiluxes). The amount of new lenses being designed and
    marketed in the last two years exceed the offerings of the last 50.
    Just like Ma Bell of just a few years ago, having no direct competion
    gave them no reason to give the best product for the best price...
    Now with all of the phone companies fighting for your business, they
    can't rest on their name only.

    <p>

    Leica should be able to raise to the challenge and keep their place
    at the top of the heap. When the consumer can buy the "this"
    or "that"... the "that" better be pretty good. I'll bet the
    proliferation of new leica improvments continues.
     
  3. Leica did come up with many new lens and camera body designs in the pass few years, precisely due the infusion of investor money.
    Hoever, since investors have lost a great deal of money in LCA shares, which lost almost 80% of value, it many not be easy for them to raise new money ( lost financial credibility )
    In today's business world, beside sheer competion, there is a Darwinism at work, ie, big fish eats up smaller fish.
    For instance, Samsung ate Rollei stock and barrel, not because Samsung has better lens, but because Samsung has more profit.
    Leica now being a public company and with stock price at such depressed level is extremely vulnerable to being taken over.
    Samsung, Kyocera or even Sigma could ate up Leica in one bite--- it is not far fetched.
    Of course, after Samsung digested Rollei, Rollei is doing quite well , lot of new products.
    So can Leica makes a come back on its own, it is still an open question.
     
  4. Leica is only marginally profitable, alas. US $20 Million will let
    you buy a majority share, $40 million the whole company. The
    management is very concerned that this will happen; thus causing them
    to lose control over the brand and the product concepts and quality
    ethos.
     
  5. I agree that Leica will indeed be in big problems as the digital
    revolution continues as I fear that the current generation of camera
    buyers will think that Leica are old technology (which indeed they
    are) so this really does mean that the future of the company as it is
    presently stands must be in doubt. In some ways, to be taken over is
    good, but only if the new owner believes in the quality of the brand
    and wishes to maintain that quality by evolving the system and I feel
    that this must mean going more digital and also more reflex-oriented,
    if only because the rangefinder is, whatever its merits, a niche
    market. So they probably need a large electronics-savvy company like
    Olympus, but someone who does not directly compete with them at
    present. Of course they tried this before with Minolta and Leica did
    well out of this, but it is no longer continuing. What is needed is
    more products like the Hexar RF (which indeed should have been a
    Leica) or even the CLE. The R8 is a good product, but without the
    marketing muscle of the Japanese companies it is very difficult to
    make any headway. Of course even with digital systems optical
    performance is still very important, so Leica's reputation can serve
    it well for the future.
     
  6. I love Leicas, both those I own and have owned over the years, and
    the ones I can only read about or see in museums. Yes, I admit it, I
    actually USE them to make pictures. Which brings up my point. It
    appears that the current designers are not photographers as Oscar
    was. Everything he designed worked, and improved the ease of use of
    his camera. Don't these people ever look at or use other cameras?
    The Olympus OM1 should have been the original Leicaflex, instead they
    couldn't even design a shutter speed dial to turn in the same
    direction as their M models. And it's been downhill from there. Oh,
    I DO wish they'd hire a working 35mm photographer to help design the
    new camera. I, of course, am available. CHEAP!
     
  7. Bill

    <p>

    The first Leicaflex was introduced in 1965, the OM-1 in 1973 - the
    Olympus OM system seems to be virtually dead and the OM-1 certainly
    is. The R8 is a superb camera actually and has clearly been designed
    for a working photographer - in fact it is one of the easiest cameras
    to use, M or R. I suspect that many M users discount the reflexes
    because of their size (and in addition to having non-rangefinder
    viewing). However the current size of most 35mm SLRs shows that the
    trend of having small reflexes has past, so the R8 should have no
    trouble competing. If you want a reflex that is small, anyway, the
    R6.2 fits the bill - it is smaller than most others on the market and
    is a superb working photographer's tool. It has very few
    idiosyncracies. The M's certainly have quite a few idiosyncracies.
    Personally, I have always felt that Leica have not marketed
    themselves with anything like the skill of the Japanese manufacturers
    who embraced wholeheartedly the US style of appealing direct to the
    public. They are doing much better now, but it is still poor in
    comparison. I do think that if the Japanese had continmued to sell
    rangefinders through the sixties and seventies then the M leica would
    probably be extinct. In fact, they switched completely to reflexes to
    great success. They finished off the great Contarex and Voigtlander
    lines, but happily not the Leicaflex. Leica is right to aim high, so
    it needs great handling abilities and great optics. Now it needs
    marketing muscle and investment to continue the development of new
    killer optics, which are the heart of the Leica system M or R. The
    trouble is to convince people that this optical and mechanical
    quality is worth paying for - that is where the marketing comes in.
    We think it is worth paying for - but we may be deluded.
     

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