Kodak Tosses Digital Cameras in the Dustbin
It's official: First they took our Kodachrome away, now Kodak is doing away with its digital cameras, too. The company, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January, has decided "to phase out its dedicated capture devices business — comprising digital cameras, pocket video cameras and digital picture frames — in the first half of 2012." Kodak plans to focus on online and retail-kiosk image processing as well as inkjet printers.
Kodak, once the king of all cameras, has been struggling, and drastic measures have been necessary to ensure the company's existence. But even to the most jaded observers, the move is stunning. The name Kodak has been synonymous with photography. For example, seeing a memorable scene is called a "Kodak moment." Legendary photographers like Ansel Adams fell in love with images thanks to Kodak cameras like the Brownie Camera. And who in a certain age bracket can forget the opening of the Walt Disney show that was co-sponsored by Kodak?
Perhaps that nostalgia — both within the company and with its customers — contributed to Kodak's demise. Was the legacy of film so persistent in consumers' minds that they didn't perceive Kodak as a leader in new technology? Ironically, Kodak was early to market with digital cameras in the 1990s, and Apple's first digital camera, the QuickTake 100, was based on Kodak technology. But Kodak didn't keep pace with the lightning-speed developments in digital photography. Film-camera rivals like Canon and Olympus quickly moved to the forefront while Kodak grappled with its digital strategy.
On the same day that Kodak announced the end of its digital camera line, it released the statement "Kodak Prepares Exciting drupa Presence" that made vague allusions to products and technologies it planned to highlight at the world's largest showcase for the printing industry. “Visitors to drupa will learn about the latest ways we’re leading dynamic change in the markets we serve — including publishing, packaging and commercial print — with the industry’s most comprehensive portfolio of products, solutions and services for printers in offset, digital and hybrid environments,” the statement says.
Kodak isn't closing down, but as we say so long to Kodak as we know it, remember its history in words and images about the final rolls of Kodachrome developed at the last processor in the nation to accept Kodachrome film: "For Kodachrome Fans, Road Ends at Photo Lab in Kansas" in the New York Times, "Kodachrome Is Dead, Long Live Kodachrome" in The Atlantic, "The Last Roll of Kodachrome Film Ever Will Be Developed Today" on Gizmodo, and Gene Gable's homage to Kodachrome.