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Kodak Files For Bankruptcy Protection 190

Snirt writes "Following up on a story previously discussed here, it now appears Eastman Kodak, the company that invented the hand-held camera, has filed for bankruptcy protection. The move, according to Kodak's news release, gives the company time to reorganize itself without facing its creditors, and Kodak said it would mean business as normal for customers. The company has recently moved away from cameras, focusing on making printers to stem falling profits."
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Kodak Files For Bankruptcy Protection

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  • by sglewis100 ( 916818 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @10:15AM (#38747408)
    Wasn't their whole printer strategy selling printers with low cost ink [google.com]? So am I understanding this correctly - their camera business wasn't making money, so they entered into the printer business, but rather than sell low margin printers and high margin ink, they sell low margin printers and low margin ink?
  • Kodak vs Fuji (Score:5, Interesting)

    by michaelmalak ( 91262 ) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Thursday January 19, 2012 @10:16AM (#38747418) Homepage
    Fuji thrived while Kodak went bust. The Economist explains why [economist.com].
  • by PuddleBoy ( 544111 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @10:16AM (#38747420)

    For decades, Kodak was a technology company. Maybe not 'high tech' by a slashdot definition, but their film and paper production and (at one time) optics tech was world renowned. Even today, any company, anywhere in the world, would be hard-pressed to create a production line with the tight controls that Kodak insisted on. They did ongoing research in materials and chemistry for almost 100 years.

    Assuming they stay in a slide, what becomes of all that tech? Will the patents just get distributed to the highest bidders? And will the tech ever get used again?

    OK, so I'm labeling myself as a throw-back to earlier times, but it is sad to see any venture, that attained such a height, brought low and then just ... dissipated.

  • Re:Kodak's Moment (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lev13than ( 581686 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @10:35AM (#38747588) Homepage

    Kodak's demise is a cautionary tale for anyone who owns Apple stock. The two companies have a lot in common - at one point Kodak's products were in every house in the developed world. Kodak owned entire categories of consumer devices and were heavily used by the creative classes. Kodak had the additional advantage of being entrenched in a number of huge industries, including news, media, Hollywood and hospitals. In short, they were seen as indispensable and their earnings reflected this reality.

    Fast forward 30 years and they completely failed to re-invent themselves, which is mandatory for consumer products companies. Sony has its own issues, but at least they aren't trying to make a go of Walkmans any more. Apple is approaching a similar inflection point, and their need to innovate goes well beyond a slightly larger, slightly faster iPhone.

  • by PlatyPaul ( 690601 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @10:37AM (#38747614) Homepage Journal
    Their research arm is still doing quite well. If they want to sell, of course, local co-giants Xerox and Bausch + Lomb may be interested in snapping up those top optics and computer vision scientists....
  • Re:Kodak's Moment (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iteyoidar ( 972700 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @11:37AM (#38748248)

    Kodak invented the digital camera, so it is a bit false to claim that they had no expertise in the field. Where they went wrong was trying to protect their film business by sacrificing their early lead on development and licensing out the technology.

    If a longer vision had prevailed at Kodak, people with Nikon and Canon cameras might be wistfully longing that they could afford one of the big boy Kodak cameras.

    This quote was the most important part of the article to me, it should have been in the summary:

    "Former Kodak vice president Don Strickland insists the firm's late entry into the digital market is a key factor in its recent troubles. He claims he left the company in 1993 after he failed to get backing from within the company to release a digital camera.

    'We developed the world's first consumer digital camera and Kodak could have launched it in 1992. We could not get approval to launch or sell it because of fear of the cannibalisation of film,' he told BBC News.

    Although Kodak was one of the original inventors of digital photography, it failed to keep pace with developments in the market and competitors including Fuji steadily eroded its share of the market."

    I had no idea Kodak had anything going on with digital cameras that far back, I remember the Sonys and Canons and so on and then Kodak eventually came out with some cheap crap-cameras after film was pretty much dead, what a huge business screw-up...

  • Re:Kodak's Moment (Score:5, Interesting)

    by squidflakes ( 905524 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @11:58AM (#38748502) Homepage

    That really depends on the time period. During the late part of the 19th Century, The Eastman Dry Plate company was the only game in town if you were an American photographer. Yes, the higher quality European cameras were available, but at the price point, you could get an Eastman field camera in 8X10 for a quarter of the price of one of the lower quality Zeiss Anastigmat optics.

    When Eastman Kodak brought Folmer & Schwing in to the company they started producing one of the most amazing and ubiquitous press cameras ever made, the Speed Graphic.

    So, in the early days, professionals of all stripes used Kodak made cameras. The military in both World Wars relied on Kodak produced cameras and lenses.

    You are right that Kodak made most of their money off consumables. That was their business model from the very start, but that doesn't mean they didn't produce some good, even if not quite great, cameras and optics.

    Personally, I'm going to miss my Tri-X and hope that someone revives it, a la the Impossible Project.

  • by NikeHerc ( 694644 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @02:09PM (#38750336)
    Here's something that was lost: Kodak stopped making their wonderful Tech Pan B&W film. I would still be buying this stuff and developing and printing it myself if it were available. Together with Ilford paper, Tech Pan had great tonal range and no grain.

    Adios, Kodak film products. We will miss you.

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