Less than a month after announcing that it would seek bankruptcy protection in the US, Kodak has announced that it will stop the production of digital cameras and picture frames, as well as pocket-size video cameras.
"For some time, Kodak's strategy has been to improve margins in the capture device business by narrowing our participation in terms of product portfolio, geographies and retail outlets. Today's announcement is the logical extension of that process, given our analysis of the industry trends," says Pradeep Jotwani, Kodak's chief marketing officer.
However, the firm has moved to reassure film photographers. "Kodak's continuing consumer products and services will include the traditional film capture and photographic paper business, which continues to provide high-quality and innovative products and solutions to consumers, photographers, retailers, photofinishers and professional labs," it says in a statement.
The news comes as Kodak is undergoing a wide-ranging strategic review of its businesses with the "commitment to drive sustainable profitability through its most valuable business lines." But Kodak is quick to point out that the move won't mean the end for Kodak-branded digital cameras. Instead, the firm plans to license its brand to third-party manufacturer - a move that mirrors Polaroid's action in the years leading to and following its own bankruptcy.
Kodak says that it has contacted its retail partners, and is working closely with them to ensure an orderly transition. "Kodak will continue to honor all related product warranties, and provide technical support and service for its cameras, pocket video cameras and digital picture frames."
Kodak also plans to focus its resources on retail-based photo kiosks and digital dry lab systems, consumer inkjet printers and the Kodak Gallery.
Two weeks ago, BJP's technical writer Jonathan Eastland argued that Kodak needed to refocus its business around its film division. "What make them think that digital printing will push their share price up? For Kodak to make digital printers their core business is laughable," he said. "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. 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."
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