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Since Pentax were taken over by Ricoh last year, there’s been a lot of speculation as to what that would mean for the product line ups of both brands.
A little while back the company announced that the imaging sectors of both brands were to merge, becoming Pentax-Ricoh. They have since decided how the company’s branding will work for future models.
The Ricoh brand will be used for Compact Cameras.
There’s a few points that should be considered.
- What happens to the Ricoh GXR camera system?
- What happens to the names of all the existing Pentax Compact Camera lines?
- Can Ricoh branded Compact Cameras gain traction in a declining market?
What happens to the Ricoh GXR camera system?
I would not be overly optimistic about about the GXR continuing. It is very much a niche enthusiast product, and it’s nature of selling lens plus sensor modules to attach to a digital back makes it expensive to buy.
Pentax-Ricoh need to have some clarity in their vision for the way forward for their Compact System Camera (CSC) offerings. At the moment they have; the Pentax Q (Compact Camera size sensor, with no quality gain from a good Point & Shoot), the Pentax K-01 (decent camera but no smaller than a DSLR, poor ergonomics, and no viewfinder), and the Ricoh GXR (innovative idea that never took off for reasons already stated).
In other words Pentax-Ricoh have 3 different CSC options, none of which is going to bring them significant sales volumes. The Q, K-01, and the GXR are all innovative and interesting, but ultimately flawed. They need to produce something else.
The Micro 4/3 and the Sony E Mount specifications are open without charge to developers, so perhaps the next Pentax CSC might do well to join an established system. (Hint) If they joined the E Mount with some new high quality lenses, then there’s some real sales potential there.
What happens to the names of all the existing Pentax Compact Camera lines?
The answer is I really don’t know. We may see the same designations just with Ricoh where Pentax used to be, or we may get a rationalization of the product lines with completely different names.
In other words if you have a Pentax model that you like and would upgrade to a newer version thereof, you might have to do a bit of digging in order to find what you’re looking for.
Can Ricoh branded Compact Cameras gain traction in a declining market?
Unfortunately, I think the company has goofed here. The Ricoh brand is just not well known and so lacks trust. While Pentax has done very poorly at getting its name known, Ricoh is a complete unknown to 99% of the camera buying population. For the re-branding to work, they are going to need to throw an awful lot of money on advertising (including prime time TV).
To be honest, I would have branded all the cameras as Pentax and worked hard on a brand relaunch, giving a new emphasis on quality. Pentax has a tendency to make their products look somehow lacking in sophistication compared to their rivals, that needs addressing given the market is being squeezed from below. There must be a refocus towards higher end products.
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