By Chris Velazco
Consider today the end of an era for one of the most iconic brands in the imaging industry. While their bankruptcy protection filing from last month signaled the need for some drastic action, it’s still a bit of a shock to see Kodak (EKDKQ.PK) announce that they are putting all of their digital cameras, camcorders, and picture frames out to pasture.
When all is said and done, Kodak expects annual operating savings of around $100 million, but the bigger loss is going to be that of a cultural icon. Kodak will still exist, sure, but primarily as a purveyor of desktop printers as well as online and retail photo printing services.
The company is also looking to expand its brand licensing program in order to bring in some much-needed revenue, but their consumer imaging division is shaping up to be a shell of its former self.
The phase out process is set to begin during the first half of this year, and Kodak has reached out to their retail partners in order to make sure their last remaining customers aren’t left in the lurch when it comes to support and warranties.
Kodak CMO Pradeep Jotwani notes that the company has been scaling back their efforts in the digital imaging space in order to focus on more lucrative aspects of their business. It’s a understandable move for Kodak to make — the company has been on the ropes for quite some time now, with slumping camera sales and some high profile departures only adding fuel to the fire. Even so, the loss of a once-dominant player in the industry stands as a reminder to competitors that staying nimble and innovative is the key to survival.
Consider the blurring lines between cell phones and cameras. Kodak dipped their toes into the water by lending their name and optics to the Motorola MOTOZINE, but never really pursued the space further. Now, a study from the NPD Group points at smartphone camera use supplanting the need for a standalone camera, and a timely gamble back then could have made for smoother seas these past few years.