Kodak axing digital camera business

SAN FRANCISCO – Kodak, which filed for bankruptcy last month, is killing its digital cameras business and plans to focus on printing in an effort to save money.

At one time, Kodak — the pioneer of modern-day handheld film cameras that brought into popular culture the phrase “Kodak moment” — had more than 90 percent of the market share of film sales in the U.S. But the 131-year-old company struggled since the introduction of digital cameras.

Kodak announced Thursday it would now focus on profitable lines of business, such as online and retail-based photo printing, as well as desktop inkjet printing.

Kodak plans to phase out in the first half of 2012 its dedicated capture devices business, including digital cameras, pocket video cameras and digital picture frames. Product warranties and technical support will continue for these devices, the company said.

In this move, Kodak hopes to save more than $100 million, but it would cost the company some $30 million to exit the business. Eastman Kodak Co. and its U.S. subsidiaries filed for bankruptcy protection in January and obtained a $950 million, 18-month debtor-in-possession line of credit from Citigroup to keep the company running.

Kodak will continue to operate its retail-based photo kiosks and digital dry lab systems, as well as consumer inkjet printers, camera accessories and batteries (the ones compatible with all camera brands). The company said it now plans to make charging units for smartphones and continue to operate Kodak apps on Facebook and Kodak Gallery, an online digital photo products service.

Pradeep Jotwani, president, consumer businesses, and Kodak’s chief marketing officer, said the announcement is the logical move given industry trends.

“For some time, Kodak’s strategy has been to improve margins in the capture device business by narrowing our participation in terms of product portfolio, geographies and retail outlets,” Jotwani said.

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