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Kodak bankruptcy plan approved, former film giant exits consumer business

By Richard Butler on Aug 21, 2013 at 19:42 GMT

The Kodak planning to exit from bankruptcy on September 3rd looks very different from the familiar imaging company that filed for Chapter 11 last year. The U.S. Bankruptcy court has approved Kodak's plan for reorganization, a step that means the company can resume independent operation soon. CEO Antonio M. Perez issued a statement emphasizing Kodak's move into commercial imaging for a profitable future, including "packaging, functional printing and professional services."

Over a year into bankruptcy, Kodak has moved rapidly away from consumer business. With approval of the bankruptcy plan, its Personal Imaging business, which includes kiosks and production of Kodak film, will now be sold to UK employees' pension plan. The brand name is also under license by J.K. Imaging, currently selling superzooms, compacts and waterproof video cameras bearing the Kodak name. It's also teased a Kodak S-1 - a prototype Micro Four Thirds camera with built-in Wi-Fi - and an enthusiast compact with a 28-112mm equivalent F1.8-2.5 lens that's suspiciously similar to the Olympus XZ-2's zoom.

Kodak also dropped its consumer printing division last year - what remains is Kodak's commercial and B2B imaging services, business that could carry the much leaner company back into profitability. Betting on this segment of the market for survival, a post-bankruptcy Kodak is hardly recognizable as the company that inspired its own 'moment.'

Via: USA Today

Comments

Total comments: 75
Tom Stone
By Tom Stone (7 months ago)

So the UK Pension Plan folks have acquired a large piece of the consumer film business. That information was announced months ago but there is nothing to be found on the Internet about the new business. If they are going to continue on and be profitable for their pensioners, they better get their act together now and start marketing and transitioning aggressively. They may have already let this languish too long.

If you are looking for a CEO to get things moving, contact me or just about anybody else on the planet other than Antonio Perez.

0 upvotes
fishycomics
By fishycomics (8 months ago)

As Long as Igot my new ZI12 play full in hand, as I do. a song. Nothing else matters Sand man

0 upvotes
electric eel
By electric eel (8 months ago)

Working in the industry revealed Kodak as an arrogant company that was competent technologically however management was extremely incompetent. When Nikon released the D1 they hardly blinked, the rest of the industry realized the monumental event while Kodak management looked at film/processing sales as a forever cash cow. Kodak ccd's were among the best and can be found in high end cameras and backs to this day, yet management ran the company into the ground. I will miss the brand as it was a cornerstone of every photographers life, so sad to see it end up this way.

2 upvotes
HetFotoAtelier
By HetFotoAtelier (8 months ago)

what about the Tri-X films?

1 upvote
Sir Nick of High Point
By Sir Nick of High Point (8 months ago)

Poking around online it looks like all of the current films will still be available, but produced by another company, maybe even under the same name.

"Kodak says in a statement that it is transforming itself into a seller of digital printing services to other businesses. That doesn't mean the company's traditional consumer products will disappear; but henceforth, they will be made by another entity, owned by a U.K. pension fund, and yet to be named. "

I hope this is true.

0 upvotes
SteveJL
By SteveJL (8 months ago)

Sad news :-( I'll always have fond memories of, and be thankful for, all that the Kodak brand line had available back when I got into SLR photography. The big K will always have a special place in my heart. R.I.P.

0 upvotes
Ferling
By Ferling (8 months ago)

Time to order some Portra 160 and drag the Mam 645 out. The fall season is upon us.

1 upvote
jmeyersnv
By jmeyersnv (8 months ago)

Don't blame the current management for Kodak's demise. Back in the early 2000's, when I was an active technology investment banker at one of the leading securities firms, I proposed to Kodak's management that their company acquire Lexar Media -- a company I had then recently helped take public.

They turned my detailed proposal down cold, articulating the position at that time that digital photography would always be a small derivative of the well-established, film-based market. Instead, Kodak half-heartedly did a licensing deal with Lexar, which clearly evidenced its disdain for solid state film.

The rest is history.

2 upvotes
Tom Stone
By Tom Stone (7 months ago)

I agree and disagree with you. I agree that the current management isn't completely to blame but I disagree in that they still should shoulder the shame of killing Kodak.

I wholeheartedly agree that the historical management of Kodak was lacking. As a camera store manager back in the '70s, I would see Kodak make continual idiotic marketing decisions. They followed a similar formula to that of Disney. Come out with a good product and then, instead of continuing to innovate, milk that product to death leaving consumers completely dissatisfied. They constantly drove business away to other brands all the while ignoring the begging and pleading from their dealers and consumers.

0 upvotes
Mark Alan Thomas
By Mark Alan Thomas (8 months ago)

Now Kodak need to get rid of that dreadful font they use in their logo. It looked dated the day it arrived.

1 upvote
Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (8 months ago)

CEO Antonio M. Perez. Man, he single-handedly destroyed Kodak as a viable company. And now, the idiotic Board of Directors are keeping him on, like nothing had ever happened to the company, huh?

Man, I am so glad i do not have any of my money invested in U.S. companies.

3 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (8 months ago)

He's earned a position of honor in the Meg Whitman Hall of Fame.

0 upvotes
Stu 5
By Stu 5 (8 months ago)

It's no longer a U.S company.

1 upvote
Potemkin_Photo
By Potemkin_Photo (8 months ago)

The only thing I miss about film is when places like Walgreen's were offering free film development about once or twice a year to keep the industry alive. I'd shoot up 20 rolls and get them all done for free! Now that that's done with, I don't miss it.

0 upvotes
TheDevil
By TheDevil (8 months ago)

I just feel bad for all those employees losing their retirement benefits.

4 upvotes
TheChefs
By TheChefs (8 months ago)

I still love my portra, ektar, tmax and trix films. They look great and no digital can match the look, especially B&W on medium format camera.

Not to mention no highlight clipping. When I shoot Portra 400 at +6 or even +8EV, it looks fantastic. Great for high key photography. When I try that on my DSLR, it looks terrible (pure white).

And if you wonder what it looks like, just take a look at the Nagano Toyokazu photos featured here on August 4th.

11 upvotes
Rafael Frontado Gomez
By Rafael Frontado Gomez (8 months ago)

I am also a traditional photographer, still using Tri-x. What is going to haoppen to Kodak is not going to make me to leave it. Still there are other films and chemical like Ilford or Bergger to take photos. If I need to change, I would do the same I did 20 years ago, to find a film and chemicals that is according to my feelings of expressing with photography. I would try to find one as much similar to Tri-X. Or maybe I might find something even better!!! Anyway, I hope Kodak films and chemicals run by KPP do a good job and keep us happy for another 200 years.
However, all of us photographers who still use films, we can teach to Kodak a lesson, we can take photos in the way we want and like and not in the way business people want. The difference between them and us is we do creativity and they do only money. Any business can be profitable but also creative.

I wish you all good photos today.

6 upvotes
JEROME NOLAS
By JEROME NOLAS (8 months ago)

KODAK WHO?

2 upvotes
Dave Luttmann
By Dave Luttmann (8 months ago)

The company that invented digital cameras...that is who.

1 upvote
Langusta
By Langusta (8 months ago)

Sad

1 upvote
yabokkie
By yabokkie (8 months ago)

I chose Fujichrome 50 over Kodachrome 25 because they were just as good and better at higher shutter speed.

Kodak technology? they might have had some good sensor technologies but they contributed to one of the worst design in camera history -- the Oly 4/3" mount which is a disgrace to both companies, shame.

Comment edited 43 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
schaki
By schaki (8 months ago)

If anyone is a disgrace there it is Oly which probably designed the mount and lenses that that FF sensors could not be used.
Kodak made a FF ccd for the Leica M9. Olympus could have got a FF ccd as well had them just asked.

Comment edited 45 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
robjons
By robjons (8 months ago)

I say good riddance. Like the old AT&T they unjustifiably screwed consumers for years on what was essentially a bulk commodity. A management team that just couldn't see the way forward.
Nikon, are you paying attention?

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (8 months ago)

They made a profit. And that profit paid for R&D, salaries, benefits, health insurance, college tuition and retirements.

But their highest profit product was replaced by something free. And when it came to switching from a high profit consumable to a free one, they were very slow to react. Granted, Antonio and his crew hastened the demise but it was inevitable because free and instant wins every time. That's the reason home photo inkjet is going down the tubes; you can't make prints for free.

2 upvotes
Scales USA
By Scales USA (8 months ago)

One of the sad things is the loss of high tech. Kodak had a wonderful research team that invented some very innovative things.

The problem was that management could not see their potential and the need to pull out all the stops to develop them, not believing that film sales would drop like a rock. Almost any photographer could have told them what was going to happen.

Another sad loss was Bell Labs, the patents, research, and inventions are now done in China.

9 upvotes
schaki
By schaki (8 months ago)

The people in Kodak management which have some responsibility for all the failures of in fact good products or development needs to go if them still sits on their chairs.

1 upvote
Dave Luttmann
By Dave Luttmann (8 months ago)

Just ordered another 30 rolls of Ektar 100 and 50 sheets of it in 4x5.

4 upvotes
Joe Ogiba
By Joe Ogiba (8 months ago)

I still have Kodachrome 135 and 120 film in my freezer.
http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5196/5842743706_b1ecffa5a1_b.jpg

2 upvotes
BJL
By BJL (8 months ago)

Did you miss the news that the last Kodochrome development facility in the world shut down a year or two ago? All youncan do with that stuff now is keep it in the freezer forever as a souvenir.

2 upvotes
psn
By psn (8 months ago)

@BJL: Actually you can easily process Kodachrome film... as B/W negative film using B/W chemicals. So, you don't have to keep it as souvenir.

0 upvotes
BJL
By BJL (8 months ago)

Developing the first and most famous color film, which even has "chrome" in its name, as black and white only is ... bizarre. I am guessing that was never Joe's plan.

Did some freaky darkroom photo nuts actually do that, and perhaps try to rationalize it as a superior artistic choice over any of the films actually designed for black and white?

Comment edited 31 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
focalphotography
By focalphotography (8 months ago)

How do you get rid of the ramjet black layer on Kodachrome? I know you can dev E6 in B&W soup ??

1 upvote
tommy leong
By tommy leong (8 months ago)

death in slow motion

0 upvotes
Donnie G
By Donnie G (8 months ago)

This was the move that Kodak should have made 10 years ago instead of throwing away resources trying to fool photographers with those imitation Canon and Nikon bodies. Still, better late than never. Congratulations Kodak on your successful reorganization. :)

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
dash2k8
By dash2k8 (8 months ago)

I can't help but feel sad about this, even though I haven't used Kodak anything for 20 years. Any time you lose a landmark in history, it's sad.

11 upvotes
aftab
By aftab (8 months ago)

True. I feel sad too.

0 upvotes
Bali_Mirage
By Bali_Mirage (8 months ago)

Wikipedia's entry for Perez explains why Kodak and the US are screwed:

"He was criticized for being one of the worst CEO's in the nation, citing the decline of Eastman Kodak during his stint as CEO.

In February 2011, Mr. Perez was appointed to President Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_M._P%C3%A9rez#Awards.2C_Recognitions.2C_and_Controversy

11 upvotes
onlooker
By onlooker (8 months ago)

Isn't being the worst at something a prerequisite for an appointment to the current Administration?

17 upvotes
Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (8 months ago)

Like I said, CEO Antonio M. Perez. Man, he single-handedly destroyed Kodak as a viable company. And now, the idiotic Board of Directors are keeping him on, like nothing had ever happened to the company, huh? Man, I am so glad i do not have any of my money invested in U.S. companies.

As to him being on cozy terms with the Clueless Prez -- well, with a name like "Perez," he must be one of America's much abused minorities that we must help out at all costs, so what else would you need these days to get a decent job at the Obama White House in Washington?

1 upvote
TTLstalker
By TTLstalker (8 months ago)

Oh, here we go, a Fox "news" watcher. Can't even write a comment in a photo forum without some President bashing and reciting some right wing talking points. How boring.

3 upvotes
DecisiveMoment
By DecisiveMoment (8 months ago)

Kodak took great pride in it's family approach to new hires. Kodak would hire sons and daughters of employees that would conform and carry on the tradition of the Kodak way of doing business. Hence no one to be innovative, bring forth new ideas and rock the proverbial boat. They invented the digital camera and did nothing with it. Their cash cow was film and processing until Fujifilm beat them at their own game. As a working professional, when I tried the Pro Fuji films and Crystal Archive paper, I never went back to buying Kodak products. For a company that was the leader in it's field shows no company of any size is immune from not being innovative and catering to customers needs.

6 upvotes
Frank_BR
By Frank_BR (8 months ago)

Certainly it was not for lack of film that the downfall of Kodak was not well documented.

Comment edited 37 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
nawknai
By nawknai (8 months ago)

It's a Kodak Moment.

2 upvotes
RichRMA
By RichRMA (8 months ago)

American companies are taught 2 things:
1. Grab as much profit in the shortest time possible and don't worry about the future.
2. Keep shareholders happy at all costs, customers come second.

7 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (8 months ago)

I think this restructuring has lost most shareholders most, if not all, of their investment. I can't imagine they're terribly happy, at the moment.

7 upvotes
Just another Canon shooter
By Just another Canon shooter (8 months ago)

Yeah, and this works quite well for America.

0 upvotes
AlpCns2
By AlpCns2 (8 months ago)

Of course any company should focus on profitability. You make it sound as if it's bad to make money, which is of course total nonsense. Kodak didn't put the shareholders first, either - the shareholders lost most of their investments. So that statement does not fly either. The REAL mistake Kodak made was not understanding the customer and the changing market they co-created.

0 upvotes
Jogger
By Jogger (8 months ago)

The night and day differences in the trajectories of Kodak and FujiFilm would make a great case study for business schools.

7 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (8 months ago)

All that's left is to give top managment big bonuses for their trouble. Then, it's mission accomplished!

17 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (8 months ago)

Great job, American business schools. You teach how to gut market-dominant companies to nothing in a few short years.

16 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (8 months ago)

If you want to blame business schools, blame the ones that taught the Kodak management team how to be way to slow to changing market forces.

7 upvotes
klopus
By klopus (8 months ago)

Gotta love such blanket statements. Kodak failure had nothing to do with American business schools and it took much longer than "few short years". Many high-tech US companies including old-timers (just check IBM) are thriving because of shrewd management and other favorable conditions. Much fewer like Kodak are folding for many different reasons - sometimes it's strategic management mistakes and sometimes it's greedy labor unions and over-regulation, and sometimes it's competition from countries with cheaper labor or many other different things. American business education (considered one of the leading in the world and for good reason) is the least probable reason.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
8 upvotes
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (8 months ago)

Klopus, I read it twice and still can't believe it. So trade unions and regulation are to blame? What's your suggestion to heal your contry's economy - slavery?

6 upvotes
HelloToe
By HelloToe (8 months ago)

Certainly not 'a few short years', Kodak's failure goes back at least three decades. They failed back when they stopped being a real competitive camera maker (outside of cheap point & shoot cameras, which continued to sell to the ignorant on name alone for quite a while longer, but even that didn't last).

They convinced themselves that they were fine as long as they still had their film business, which became the sacred cash cow to be protected above all else. And of course that meant that they largely ignored digital imaging, despite having invented it.

The result is what you see today.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
wfektar
By wfektar (8 months ago)

ManuelVilardeMacedo -- well, it can't possibly be greedy management or stockholders, so who else is left to blame? After all, management gets paid the big bucks for the vision and competence to keep the company at the forefront of the industry, yes? Why else would they be paid better than, say, the scientists and engineers there, who were some of the best in the business?

1 upvote
peevee1
By peevee1 (8 months ago)

Kodak is not the only American MBA-led company which failed when foreign competition (Japanese, German, Korean) was thriving. Remember Polaroid, RCA, GM/Chrysler bankrupcies of not so long ago? And yes, it took a few short years, Kodak was the leading force in DSLRs and digital camera technology in the 90s, and failed not 10 years later.

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (8 months ago)

American MBAs learn a few tricks which allows them to enrich themselves (because their pay depends on quarterly/annual profit targets), but destroys the companies they lead in a few short years:
1) If you destroy Research->Development->Production->Marketing->Sales pipeline of a complex tech business starting from the beginning, costs are going down immediately, while sales fall in 10 years or so, meanwhile you get higher profits and bonuses and can exit then with a golden parachute
2) If the company you took over has a great brand (or brands), you can start selling the brand values piece by piece by lowering the quality of products/services (including by offshoring of support call centers, for example) to levels below those associated with the brands - this way you lower costs immediately while commanding the high prices of a strong brand, while the effects of diminished brand values will be felt in several years in the lack of repeated sales etc.

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (8 months ago)

This happens all the time, by every MBA you see who got to power, like former Kodak CEO (since 2000) Daniel Karp or current CEO (since 2005) Antonio Perez, or Carly Fiorina in HP, John Scully in Apple, even George W. Bush in the US as a whole...

On the other side, real successful business creators do not go to get MBA after school to suck and lick their ways to the top of existing businesses - they start their own businesses: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Larry Ellison, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos...

1 upvote
peevee1
By peevee1 (8 months ago)

And klopus, Japan, Germany and South Korea we are losing competition to have MORE regulations, HIGHER taxes (paying for universal healthcare BTW) and STRONGER unions. And the failing US companies offshore their main workforce to cheap/unregulated/ununionized countries before failing anyway. These are all BS arguments produced by the same BS MBAs in Republican party every time, and everybody who knows something about the world knows how incredibly stupid they are. Not that I am pro union, unions must die - but MBAs first.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
rallyfan
By rallyfan (8 months ago)

Blaming Kodak's failure on unions and regulations when Kodak was (once...) a US company is -- I'm being very diplomatic and lenient here! -- desperately clueless. Companies thrive in organized societies that have actual worker rights and regulations, much less the US.

Management followed their textbooks. They made money. The rest was secondary to them. Tomorrow didnt mayter. Voila! Done deal. In the US, business schools are rivaled only by journalism and art schools for turning out self-absorbed, semi-literate dunces.

We still use our Kodak digital cam in a UV box setup. Thanks to the business school brainiacs it's now an orphaned product. Bah!

2 upvotes
AlpCns2
By AlpCns2 (8 months ago)

Is that the best you can do as [your version of] a business case analysis, Peevee?

Comment edited 27 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (8 months ago)

AlpCns2, your business school have not even taught you what "business case" is?

1 upvote
Carbon111
By Carbon111 (8 months ago)

Requiescat In Pace

1 upvote
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (8 months ago)

Let's just hope the sale to UK employees' pension plan doesn't mean the end of Kodak film. After all, Ilford went into receivership and now it is going on with their core business. And Italy's Ferrania is rising from the ashes right now. There's still a niche that needs to be filled.
Today, still unaware of this news, I bought a T-Max 100 35mm roll for my Olympus OM-2n. I hope it wasn't the last Kodak roll l loaded my camera with. I still haven't tried Tri-X and Ektar...

3 upvotes
Richard Schumer
By Richard Schumer (8 months ago)

When you try Tri-X, discover its basic sharpness with an old-timey developer, too. Rodinal or one of its substitutes (Fomadon) will sharpen the images up considerably while still holding grain to moderate levels. Try dilutions of 50-100:1.

And don't ignore Plus-X, one of the truly underestimated emulsions. Rate it at 160 ISO for best results with Rodinal-like develiopers.

Comment edited 25 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (8 months ago)

Thank you, Richard. Plus-X is unfamiliar to me, but I'll get informed and will certainly try it.

0 upvotes
Graham Hill
By Graham Hill (8 months ago)

Plus X was discontinued a loooong time ago.

1 upvote
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (8 months ago)

Yes, Graham, I know. I took some information and found out Plus X was discontinued in 2002. Which means that, even if I found any rolls on sale, they'd be expired. Still it was nice from Richard to make the recommendation.

0 upvotes
rt22306
By rt22306 (8 months ago)

I just got a new lens for my Contax. And I have 11 rolls of T-Max, four of Gold 400, four of Fujicolor 200, and two of Ilford HP-5 to proof test it with.

Doing my part to keep the medium alive.

1 upvote
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (8 months ago)

rt22306, you should hurry up. Film expires, you know. You have four to six months to use them. Store them in a refrigerator (no, I'm not joking) if you live in an area where temperatures often exceed 21º C.
I have mixed feelings about Fujicolor Superia 200. It casts a cyan hue that affects reds and some blues and greens. On the other hand, it's very sharp and contrasty. Overall it's very pleasant, but reds can look heavy-handed.

0 upvotes
rt22306
By rt22306 (8 months ago)

I'm good, they're in the fridge. The Fuji is marked to expire in 2015, the Ilford in 2016.

0 upvotes
Richard Schumer
By Richard Schumer (8 months ago)

To Graham and Manuel~:

Sorry. I guess I'm showing my age. I still have a couple of rolls, but never checked to see if it was still being marketed. Ilford made a similar film, ASA 100 that was a close second. Perhaps that's still made.

Both Plus-X and FP perhaps that was its name had a gorgeously smooth tonal range that I never achieved with Tri-X.

FWIW.

0 upvotes
BJL
By BJL (8 months ago)

Richard,
Ilford FP4 Plus, ISO 125, is the one you are thinking of, and it is still going strong. It is probably time for B&W film enthusiasts to get behind Ilford and keep its products viable!
http://www.ilfordphoto.com/products/product.asp?n=6

Comment edited 36 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
DotCom Editor
By DotCom Editor (8 months ago)

I shot tens of thousands of rolls of Plus-X B&W film in my early days. Rated at an ASA of 125 (now you'd call that ISO 125), I developed with Microdol, D-76, or even pushed it a bit with Diafine. Stored in thousands of glassine envelopes and carefully cataloged, they're still in perfect condition.

1 upvote
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (8 months ago)

Richard, your suggestion was appreciated even though that film is no longer made. We analogistas must stand for each other :)

0 upvotes
Total comments: 75