Originally Posted by CameraQuest
Other Japanese camera makers seem to be profitable (Sony, Fuji, perhaps Ricoh)
Are their camera divisions profitable?
I doubt it.
Sony makes money from sensors, most of which don't go into consumer cameras. (I remember an article several years ago in Bloomberg where the outgoing COE of Sony said the only profitable part of the business was the employees life insurance - they were essentially a life insurance company that lost money selling TVs).
Fuji makes money from its chemical division, perhaps the instant film makes a little money, but I'm not sure it would be enough to offset the other camera areas.
Ricoh? Highly unlikely.
I don't think any camera company makes money from consumer goods except Leica and maybe Canon, and historically Nikon. For all the rest, making cameras is a hobby that is allowed to continue either because the company sees some benefit to other divisions (through either brand recognition or R&D overlap) or they are trying to save face and not admit they've failed. There just isn't the volume anymore to sustain the immense amount of development and infrastructure that making a digital camera requires. Soon the only manufactures left will be small niche players. Recently Leica has been the only small niche manufacture, but very soon the pro (and prosumer) DSLR will also be a niche product, and consumer DSLRs (D3000 series) won't exist. Smartphones will take every advantage they had and turn it into software within the next 10 years. The only advantage a dedicated camera will have is direct physical tactile buttons (shutter) and dials (zoom, manual focus, and aperture).