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back to article Hard-up Kodak selling consumer film biz

Hard-up Kodak is selling its consumer film, scanner and photo kiosk businesses as part of a restructuring. Chief executive Antonio Perez announced the news on Thursday, saying Kodak was shedding its personalised imaging and document imaging units as part of restructuring to help the company exit US Chapter 11 bankruptcy …

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Film/film ambiguity

So they're keeping their "commercial film" (is this motion film?) but getting rid of the consumer stuff? (I assume they don't mean commercial vs consumer photographic film.) And they're keeping their ink jets; really?

I hope someone picks up the slack. Otherwise, I'll be off to stock up on Portra - to go with my stocking up on Velvia after Fuji discontinued that. They're not making it easy to buy into a 5x4 camera system...

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Unhappy

They're finished

There's nothing left once the patents have gone. Printers are a profitless commodity market and movies are rapidly going digital too. Kodak's last hope was as a small niche player in the b/w film market (like Ilford; b/w was superseded in the mass market 60 years ago and never much affected by digital), but they've thrown that out too. Rarely has a company been so poorly managed as Kodak.

I have 10 years' worth of b/w film in the freezer, though.

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Re: Ilford film

Those who pay any attention at all to my posts will know I live in France, near Lille. A couple of years ago I was surprised to discover that the FNAC[*] nearest where I live still stocks some 35mm film, including rolls of Ilford B/W film...

[*] For those who don't know, FNAC (sometimes written "fnac") is a substantial retail chain in France, selling books, CDs and DVDs, tickets for concerts and other events, computers, mobile phones, and other assorted electronics, etc. The "etc." part evidently includes Ilford film...

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Re: They're finished

I doubt they would want to make profit from printer hardware, but they will from printer ink.

I assume the chemicals business would include it.

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Re: They're finished

They are/were the major supplier in industrial colour printing (books, magazines, catalogues, packaging).

Based on a 100years of expertise in colour they were doing quite well in the area until they got a nasty dose of management.

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Re: They're finished

"Kodak's last hope was as a small niche player in the b/w film market (like Ilford"

Kodak was always a large, mass-market company, and a niche market like black-and-white film- even if profitable- won't be able to save them in their current form. It's like comparing a small paper shop turning a decent profit (*for its size*) versus a large but obsolete supermarket trying to keep itself open on the profits made by the small newspaper section at the front of the store. Those profits wouldn't even come close to covering the whole superstore's running costs.

Kodak will not survive in its current form. They are a large company built primarily around a large consumer film market that no longer exists. For that reason, there would be no point restructuring them to continue their old business (like happened with General Motors).

Ironically, I'm guessing that Kodak had to reach the point of legal bankruptcy to be able to make the changes necessary to the existing organisation surviving in *any* form- the amount of investment, associated employees and legal liabilities related to their existing (mass market film-based) operations would otherwise probably have made this impossible.

And once this restructuring has been done, the question is whether there would be any point in trying to keep the "old" Kodak (or anything like it) together when the core reason for having all those (formerly) secondary parts in one company disappeared with the mass market for film.

I suspect the various parts will be split up and sold off. The name will certainly remain, possibly licensed to whoever buys out and continues the (professional and niche amateur) remains of Kodak's film business, and also quite probably whored out to random distributors who want to exploit the name recognition to shift generic electronic tat (a la "Polaroid" LCD televisions, and similar cases with countless other defunct company brands).

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Terminator

END OF DAYS!!

Someone please keep producing BW400CN, it's my bread and butter!

Someone remind me why we can't have nice things?

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Devil

Deliberate Mismanagement by Antonio Perez

Folks,

This is nothing new, it was discussed years ago and has been part of Carly Fiorina's protege's (Perez) plan for a long time. Unfortunately, Perez's actions are no longer rare in business but they are completely deliberate. Much more of the same if Romney is voted in.

They are using the HP/GE management philosophy to "Maximize shareholder profits at the expense of an entire companies' heritage and brain trust".

They are literally burning Kodak to the ground. They already sold most of their film making technology to the Chinsese in 2006. I know because a good friend was literally held captive against his will in China while they finished the new plant.

They will reap everything they can from the sale of their intelectual properties, give all the profit to the shareholders (mostly to themselves) and eventually sell off the printer business to HP or Lexmark.

If there is anything left, they will just fire everyone and go bankrupt so they don't have any pension and environmental liabilities.

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FAIL

So they think that the market

For commercial film and chemicals is ripe for growth?

That was the kind of idiot decision that got them where they are now. If they have any sense whatsoever they'll ditch film completely, keep the patents and try to leverage their way back into digital imaging (not printers, it's easy to see that competing on having cheaper ink is a losing proposition).

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Re: So they think that the market

The first thing they sold was their CCD division. They used to make the best CCDs and in colour performance they still are pretty near the top. But it's too easy to make customs CMOS imagers these days even for high end cameras.

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Re: So they think that the market

I agree that it seems unlikely, in the time that everyone's moving to Red and other digital imagers and shooting stereo at 60fps. I do think that ditching the consumer film industry is a mistake, in that they have a small but loyal base and, like Ilford, someone continuing to make Kodak film stock will always have a market, especially in the formats not supplanted by digital. But since Kodak have been mis-judging the film market since APS and Disc Film, I'm not sure that they have a concept of sticking to what works (even if, admittedly, the market has shrunk a lot).

In as much as anyone's printing anything at all these days (the vast majority of images stay in digital form), a lot of people are either using commercial print services or local shops - because they're plenty good enough and more convenient. Of those who print a lot at home, as far as I know the big names in photo ink jets are Epson, HP and Canon, with companies like Lexmark and Kyocera sniffing around. I'm vaguely aware that Kodak make printers, but I've never been under the impression that the had a significant market segment. If nobody's buying your printers, you can't make money on the ink; if you make budget printers rather than the market leader, it's more likely that your customers will buy cheap off-brand ink.

Kodak have never been a leader in (consumer) digital imaging - they're just not an electronics company, and they're not going to compete with Canon, Panasonic and Sony. They don't have the optical and ergonomic background of Nikon or Pentax that allowed those companies to get a foot-hold in the digital market - Kodak haven't been a halo brand name for cameras in a very long time.

They're a film company. They've been a film company for a very long time. That the market for film has drastically shrunk is unfortunate for them, but trying to reinvent themselves into other sectors where they've not been successful isn't going to make them great. From a customer's perspective, I'd like them to continue doing the things that only Kodak do (making some proprietary emulsions), cut their costs, and try to find some new area in which to invest. Throwing out their only unique products while attempting to become a profitable box shifter for consumer goods doesn't seem like a viable long-term strategy.

My only hope is that someone like Fujifilm decide to pick up the film plant and keep making the emulsions, but given that they, too, are discontinuing some films, I don't have much hope. Maybe the Impossible Project will pick it up.

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Pint

Re: So they think that the market

"...if you make budget printers rather than the market leader, it's more likely that your customers will buy cheap off-brand ink."

No need with Kodak inkjet printers. Their ink is priced quite reasonably, as are the printers. About $10 for a black cartridge and about $25 for the colour cartridge. Quite inexpensive compared to the $120+ to replace all the cartridges in my old money-burning Canon. There's no comparison, Kodak has the least money-grubbing on-brand ink in the industry.

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This post has been deleted by its author

FAIL

Resurgence in high-end point n shoot

It's ironic as if they had stuck to the digital pro-sumer market, they might have had a chance at survival. Just look at all the high-end point-n-shoots coming onto the market right now:

Fuji X-series

Olympus XZ-1

Canon G1X

Sony RX100

Leica D-Lux

All of these are well over $500, some over $1000 and sell very well, so much so that they are often at a premium or out of stock. If Kodak had produced a high-end series of full-frame or APS-C compacts instead of focusing on the low-end crap, they might have had a viable, high-margin future. As it stands, there are few APS-C point & shoot models (Ricoh & Sigma IRC) and only one 'compact' full-frame (Leica M9). Never mind the emergence of mirrorless ILCs as a large, lucrative market.

Instead of innovating their way out of the mess, they just looked at spreadsheets and cut whatever was numerically marginal. It seems to be an American disease to cut innovation and retrench when the shit hits the fan....

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Pint

Kodachrome, Ektachrome, Plus-X - dearly departed

Although I was never partial to shooting Kodachrome myself, it provided the texture of my very early life in the 1970's and 1980/90's.

The most recent blow for me was the demise of Plus-X, a crisp and luscious black and white film with as much character as a classic film noir, but with such exquisite and sharp detail that never looked self-conciously retro. I am furious about the loss of this film.

Similarly, I never quite knew the beauty of Ektachrome 100GX until I shot a 120 roll in Slovenia two years ago and marvelled at the saturated, yet realistic colours. Perfect and perfectly life-like (unlike, say, Velvia 50 or that horror 100F).

I suppose I'm mourning a way of interpreting the world and the loss of a treasured raw material from which to make my image.

I just hope that Kodak manages to keep Tri-X around for many, many more years to come.

By the by, Portra 160 and 400 are truly AMAZING films in 120 - wide dynamic range, fine grain, vivid but realistic colour.

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But digital imaging is going to be 100 times better

I cannot see what assets Kodak has.

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Windows

Companies come and go....

There's no need for film anymore - except for the cinema, and that'll change.

In the same way as there's no need for 5.25" or 3½" floppies any more. When we get a phone implanted into our teeth, and a display in a pair of glasses, and Huawei marches in for the infrastructure, there won't be a need for companies like Nokia anymore (Oh, wait...we need to pillory some tw*at like Stephen Flop for our amusment.)

I'm gonna state he's a reincarnation of Adolph Hitler, just to prove Goodwin's law.

(Go on, press the red arrow! You know you want to...)

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Happy

Re: Companies come and go....

> except for the cinema, and that'll change.

That has changed already. It looks in a year or so films on, er, film will be as antique as 78rpm records.

Actual photographic film will live on as a niche artistic medium, made in small quantities by someone like Ilford. Just like photography itself did not stop the production of oil paints, brushes and easels.

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Kodak keeps commercial end, sells consumer end

Kodak is keeping the commercial end of things, like motion picture film, films for industrial uses like producing PC boards, and big industrial printers that you can feed a PDF at one end and get a bound book at the other. If the purchaser is another company or corporation, they'll be producing the product. This is an area where Kodak can be strong.

Kodak is selling its still film business, axing the consumer printers, and whatever other individual-sale types of things they have. Once upon a time, still film was 95% of Kodak's business, and movie film was 5%. Now it's the reverse, and Kodak is shedding everything it can.

What remains to be seen is who will buy the still film business. Lucky Film in China? I have no idea.

Whether or not Kodak survives this, you can bet that you won't see Kodak Tri-X again.

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Holmes

I didn't think Kodak was alive at all

I thought the original owners sold out and Kodak was bought by some lawyers. They sure put the Kodak name on crap consumer products.

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