Archive for January, 2012

Kodak UK Update

Amateur Photographer magazine reports: Staff at Kodak UK's headquarters in Hertfordshire were summoned to a meeting in which the firm's CEO Antonio Perez told them, via an audio link with the US, that it was 'business as normal'.

The news follows confirmation that Kodak filed for bankruptcy protection in New York. Amateur Photographer (AP) understands that all employees at Kodak's Hemel Hempstead base were asked to attend the session.

A Kodak Limited spokesperson told AP: 'It's business as usual. It [the bankruptcy protection] is only filed in the US. Everyone is carrying on... We have been told it's not going to affect us.'

In a separate statement, Philip Cullimore, Kodak's managing director for Europe added: 'In Europe we have seen a significant shift towards business-to-business imaging applications, and are weighted towards printing. These businesses in Europe are performing well and growing fast.'

Kodak employs around 5,000 staff in the UK; at Hemel Hempstead, Harrow (north-west London), Kirkby near Liverpool and Annesley in Nottinghamshire.

There have been reports that the move may have an impact on some Kodak UK staff pension funds. In a statement regarding the Kodak Pension Plan, Kodak Ltd stressed that the 'plan continues and benefits will be paid as normal'.

It added: 'Like many UK-defined benefit pension schemes, Kodak's plan currently has a shortfall of assets in relation to its liabilities, and it has been affected by some of the same factors as other schemes.

'A long-term recovery plan is in place between the Trustees and Kodak Limited.'

Kodak launch Easyshare M750 and PlayFull Dual Zi12

At the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas, Kodak showcased a host of connected products and solutions that make it easy to create, share and print brilliant images wherever, whenever and however you like.
Kodak's new Wi-Fi enabled camera - the Kodak Easyshare Wireless Camera M750 allows users to share pictures instantly. Use the Kodak Easyshare Camera App with your Android, Apple or Blackberry device to send pictures wirelessly to Facebook, KODAK Gallery, and even email pictures to your Kodak All-in-One Printer. The camera also works with your home Wi-Fi network.
The new Kodak Playfull Dual Camera combines a 1080p/60 fps HD video camera with a 12 MP BSI CMOS digital camera for one powerful device. It has an external microphone jack, Youtube, Kodak Gallery, email and more.
Utilizing the same image sensor as found in our flagship super zoom camera, Easyshare Max Z990, Playfull's Dual's new BSI CMOS technology enables a unique set of creative capabilities as yet seen on a Kodak pocket video camera. Capable of recording up to 240 fps, it's great for analysing a golf swing or a viewing a bird in flight. It also features a dedicated camera button to quickly capture a 12MP still photo without the need to fiddle through menus.
"Kodak has been synonymous with imaging for more than 120 years. And for today's social and mobile consumers, we continue to innovate to deliver intelligent and intuitive products that produce brilliant Kodak-quality images," said Vince Ferraro, Kodak's new global Vice President of Corporate Marketing and Consumer Digital Imaging Group. "People trust Kodak with their memories, and we want to help them do more with those memories. Whether at home, on the go, or at retail, Kodak has a smart and simple solution to capture, create, share and print."
At Home
Kodak has two new printing apps that let the user bring users Facebook pictures to life. The My Kodak Moments App allows the user to effortlessly create a premium photo book from them and their friends' Facebook albums and have it delivered to their doorstep. The KODAK Photo Collage Print App, the first photo collage home printing app on Facebook allows the user to easily create a photo collage they can then print at home.
Easily upload your Facebook photos to your Kodak Gallery account to create a variety of photo products including prints, photo books and wall décor.
Captured a great moment on video and want to commemorate it with a picture? Upload the video to your computer and use the Kodak All-in-One Printer to make a print2.
On the Go
With Kodak products, it's easy to share and print brilliant photos and documents, wherever you are. Use your Easyshare Wireless Camera with your smartphone to email pictures to any KODAK All-in-One Printer3 and Kodak Pulse Digital Frame, or send to your favorite social networking site.
Print photos and documents from your smartphone, laptop or tablet, from anywhere in the world, with Kodak's new Hero All-in-One Printers that are Google Cloud Print Ready and Kodak Email Print Ready4. Only Kodak offers the ultimate combination of smart features, high quality output and affordable ink.
With the KODAK Pic Flick App, wirelessly send photos to your printer or PULSE Frame from an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Android or Blackberry device. Send documents from your ANDROID device directly to your KODAK All-in-One Printer using Google Cloud Print with the KODAK Document Print App6.
Start a Group Album on your iPhone with the KODAK Gallery Mobile Appand invite your friends to add pictures to create a brilliant-quality photo book.
At Retail / Premium Output
With Facebook Connect on Kodak Picture Kiosks, you can access your Facebook photos to create and print brilliant keepsakes including photo books and personal greeting cards.Over one million customers have printed their Facebook photos from a Kodak Picture Kiosk.
For the first time at CES, Kodak is showcasing one of its leading printing solutions for photo specialty printers, professional photo labs and commercial printers. The Kodak Nexpress Photo 3300 Digital Production Color Pressproduces best-in-class imagesfor brilliant-quality photo books, calendars, and posters, even with effects like in-line dimensional print, which is unique in the industry. Photo books created at the Kodak Gallery are printed on a Kodak Nexpress Press.
CES Innovations 2012 Design and Engineering Awards
Three Kodak products earned CES Innovations 2012 Design and Engineering Awards- the KODAK HERO 9.1 All-in-One Printer, KODAK PLAYFULL Waterproof Video Cameraand KODAK PLAYSPORT Video Camera Zx5. Kodak has received a total of 27 CES Innovations Awards to date.
KODAK EASYSHARE Wireless Camera M750 Wi-Fi:
16 MP, 5X zoom, HD video, 3.0 in. touchscreen
Wi-Fi to Email and social sites (FACEBOOK)
Wi-Fi copy to smartphone or tablet
Available in Red & Silver - Spring 2012 - MSRP £129.99
PlayFull Dual Zi12 Pocket Video Camera:
1080p HD video @ 60 fps
12 MP BSI CMOS sensor for stunning stills
240fps Super Slo-Mo Video Capture
Built-in Xenon flash
External microphone jack
Available in Black & White - Spring 2012 - MSRP £159.99
To learn more, visit www.kodak.comand

Can Eastman Kodak avoid Chapter 11?

Eastman Kodak Co. is preparing to seek bankruptcy protection in the coming weeks, people familiar with the matter said, a move that would cap a stunning comedown for a company that once ranked among America's corporate titans, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The 131-year-old company is still making last-ditch efforts to sell off some of its patent portfolio and could avoid Chapter 11 if it succeeds, one of the people said. But the company has started making preparations for a filing in case those efforts fail, including talking to banks about some $1 billion in financing to keep it afloat during bankruptcy proceedings, the people said.

A Kodak spokesman said the company "does not comment on market rumor or speculation." A filing could come as soon as this month or early February, one of the people familiar with the matter said. Kodak would continue to pay its bills and operate normally while under bankruptcy protection, the people said. But the company's focus would then be the sale of some 1,100 patents through a court-supervised auction, the people said.

That Kodak is even contemplating a bankruptcy filing represents a final reversal of fortune for a company that once dominated its industry, drawing engineering talent from around the country to its Rochester, N.Y., headquarters and plowing money into research that produced thousands of breakthroughs in imaging and other technologies.

The company, for instance, invented the digital camera—in 1975—but never managed to capitalize on the new technology. Casting about for alternatives to its lucrative but shrinking film business, Kodak toyed with chemicals, bathroom cleaners and medical-testing devices in the 1980s and 1990s, before deciding to focus on consumer and commercial printers in the past half-decade under Chief Executive Antonio Perez.

None of the new pursuits generated the cash needed to fund the change in course and cover the company's big obligations to its retirees. A Chapter 11 filing could help Kodak shed some of those obligations, but the viability of the company's printer strategy has yet to be demonstrated, raising questions about the fate of the company's 19,000 employees.

Such uncertainty was once unthinkable at Kodak, whose near-monopoly on film produced high margins that the company shared with its workers. On "wage dividend days," a tradition started by Kodak founder George Eastman, the company would pay out bonuses to all workers based on its results, and employees would use the checks to buy cars and celebrate at fancy restaurants.

Former employees say the company was the Apple Inc. or Google Inc. of its time. Robert Shanebrook, 64 years old, who started at the company in 1967 and was most recently world-wide product manager for professional photographic film, recalls young talent traipsing through Kodak's sprawling corporate campus. At lunch, they would crowd the auditorium to watch a daily movie at an on-site theater. Other employees would play basketball on the company courts. "We had this self-imposed opinion of ourselves that we could do anything, that we were undefeatable," Mr. Shanebrook said.

Kodak's troubles date back to the 1980s, when the company struggled with foreign competitors that stole its market share in film. The company later had to cope with the rise of digital photography and smartphones.

It wasn't until 10 years ago that the mood began to sour, said Mr. Shanebrook. By 2003, Kodak announced it would stop making investments in film. "I didn't want to stick around for the demise," he said.

Kodak has lost money each year but one since Mr. Perez, who previously headed the printer business at Hewlett-Packard Co., took over in 2005. The company's problems came to a head in 2011, as Mr. Perez's strategy of using patent lawsuits and licensing deals to raise cash ran dry.

Hoping to plug the hole, Kodak put some of its digital patents up for sale in August. Efforts to sell the portfolio have been slowed by bidders' concerns that Kodak might seek bankruptcy protection. The company has talked to hedge funds about borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars to bridge its finances until the patents sell, but the talks have faltered, people familiar with the matter said.

The first sign of acute cash pressure came in late September, when Kodak drew $160 million from its credit line at a time when it had told investors it would be building cash. The move sent Kodak's stock tumbling and raised fresh concerns about the company's viability. Soon after, Kodak hired restructuring lawyers and advisers to help shore up its finances.

The company and its board have weighed a potential bankruptcy filing for months. Advisers told Kodak a filing would make its patent sale easier and likely allow the company to command a higher price, people familiar with the matter have said. The obligation to cover pension and health-care costs for retirees could also be purged through bankruptcy proceedings, the people said.

Those obligations—which run to hundreds of millions of dollars a year—as well as the unprofitable state of Kodak's new businesses, have made the company undesirable as a takeover target, people familiar with the matter said.

During a two-day meeting of the company's board, management and advisers in mid-December, executives were briefed on how Kodak would fund itself during bankruptcy proceedings should efforts to sell its patents fall short, a person familiar with the matter said.

Kodak is in discussions with large banks including J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. for so-called debtor-in-possession financing to keep the company operating in bankruptcy court, people familiar with the matter said.

Kodak has also held discussions with bondholders and a group led by investment firm Cerberus Capital Management LP about a bankruptcy financing package, the people said. Should it seek bankruptcy protection, Kodak would follow other well-known companies that have failed to adapt to rapidly changing business models. They included Polaroid Corp., which filed for bankruptcy protection a second time in December 2008; Borders Group Inc., which liquidated itself last year; and Blockbuster Inc., which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010 and was later bought by Dish Network Corp.

A bankruptcy filing would kick off what is expected to be a busier year in restructuring circles, as economic growth continues to drag and fears about European sovereign debt woes threaten to make credit markets less inviting for companies that need to refinance their debts.

Mr. Perez decided to base the company's future on consumer and commercial inkjet printing. But the saturated market has proved tough to penetrate, and Kodak is paying heavily to subsidize sales as it builds a base of users for its ink.

The company remains a bit player in a printer market dominated by giants like H-P. Kodak ranks fifth world-wide, according to technology data firm IDC, with a market share of 2.6% in the first nine months of 2011.

As the company works on a restructuring plan, a key issue for creditors is whether the printer operations are worth supporting, or whether the bulk of the company's value is in its patents.

Nortel Networks Corp., a company that also had fallen behind the technology curve, opted to liquidate itself in bankruptcy court rather than reorganize, raising a greater than expected $4.5 billion for its patent trove.

Kodak's founder, Mr. Eastman, took his life at the age of 77 in what is now a museum celebrating the founder and Kodak's impact on photography. His suicide note read: "To my friends, my work is done. Why wait?"


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