Kodak Gets Out Of The Digital Camera Business

Kodak, the company whose name was once synonymous with photography, announced today that it will phase out its digital cameras, pocket video cameras and digital picture frames during the first half of this year, as it fights to crawl out from under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Described as “a result of its ongoing strategic review process and commitment to drive sustainable profitability through its most valuable business lines,” this move away from digital photography will allow the troubled company to focus on its photo-printing services and desktop inkjet printing.

Once a dominant player in the consumer film camera world, Kodak’s market share shrank as consumer switched to digital cameras and mobile devices with cameras. It filed for bankruptcy protection in January, hoping to raise money by selling off more than 1,000 of the company’s patents.

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  1. rugman11 says:

    Is anybody else surprised that “photo-printing services and desktop inkjet printing” are Kodak’s most profitable business lines?

    • dwtomek says:

      Presumably those lines lose them less money than their other lines lose them. At least that’s what I’m guessing.

    • jerry101 says:

      That may be their most profitable segment, but their real plan is to make money off of other companies camera sales. Suing other companies (canon,Nikon, apple, samsung, etc) for violating kodak’s digital photography patents and making them pay damages and/or buy (or license) the IP from Kodak. Kodak says they invented like everything digital photography related, but they couldn’t be bothered with making any effort to compete. So, they just sue companies that did decide to (presumably) independently develop at least some of the technology, and ride off their success. Which will be a viable plan for what? 5 years? Until the technology moves forward and the patents start expiring.

      And, unfortunately for Kodak, the whole photo printing business is a dying tech too. I’m probably not the only one who hasn’t printed a digital photo (at home or at retail) in years. Now, with the cloud and iPads, who needs more than a few printed photos around. Not like you need photo albums anymore. Sure, there are still commercial needs, but nothing that would sustain a company like Kodak for a long time, especially since there’s a ton of competition for both paper and ink.

      Tis a shame. The big K could be a cutting edge tech company now. Instead, they’re an oversized version of one of those patent infringement law firms (the ones that buy old patents for chump change and then find ways to claim big companies are violating ‘their’ patents and rake in the cash once the lawsuits are done)

  2. Cat says:

    I am not sure this is a good move, although I understand the thinking behind it.

    A camera is a one-time purchase. Photo printing uses consumables, and will provide an income stream that selling cameras does not. There’s plenty of companies that will make cameras. Kodak is counting on being the company to make prints. Now, if only they could get Fuji out of some major retailers – I feel that Kodak prints are superior to Fuji.

    And lets not forget the HUGE profit margin on ink, and how often it needs to be replaced.

    • cparkin says:

      Not just ink but paper too.

    • PHRoG says:

      Who needs gold when you’ve got ink!

      • Back to waiting, but I did get a cute dragon ear cuff says:

        Actually, Kodak’s marketing for it’s printers brag about the low ink cost. They (supposedly) charge a regular fair price for the printer so while they make a profit on ink, they are not subsidizing the printer manufacturing with it.

        • Firevine says:

          They lie their asses off about those cartridges too. They claim 770 pages out of the 10xl black. I know to take that with a grain of salt and all, but when I customer asked about it, and I told her, I swear I thought this woman was going to keel over from laughter. I have heard countless complaints about those turd printers. An ink cartridge can be “cheap” all day long, but if it doesn’t last there’s no value, and they end up being just as big a ripoff as Lexmarks. I’ve sold hundreds of remans on those cartridges, and nearly everyone has hated the printer.

  3. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I thought that Kodak did movie film at some point.

    • Cat says:

      They still do.

      • Rachacha says:

        However, with professional digital movie cameras dropping in price and increasing in quality, I believe more and more movies are being shot, edited, and distributed digitally, so for the short term, professional film may still be a profit center, in probably 5 years or less, all films will shot and distributed digitally.

        • OSAM says:

          I wouldnt say 5 years, but certainly in the future, yes. We’re getting very close to film when it comes to video, but it’s still got a few advantages (dynamic range being a big one).

  4. Conformist138 says:

    Poor Kodak. Even in all my print photography classes, I never once used your products. Even in the world of dark rooms and print photography, Kodak is not the big name it once was. Most students used Ilford.

    • SporadicBlah says:

      Went through 8 years of college in photographic arts starting in the early 90s. All anyone ever used was Kodak chemicals and paper. No one purchased Ilford out of close to 50 students. Most of us shot PanX. TMax hadn’t even come out yet.

    • stevenpdx says:

      Even about 100 years ago, when was in high school, we used Fuji film, chemicals and paper in our photography classes. School must’ve had some sort of contract with them.

  5. rlmiller007 says:

    Forget ink. For quality we should be using dye-sublimation printers. Dyes are what is used to create a “real” phograph. Color and longevity are far better than ink printers. C’mon kodak I would pay extra money for such quality.

    • Jimmy60 says:

      Dye sub prints have a life expectancy of between 30 and 70 years which makes them about the same as drug store lab prints. It’s all about the paper. Currently the best life expectancy is pigmented ink-jet on acid free, rag paper at about 125 years. Dye based and wet process on similar paper is around 100 years. Dye sub printing does produce nice prints. I’ve always liked them.

      Cheap ink jet papers will sometimes only last a couple of years. Acids in the paper eat the image.

      A person can now print color images at home that will blow away a drug store lab for quality for far, far less than it ever cost to set up a color darkroom. Some of the papers that are available are just gorgeous. They just aren’t cheap.

      A good print on good paper will never be matched by a computer screen.

  6. Actionable Mango says:

    Where’s all the damn receipt checker stories???

    Consumerist.com, sometimes I feel like I don’t even know who you are any more!

  7. mikedt says:

    I’m guessing that within the next couple of years, Kodak will exist only in the courts, suing others for patent infringement.

  8. Costner says:

    A couple years ago I read that Kodak had surpassed Nikon to become the world’s second most popular camera company (behind Canon). A lot of that was due to their low priced entry level (disposable) digital cameras, and they also seemed to be doing better in the handheld video camera market.

    My thought is even if they broke even on the entire line, it would still be a good idea to offer them because it builds brand loyalty. People who own a kodak camera (or had a film version years ago) might be more apt to swing towards kodak printers or to use kodak printing services.

    Sorry Kodak… I think this is a bonehead move unless you are bleeding red ink from the entire camera division.

    • jerry101 says:

      Kodak declared bankruptcy a few weeks ago.. Not the Borders kind, but still the kind where you’re bleeding a lot of red ink pretty much all over.

  9. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Focusing on paper-centric products in an increasingly paperless world? Brilliant!

  10. aleck says:

    I printed maybe 100 pictures last year. All of them were for my grandma who does not own a computer. I think Kodak has nailed the recovery strategy perfectly.

    • El_Fez says:

      Where I’m the complete reverse. Nothing beats a picture that you can hold and look at and put in a shoebox under your bed for your kids to find 40 years from now. I like things – CDs, photos, books – I can touch and feel.

      This completely digital world is for the birds!

  11. gman863 says:

    I expect the name Kodak will reappear on digital cameras and equipment soon when a cheap Chinese manufacturer pays to license the Kodak name.

    It’s similar to Polaroid: Their name is all over memory cards, TV sets and other cheap electronics even though Polaroid officially went belly up years ago.

  12. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Oh dear. I guess I’d better buy some SD cards for my EasyShare camera. I love that little thing.

    • gman863 says:

      You can use any brand of SD card (Kingston, PNY, SanDisk, etc.) in a Kodak digital camera.

      The only restriction is the card’s capacity cannot exceed the maximum capacity (example: 2GB) stated in your owner’s manual. Attempting to use a higher capacity card – even if it initially works – will cause data loss.

  13. El_Fez says:

    When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I can think at all. . . . .

  14. exscind says:

    Kodak digital cameras are absolute rubbish so their fate is deserved. The real loss here is the disappearance of film-based cinematography.

    • Rachacha says:

      They may be, but they are simple and relatively easy to use…perfect for the older generations. My parents are using an old HP camera (hand-me-down from my brother) and they can never figure out how to get their pictures off of the camera. They recently got a Kodak EasyShare and they just dock the camera and their pictures are automatically downloaded.

  15. Tacojelly says:

    Kodak, just stop. From now on you serve only the professional market. Film will be needed in medical, science, and art industries for a while still; this just means you need to restructure your company.

  16. SporadicBlah says:

    Kodak has a GREAT pocket video camera. Its called the PlaySport. Shoots 1080pHD on an SD card and is waterproof. I noticed in Dec when I got mine they were discontinuing them. Got mine for half price bc of that. If your in the market, check them out. Snag one before they are gone. I LOVE mine!

    • watcher says:

      Agree — an excellent pocket video camera!

    • Sparkstalker says:

      I’ve got a Kodak Zi6 that I bought when my daughter was born. It’s a great little video camera. Unfortunately for Kodak, this is another market the smartphone has mortally wounded.

  17. fordprefect says:

    & though my life of education hasn’t hurt me none,
    I can read the writing on the wall.

    Kodachrooooooome…

  18. sjb says:

    The market for the non-SLR style cameras is on the decline. Several of the major camera manufactures are dropping several of the small digital camera lines because of this. The larger full size / higher end cameras seem to be doing good.

    Kodak does not produce a camera that can compete with the digital SLR cameras that are out there.

  19. KyBash says:

    It’s been decades since I let my Nikons and Pentax go by the wayside. About a year ago, I bought a Kodak Zi8 on clearance.

    It’s a perfect little camera for my needs!

    It’s sad to think of what overpriced, complicated POS I’ll have to buy if it ever dies.

  20. NC106PH says:

    There will always probably be niche market for film cameras, film, processing, etc. They should refresh their brand (or a division of it) to sell to people that like and do everything with film. At least it would focus them on something…rather than scatter shot trying to be relevant.

  21. watcher says:

    I have several Kodak digital cameras and found them to be excellent. While I’m sad to see the camera line go, it doesn’t surprise me. Kodak has undoubtedly seen the rise in photo/camera quality on smart phones. Couple that with the rise in popularity of the small tablet PC, the need for pocket cameras will continue to decrease.

    Where I still see a market for small digital cameras is the space between the phone/tablet camera and the DSLR. More of a “prosumer” product that has the advanced features of the DSLR, but not the flexibility and cost. Even then, the phone/tablet market will continue to erode that space.

    I still have my old 35MM Nikon “F” series cameras and lenses, but don’t use them much. The pocket cameras are often “good enough” for general shooting.

  22. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    The “The Digital Camera” part seems superfluous.

  23. RiverStyX says:

    Not surprised. I bought a Kodak on clearance a few months back and only -slightly- dropped it. The lcd screen was completely messed up, had to send it in. I’ve dropped cameras far worse then this was and they were all fine. Should still be under warranty, no problem right?

    They sent me an email to keep track of the status and it said “Being repaired” for about a week then it froze on “Waiting on customer approval” for about three weeks. Finally I had to email them and ask what the hold up was, they informed me that they needed $60 to fix the screen and that my warranty was not valid for this. I only paid $30 for the camera, so that was obviously a rotten deal. They said they would send the camera back to me but I never got it.

    I sent them some hate mail and vowed to never support them again, and I never will.