It wasn’t all that long ago that DJI bought a minority interest in German camera maker Hasselblad, to explore how developing larger format cameras for a drone could be done. Now the word on the street is that the leading drone maker is going all in with a complete acquisition of the company.
“It seems that everyone inside Hasselblad knows about this, as well as some distributors and resellers. You can’t keep something this big a secret for very long, eventually, it is going to get out.” – Kevin Raber, Luminous Landscape
This isn’t an official announcement just yet, but according to “reliable sources” by Luminous Landscape, DJI has expanded their investment in the company and now owns a majority share. What prompted the investment may have been that Hasselblad was spending money hand over fist in an effort to develop a line of medium format digital cameras to evolve and compete in the digital marketplace. DJI was looking to expand into more camera platforms and so it seemed that getting a minority share of the company could be the answer to all Hasselblad’s financial troubles.
Now a year later, it looks like they’ve quietly expanded their investment to own a majority share. Why quietly? Well, DJI’s manufacturing is in China, while Hasselblad is in Europe. It could be the company plans to move the brand closer to their manufacturing base, which would have a dramatic impact on jobs in Sweden.
Then there’s the sales impact… Like many companies that have tried to evolve from film to digital, Hasselblad has been struggling with reinventing itself and getting some market share in the new digital paradigm. DJI can give it a shot in the arm by adding a new line of larger platform drones that have a medium format camera array. But only when it’s ready.
Then there’s the Hasselblad X1D and H6 line of medium format digital cameras that the company has been working on bringing to market. What will happen to them and the pre-orders that have been done? I’m sure that those will be fulfilled.
But there’s no doubt that DJI will make changes to the company to fulfill the vision which prompted its acquisition. And while some would express fear about a Chinese company having bought such a prolific name brand, another iconic Swedish company, Volvo, was saved by Chinese carmaker Zhejiang Geely in 2010. Even though they have opened two factories in China, they claim to be “more Swedish than ever.”
Only time will tell if the future of such an iconic name brand in our industry will have a future or merely be absorbed into the new company. But the potential of a larger drone platform carrying Hasselblad cameras is an exciting one from a professional point of view. And it would also bring the company back to its aerial photography roots.
During World War II, the company was started to create an aerial camera for the Swedish military, and that ultimately led to the iconic images of the Apollo moon landings 20 years later. Now its future may be quite literally back up in the air.