Print 20 comment(s) - last by whereisusa.. on Jan 11 at 3:04 PM

Sell patents, bit a massive loan, or close up shop?

Poor Kodak has taken a beating since the advent of digital photography. Few consumers buy film anymore and Kodak’s line of digital cameras aren’t even close to setting sales records. Kodak is facing a bleak future and has previously stated that it might be forced to close up shop as early as this year if things don't change.
Kodak is also facing growing personnel losses within the company. The firm has announced the loss of a third member from its board of directors in the last week. The latest loss is Laura Tyson who resigned her position on the board of Kodak Thursday. The resignation was confirmed in a SEC filing that Kodak made on Friday.
Tyson is a professor at the Walter A. Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. Tyson is also a member of President Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board and advised President Clinton when he was in office.
Kodak is in such dire financial straits that the firm is looking at possibly selling off patents it holds to stay solvent. It has been estimated that the patents Kodak holds are worth five times the company's current market cap.
The other two directors that left Kodak last week include Adam Clammer and Herald Chen. The two directors were both from a private equity firm called KKR & Co and had been on the board since 2009. 
Reuters reports that Kodak had also warned that it might have to raise $500 million in new debt in lieu of selling patents to stay solvent. Kodak hasn't turned an annual profit since 1997.

Source: Reuters

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RE: A shame
By Solandri on 1/2/2012 2:41:53 PM , Rating: 3
Kodak's forte has never been cameras. Even in the film days, the only real camera hits Kodak had were early 110 film cameras (because they were the only ones making them when they introduced the film), disc film cameras (which took atrocious pictures, but most people didn't care), and disposables.

None of these translate well into digital cameras. They were all about making a cheap camera body (both in cost and construction) to increase the number of people buying consumables from from (film, and if you're old enough to remember, disposable flashbulbs). With digital, there are no consumables, so there's no way to sell cheap camera bodies as a loss-leader. Their only advantage is lower price, which just isn't enough when digital camera units for webcams and phones have gotten below $10 in price. Kodak is like an inkjet printer company trying to compete in a world where ink has become free and laser printers have come down to about $10 in price.

Their forte has always been film. They were able to leverage it for a while into digital sensors. They started researching those way back in the 1970s, and owned most of the patents on the technology. But those patents are expiring, and Kodak just isn't an electronics R&D company. Diversified companies like Canon and Sony are finding themselves much better-positioned for the digital camera era. Kodak simply doesn't have the electronics and silicon fabbing experience to compete.

My first camera was a Kodak 110. Used it for years as a kid until it fell out of my pocket into a pool. But the writing is on the wall. The best they can hope for is to be acquired by a company with a strong electronics presence. I suppose selling off the patents would accomplish the same thing, albeit losing the Kodak name in the process.

RE: A shame
By Cypherdude1 on 1/2/2012 7:14:01 PM , Rating: 2
One thing I like about Kodak is they aren't greedy when it comes to their inkjet printers:

It only costs $28 to buy a replacement pair of black and color cartridges:

Because it was so expensive, $60, to replace the pair of carts for my now dead Epson Stylus Color 980, I had to use cheap clone carts. There's no way I was going to pay $60 for Epson's carts especially when you lose 5% every time you run it through a cleaning cycle. Unfortunately, those cheaper clone carts had impurities in them which clogged the delicate inkjets and I could not repair it with special cleaning solution. I ended up switching to a Brother laser printer. I will never use another expensive to run inkjet printer again.

It's too bad Kodak is having these problems and may close. I hope they don't because people can really use an inexpensive inkjet printer.

RE: A shame
By Black1969ta on 1/3/2012 12:49:25 AM , Rating: 2
I had an Epson workforce 600 just a couple of years ago, never used any other carts other than Official Epson Carts. Problem was that we used it irregularly and it would clog between uses, but by the time we used it then needed it again, it would consume at least one of the Carts. Then the Cyan clogged completely and would not print. I replaced it with an HP OfficeJet 8500A Premium. We have had it for 4-5 Months now and so far had no trouble with it.(Knock on Wood)

RE: A shame
By Samus on 1/3/2012 7:30:51 PM , Rating: 2
Epson and Canon commonly have those issues with the head units clogging over time when sparingly used. HP units that use a print head have a cycling system that keeps them clean but uses ink to do so. The advantage of print heads is they generally increase ink usage efficiency by allowing for larger ink capacity.

I've always found it hard to consider any printer other than HP. Luckily, their drivers (the worst part of any HP product) are finally improving and it doesn't take 30 minutes to install a printer anymore.

Back on topic, this is sad about Kodak. One of my first digicams in the early 00's was a Kodak and I used it for years to post pictures on eBay simply because of its superior Macro mode. No camera I've owned since took such close-up pictures. You could easily read memory module markings without blur or over-exposure from the flash.

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