Hours after Kodak announced it was seeking bankruptcy protection, the Rochester-based imaging company was quick to reaffirm that its film division will survive the company's restructuring as long as it remains profitable.
"Film (still and cinema) remains a profitable business for Kodak, and we have the broadest and most respected portfolio of films in both segments," Audrey Jonckheer, Kodak's worldwide director of marketing and public relations, tells BJP.
"We have taken steps to sustain the business as it has declined, and we know that there are hundreds of passionate fans of film for the artistic and quality reasons they cite."
Over the past three years, Kodak has streamlined its range of professional films, introducing or relaunching products such as the Ektar 100, Portra 160 and Portra 400 [read our test of the film here].
Jonckheer adds: "We remain committed to make film as long as there is profitable demand for it. And as I noted, it is still profitable."
In 2010, Kodak's marketing manager for professional film at Kodak, argued that there was a real resurgence for film across the world. But, argues BJP's technical writer Jonathan Eastland, Kodak is not doing enough to sustain the business. "Kodak needs to look at what is its core business. What make them think that digital printing will push their share price up? For Kodak to make digital printers their core business is laughable."
Instead, says Eastland, Kodak should truly embrace its historical status as a master of film photography. "Each time Kodak has discontinued a film, they used the excuse that it represented less than a certain percentage of their turnover, but it's still a percentage of a very large niche market. There are still millions of photographers around the world that are using film, and not hundreds as Kodak seems to suggest [see Jonckheer's statement above]."
Eastland adds: "Kodak's got to go back and crunch their numbers about the film market. All people want are these little yellow boxes of film, and that should be their core business, even it means reducing the company's size further. Kodak needs to hire people that actually know about film photography. It needs to market it properly and set up some great labs in strategic places with great customer service."
Silverprint, a UK distributor and retailer of film equipment, agrees, stating that "over the last 12 months our sales figures of traditional film and paper have risen." It adds, on its Facebook page: "Silverprint has never been more determined in our commitment to supplying all our analog users worldwide, with everything they require to enjoy and develop both their careers or simply their love of analog photography. We feel that the press has currently converted the KODAK Story from "133 Year Old Company...Dead!"...to "Film...DEAD!". This is simply not the case, both in terms of sales figures and the current online buzz surrounding analog imagery and techniques. Variety is the spice of life and surely we are all commited to that idea!"
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