Kodak quits the inkjet printer business

A source from the Canadian printer industry has told CDN that Kodak, along with its Canadian subsidiary, will be leaving the inkjet printer market.

Another published report on Friday confirmed the speculation. It said that Kodak has plans to exit the consumer inkjet printer segment leading to a reduction of about 200 jobs. This plan is still up in the air as it needs to be submitted as part of Kodak emerging from bankruptcy protection. Kodak filed for U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection near the beginning of this year. Kodak’s stock was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange and subsequently demoted to the Over The Counter (Pink Sheets) exchange.

The Rochester, N.Y. based iconic company, founded by George Eastman in 1889, has asked the bankruptcy court for an extension for filing of its plan until Feb. 28.

Also in February of this year Kodak announced it would stop production and sales of digital cameras, a product it originally invented back in the 1970s.

Kodak, who before the digital age, owned more than 90 per cent of the photographic film market, has been busy selling off businesses, slashing jobs and expenses in an effort to meet court protection guidelines that would see the company get back to business sometime in early 2013.

One of Kodak’s more high profile market exits was its pocket video cameras shortly after Cisco cancelled its Flip video business.

It also sold Kodak Gallery, its online photo service to Shutterfly Inc. for just under $24 million.Recently Kodak stopped its planned sale of patents.

After almost 100 years in operation Kodak was close to 150,000 employees worldwide. It now claims to have more than 13,000 employees worldwide.

Kodak’s printing back story

After nearly a decade without any print strategy or offering, the pioneering American firm, which had more than a century of colour printing science technology, entered the market back in 2007 with three all-in-one printers called the Kodak Easyshare.

Initially targeted at the consumer market, these printers offered lab-quality photos using a pigment-based ink formula that the company claimed would save users 50 per cent on everything they print. With Kodak ink cartridge and paper replacement packs, a user was spending between 10 and 15 cents per print, depending on if it is for everyday use or premium photo quality output back in 2007.

In an interview conductd by CDN for the launch of Kodak printers in Canada, Susan Tousi, director of research and development for Kodak’s inkjet group, called her company’s move an “organic investment” for Kodak. She said Kodak has been developing technology and ink pigments for a number of years, and realized it had all the capability and with their ink pigments, some advantages over traditional printer vendors.

She added that Kodak has been a leader in photo printing paper.

“The time was right now and there was no need to acquire it,” she said in that 2007 interview.

Tousi acknowledged back then that Kodak’s printer success hinged on customers buying into the economical ink offering.

In the end, pundits knew Kodak entered the market about 10 years too late even if Kodak’s intensions were to come into the market to solve the issue of price of ink. “That is the issue and customers have been complaining about it,” Tousi said.

She added that the printing market has been running the same business model for years and has not addressed unmet needs such as more affordable ink.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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