SEOUL, Korea (AVING) -- <Visual News> On Feb. 17, the Olympus's third Micro Four Thirds type hybrid DSLR, 'PEN E-PL1' was introduced to Korea at Chosun Hotel in Sogong-dong. Since its first release, Olympus 'PEN Series' had broken away from showing just its purpose of simple photo shooting from a digital camera, and is a completely new look of decorating, showing, and breathing with its users. In existing DSLRs, there was no space to show one's distinct individuality. All the models stressing design offered was the various colors and giving some design points to the camera. It was a reality that there was no other way to decorate and design a DSLR camera.
Cultural Analogy of i-Phone and PEN
The release of Olympus PEN enabled users to express their style on the stiff and cold feel of digital camera looking so distant from expressing one's own distinct individuality. Users with a sense of youth who have always wanted to show their own distinct individuality and uniqueness started creating another trend through PEN and are called 'PENIa.'
In a way, these characteristics resemble Apple i-Phone. Because the specification of i-Phone is unified, there are a lot of cases with various design and accessories being released all over the world, and i-Phone users express themselves through these various accessories and form a unique sense of bond only i-Phone users enjoy while expressing themselves, meeting, and sharing their data. i-Phone showed a fresh shock of being able to design and decorate it unlike its existing counterparts. And in this sense of leading 'the culture of decorating and showing' and always being together, the DNA of i-Phone, Olympus PEN has a lot in common.
(Photo Caption: 'PEN E-PL1,' the 3rd micro four third digital camera opened to the public on the 17th)
The biggest features of PEN is that by making the functions of DSLR light weight, you can put it in a small handbag and always carry it with you as seen in the picture above. The life style aspect of being always with the user like this is one of the reasons this unique culture of 'PENIa' was born.
(Photo Caption: At the announcement event, fashion models held a runway show with Olympus 'PEN E-PL1.' It seems the fashion models made an appearance with Greek goddess dresses because Olympus was taken from a name of a mountain in an ancient Greek myth.)
(Photo Caption: Olympus Korea CEO, Bang Il-seok is introducing the new release, 'PEN E-PL1' and talking about the future outlook of hybrid DSLR)
At the PEN E-PL1 announcement ceremony, while hearing Olympus Korea CEO Bang Il-seok talking about the present and future outlook of hybrid DSLRs, I was able to see that consumers had a high preference for hybrid type technology. Olympus presented a blue print that the potential demands for hybrid is up to 20%, and within 5 years, hybrids will record a market share surpassing DSLRs by 2014, and Olympus will lead the market by recording 50% in market shares. This is a very aggressive stance and the grounds of this confidence may be certainly related to the active role PEN series is playing right now.
According to Olympus, ever since its release, PEN has grown by 4 times in 6 months and 3 times in 1 year, and is taking up 16.5% of the DSLR market. Based on these numbers, in some ways, the reason Olympus is so confident right now is obvious. In fact, it is not difficult to meet somebody using PEN around you. While watching Olympus, which used to be shrinking and bog downed in the DSLR and compact digital camera sector, quickly preoccupying the market through the PEN series supporting another type of four third, it seems now is the right time for a corporation that had been dreaming of innovation and putting it into action while enduring unspeakable hardships to reap sweet fruit
(Photo Caption: User Communication Assistant Manager, Lee Du-hyeong is explaining the newly added functions and a photo taken by PEN E-PL1)
(Photo Caption: Korean Talent Jo Min-gi and new generation professional photographer Gu Song-i who are active as the evangelist of Olympus PEN is personally showing off what they have taken, giving their impression on using the camera and taking a pose.)
PENIa and i-Phone
I have briefly thought that there was something lacking in Olympus showing their confidence on PEN and hybrid DSLRs just by looking at items appearing in numbers. But there was another reason CEO Bang Il-seok had great confidence. That is the presence 'PENIa' mentioned earlier. As they not only take photos with existing digital cameras but form a community and show off their PEN designed and decorated by themselves through offline meetings, PENIas are creating a unique culture not seen anywhere else while breathing a new and formless energy into PEN. I think about the bond of PENIas being similar to that felt by users of i-Phone. i-Phone users does not just think of their i-Phone as just a cell phone but as another alter ego and as they invest their time and money, and create a design with their own colors, they are at the head of the pack in spreading i-Phone culture to other people. I think PENIas are the same way. As the PEN series line-up grow, there will be more PENIas, and they will be a great force in increasing the sales of the product by becoming an evangelist of PEN. I think this is why CEO Bang Il-seok is counting on the hybrid DSLR, 'PEN' and their PENIas.
(Photo Caption: While the culture of PENIa making a diverse new culture only for themselves is similar to the culture of i-Phones, there is something similar to the automobile brand of BMW MINI as well.)
(Photo Caption: The PEN series newly customized with a new design that was on display was brilliant. PENIas were expressing their own unique individuality through a different design. Just as i-Phone accessory industry is booming and reaping profit, we look forward to the accessory industry through PEN.)
'PEN' Series, A Welcome Rain
Nobody foresaw Olympus emerging as a powerful force in the hybrid market as they released PEN E-P1. While watching the popularity of PEN, we were able to see the demands of consumers longing for something positioned between a DSLR and a compact camera was embedded in the subconscious more than expected. Just as we didn't anticipate APPLE i-Phone to be a huge success in the Korean market because i-Phone was like a long-awaited rain to consumers who had been waiting for a more innovative cell phone, we are sure PEN would have felt like a welcome rain after a long wait to the users dreaming of a new type of digital camera the size of a compact digital camera with the performance of a DSLR.
Although Olympus is paving its way as the forerunner in the hybrid DSLR market through the PEN series, there is still a long way to go for them to be content with this position. Panasonic using the same micro four third system is spurring its development and Samsung that has jumped into the same category with its 'NX10' is a formidable competitor. Moreover, we are not sure what kind of action Sony and the absolute powers in the existing DSLR market like Canon and Nikon will take in the future. But it is certainly a fact that they will not just be spectators observing the hybrid DSLR market which is growing day by day.
As a related person of Olympus has said, it seems it would be good for the pie to grow with many competitors jumping into the market because it is better to sell 10,000 units in a 100 thousand market than selling 1,000 in a market of 10 thousand units. Now it's up to Olympus to display its innovation to determine whether they will end up with the bigger portion of the pie or lose it in a market that is growing more competitive.