I spoke with my Konica sales rep this afternoon and have some more information on the merger. Aparently Konica did not notify any of its reps or employees before announcing the merger. Speculation within the company is that Minolta with retain the camera brand while the Konica brand will focus on film, paper, chemisty, and digital supplies.
It looks like the merger has more to do with office and business machines with the photo side as an afterthought.
The companies aim to cut 4,000 jobs by 2005, from their combined work force of 38,500. The companies also hope to trim 50 billion yen ($418 million) in costs a year.
My sales rep tells me that Konica has a slight majority in the merger, which is most likely a very good thing. Traditionally, Konica has been a much more responsive company on many levels including repairs, retail, and to the dealer. Their engineering is well done, their cameras outperform and outlast some of the bigger manufacturers. They don’t have a vast line of digital cameras, but the ones they make (except for that crappy 2 megapixel one) are feature packed and of high quality.
Unfortunately I don’t share the same enthusiasm for Minolta. I’ve never seen a sales rep from Minolta (and I’ve been working photo retail for seven years now). Their products are good but not great. They should discontinue their line of SLRs, as nobody takes them seriously. They are quite bad about discontinuing parts for their cameras. I will say that I’m completely satisfied with my Minolta Autometer IVF, which I’ve been using since I was a kid.
I really hope that the Konica Way prevails.
Disclaimer: I don’t think any NDAs were violated in my conversation this afternoon, but my apologies if there were.