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VERY interesting Sony manager interview: A-mount was a failure, they were close to join MFT, E-mount original idea was to make super compact cameras


Nikkei Business has published an interview with Mr. Shigeki Ishizuka, Vice Chairman of the Sony Group, looking back on the company’s digital camera trajectory. And we finally got some real insider news about Sony’s past digital camera business decisions!

Here are a couple of highlights from Digicameinfo (Google translated):

  1. The first model that came out after business integration with Konica Minolta was the “α100“. After that, “α700“, “α200” and “α350” were released. Only the first model, the α100, sold a little, but the rest were not very good in terms of sales.
  2. In 2008, we released a Full Frame high-end single-lens reflex camera called “α900“. But unfortunately, it didn’t sell either.
  3. Then, in 2009, we thought, “If we’re going to do this at Sony, we’re going to have to go electronic.” (that’s where the “translucent tech” idea was born with the A77 and A99 series).
  4. I can say it now, although we made various efforts like this, they weren’t very successful, and they were in the red all the time.
  5. Around 2007, the Micro Four Thirds camp asked me if I wanted to join the family.
  6. It was the fall of 2008. We had a brainstorming session for the medium-term plan for the next three years. Of course, Sony’s interchangeable-lens cameras would have to be made smaller and mirrorless. The question was, what kind of system should be used? One option was: “Let’s go Micro Four Thirds”. Option two was: “Let’s shift to mirrorless while maintaining the assets and brand of α, and do a miniaturized version.” I had a few other ideas, but these two were the most realistic.
  7. “If you do it with Micro Four Thirds, it will definitely be smaller,”. But if we would have done that, we would have been completely on the same playing field as your competitors. And we would have wasted all α assets from Konica Minolta. So we decided it was better to develop an in-house mirrorless solution. That is the “E-mount” that continues to this day.
  8. To be honest, at the time I thought the mirrorless idea was to make a small camera that could fit in a pocket and was aimed at general consumers. That’s why I didn’t intend to create a full lineup of lenses, only the standard series.
  9. And no, I didn’t think at that moment that mirrorless would go Full Frame.

In summary:

  1. The A-mount system was a failure from a business point of view
  2. In 2008 they seriously considered to join the MFT system
  3. The E-mount system original idea was to create a super compact system. There was no plan to create a full lineup of lenses and also there was no idea to go Full frame.

I am glad Mr. Shigeki Ishizuka spilled out that info. It’s an honest assessments of Sony’s camera business history. I would also have loved to know how he sees the future of the E-mount system now!

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