At the weekend I left the city to head into the country and to my in-laws town. At their place there is not internet and no Wi-Fi to piggy back off. We were there for a party and had left on Thursday to help with preparations on Friday for the party on the Saturday. During the party I needed to take a break from a room that was hot and alcohol which was flowing quite merrily. I went to another room got out my phone and quickly checked the social networks. In doing so a title caught my eye Kodak set to quit camera film and photo paper business . I was a little bit in shock.
The shock should not have been that big. Kodak is bankrupt and their business is being reorganised. I had written a blog entry called Film is not dead; it is just taking a hiatus at the beginning of August, and originally stated that Kodak was stopping making film. I believed this fact to be true. I was contacted through my twitter account by an employee of Kodak, Kodak CB J Cisney who said in relation to my post;
“Despite many rumours – one was running rampant even yesterday, Kodak continues to make film. I am here in Rochester, NY & can confirm that!…. Paragraph 7 has the correct info. As long as people keep buying it enough to sustain it, we will keep making it.”. 14 August 2012
I was reassured by this message and so corrected my post.
Reading the news that they were selling off the film business was a shock. Technically it is true what I was told at that time but in the space of 10 days something had changed, (although I am not stupid enough to believe that this was not their intension all along to stop producing film and they wanted to keep it under wraps.).
Kodak is selling not only the film business according to their press release;
“The Personalized Imaging business consists of Retail Systems Solutions (RSS), Paper & Output Systems (P&OS) and Event Imaging Solutions (EIS). RSS is the worldwide leader in retail print solutions with a global footprint of 105,000 KODAK Picture Kiosks; P&OS includes the broadest portfolio of traditional photographic paper and still camera film products.”
A copy of the press release can be found here
Kodak does stress that they are looking for a buyer who has a commitment to photography and during the transition period they (Kodak) will continue to produce all film products.
Kodak has been in chapter 11 (bankrupt) for several years now and are looking leave this state in 2013. CEO Antonio M. Perez stated;
“In addition, we continue our initiatives to reduce our cost structure and streamline our operating models in an effort to return the company to profitability.”
Kodak is expecting the sale of these business as well as the sale of patents to greatly help them with this strategy. Kodak is looking as if it is moving from the photographic film business that Eastman created into a printing business. According to the Wall Street Journal some of the biggest technology companies have created a consortium to buy the patents for sale. The consortium includes Samsung, Apple and Google. Kodak is hoping the sale of patents to raise around $2.2 billion but the consortium is looking to pay as little at $500 million for the patents which cover some of Kodak’s fundamental inventions in the digital photography and imaging.
Kodak will continue making film for movies and specialist films (large format films for Ariel and industrial photography) as well as products from their consumer inkjet division.
In my opinion Kodak is company trying to get its head above the water and to do this they are dropping dead weight (profitability wise). As business they are looking to the future and not being nostalgic about it and they see the future in in Ink jet printing.
I find this a sad state of affairs, there has been film resurgence and digital photography is no longer a new medium and the shine is wearing off. People want to experiment or are looking for a feel to an image that they can’t find with digital. Other companies, who are not in the same state as Kodak, are still making profitable film and this could be a good day for them. Ilford a great black and white film company is a place that users of Kodaks Tri x black and white film would find a comfortable home. The same could be said for colour film users moving to Fuji. Kodak film stocks may become somewhat an investable product the similar to polaroid films were when they stopped production, don’t be surprised to see high prices on EBay in the future.
I know that Kodak has said that they are looking for a buyer who is committed to photography but sometimes money has to win out. At the moment I will wait to see who buys it up. If it is an investment capital company firm I would say the writing is on the wall.