Kodak amidst its Chapter 11 issues recently landed in The Consumerist after their latest move to get out of the situation that they’re in.
The Consumerist – Kodak Gets Out Of The Digital Camera Business
Apparently Kodak wants to focus mostly on printers and inkjet printing and essentially become a printer company. I’m not so sure that this move will be enough to turn the company around though. Technically it IS returning to their roots because Kodak was originally about film and printing photos. I practically grew up with all their Kodak Colorwatch commercials with Bill Cosby like this one:
Still though, I think Kodak might be living in the past here. Photo printing was cool in the mid-2000s when printer companies started making photo printers that specialized in printing on photo paper but I think even photo printers have gotten long in the tooth compared to just passing the pictures around on storage media, digital photo frames, or even on social media sites like Facebook. All kinds of stuff nowadays will read photos off of a flash drive. Even my 3-year-old LCD TV would do that. 😛 There’s really not much of a reason to print photos anymore.
I actually still have an Epson inkjet printer that I picked up at a Staples photo printing event way back in 2005. It still works. Basically the promo was if you bought a digital camera they’d give you an inkjet printer for free, so I went for it. I now have to take that printer apart if I ever want to use it again because all the ink dried in the cartridges and on the printheads so even if I get new cartridges the print quality is still complete crap. Oops. 😛 Technically I could fix that but the last time I printed photos was many years ago and the last time I printed anything in color was when I made some Powerpoint refrigerator magnets at the end of 2006. If anything, photo-wise rather than printing digital photos to have physical prints I’d be heading in the other direction and scanning printed photos in to make them digital since prints can yellow or deteriorate over time, etc.
Things aren’t going to get any better for ink printers in their race to the bottom either. I’ve been seeing people adopting my approach to printing that I’ve had since 2003 and getting a cheap laser printer for black and white while saving a cheap ink printer exclusively for anything in color since toner is usually far more cost-effective for black and white than ink. This assumes one even gets an ink printer for color to begin with. The last advice I read that was going around various blogs and forums was to buy a cheap laser printer for black and white and just print pictures at Walmart for a couple cents per print. 😛 That would make more sense too since the Walmart equipment would be used more regularly and maintained on a regular basis unlike my ink printer which had all the ink dry up after a few years. 😛
Even the Walmart thing for color might be changing shortly though as color laser printers continue falling like rocks in price. Samsung’s been leading the way in cheap laser printers for individuals – even giving longtime frontrunner HP a run for its money. Samsung’s black and white laser printers cleared the $100 mark awhile back and now color laser printers are headed towards the $100 mark. Laser printers have come a long way from the days when they were only for businesses or people with money to burn back in the 1990s. Even just a year or two ago a color laser was a guaranteed several-hundred-dollar investment. The next hurdle for them to clear will be black and white costs per page. Color lasers used for black and white printouts have traditionally been less cost-effective than a black and white machine in terms of cost per page but the first printer that closes that gap may not only give color laser a boost, but really turn up the heat on black and white laser as well when someone can just have one printer for everything. I’ll bust out some spreadsheets later and crunch the numbers on these new Samsung printers that are less than $100 on Newegg. This must be why HP has a color inkjet on Newegg around $30, so cheap it’s not worth replacing the ink because the ink costs $30 too, so the only reason to replace the ink is because you’re conscious of eWaste which would be very good in my book. 🙂
Kodak therefore has a lot of hurdles to clear if they want to just be a printer company. As far as their digital cameras go though, there’s one thing I’ll miss about them. They were the only digital cameras I knew of that would actually take real batteries so in a pinch even though it would destroy most AAs very quickly you could pop regular batteries in if your main batteries were dead and pop a few pictures off of them whereas with all these proprietary batteries out there you’d either need a spare battery or to charge yours back up. My first digital camera was a Kodak, and I daresay it actually took better pictures than the Fuji I have now that I’ve had since 2007. I’m guessing things went downhill though because today’s reviews of Kodak digital cameras basically hammer on them for bad photo quality. That’s a shame. :-\ I liked the normal batteries thing since I could just get a set of 15 minute rechargeables and just use those in the camera alongside everything else I use them in these days. I guess proprietary batteries have won this fight though. A shame since proprietary stuff’s usually less cost-effective. :-\ Maybe I’ll run the numbers on that too.
At the very least though, you have to give Kodak an A for effort. Their entire industry completely changed right in front of them and pulled the rug out from under their feet. At least they’ve been trying to catch up with how things are nowadays. One has to wonder though, will Kodak be the next “film photography” brand name that ends up as a zombie brand showing up on all kinds of products not related to film? (I’m looking at you Polaroid. :-P) This should be interesting… 🙂