Thursday, February 09, 2012

Kodak closes the shutter on its digital camera business

In a move that seems to bring a sad end to another once-giant in the photo industry, Eastman Kodak has announced it is pushing its digital camera business ino the same place that Polaroid's instant film business went: into the dustbin of history. The company, which misjudged the effect of digital cameras on photography, waited too long to enter the fray, and now will phase out all digital camera sales within the first half of 2012.

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Also going the way of the dodo will be digital photo frames and pocket video cameras. Kodak will instead focus heavily on brand licensing and on attracting companies that might need some of its patents. Still offered will be Kodak's inkjet printers, retail-based photo printing, and its online Kodak Gallery service.

The company had filed for Ch. 11 bankruptcy protection in January.

Pradeep Jotwani, president, consumer businesses, and Kodak chief marketing officer, said the following in a press release from the company,

"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.”

The company hopes to emerge from bankruptcy by next year. It has secured $950 million in debtor-in-possession financing to help it manage the process.

For some time, Kodak has been trying to sell some or all of its patent cache. The company currently holds over 1,000 digital imaging patents, and as we have seen of late, buying patents as protection against lawsuits seems to be a booming business.

When Google made its move to acquire Motorola, still awaiting federal approval, it was made quite clear that a big reason behind the acquisition was Motorola's patent hoard.

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