Kodak reaches out to app developers to push photos from phone to print
When Eastman Kodak filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in early 2012, it sold off the remaining profitable areas of the company. The surviving branches of the Kodak brand are now working to remain relevant in an age when photography is rapidly changing.
One of the remaining arms of the Kodak legacy is Kodak Alaris. The photo printing service is now working with app developers to let customers print photos at one of 105,000 photo printing kiosks worldwide.
At the recent Mobile Photo Connect conference in San Francisco, California, I had a chance to speak with the Chief Growth Officer of Kodak Alaris. Darren Johnson started with Kodak in 1997 and has held a wide range of roles within the company since, from research and development to sales. Now, Johnson is laying the foundation for growth as Kodak Alaris looks to the future.
“I like to say that we are a 125-year-old start up,” said Johnson. “We have a new owner, and a new industry.”
According to Kodak Alaris, even though the majority of digital photos taken today are captured with smartphones, most printed photographs were captured with conventional cameras.
Kodak Alaris is focusing on how to get photos off of phones and into prints. While it has a handful of apps for printing photos for every mobile platform, Kodak Alaris has opened up its API so developers can help users print photos from their own applications.
“No one manages memories the same way anymore,” said Johnson. “We are trying to make it easy to enrich, relive and share your memories.”
I had a chance to use the Kodak Alaris kiosk at the Mobile Photo Connect conference. I used Kodak’s WedPics app, a photo organizer for couples to collect photos from their wedding.
After uploading a favorite photo of the Bay Bridge, I used Kodak’s built-in editing tools to apply a filter and adjust the contrast of my image. After I finished, I sent the photo to the demo kiosk. Within minutes, I was holding an 8 x 10 print of my photo. Consumers can find similar kiosks at their local Target or CVS stores.
While Kodak's apps are certainly capable of printing to its kiosks, the editing tools and templates leave a lot to be desired. Instead of trying to compete with the developers of popular mobile apps, Kodak Alaris is reaching out to them, encouraging apps to include a “print to Kodak” option. The hope is that the apps will increase the use of Kodak's kiosks. The developers, in return, get a cut of the printing fee.
“We can never be as innovative as the app developer community,” said Johnson about Kodak’s decision to release its API.
For over a century, Kodak has been a self-contained company that had a hand in every part of the photographic process. Now, Kodak Alaris is specializing, focusing solely on printing kiosks while other manufactures make the cameras and app developers create the software. Instead of trying to do everything, Kodak Alaris is offering retailers more foot traffic, app developers a new revenue stream and users an opportunity to easily print their smartphone photos.
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