Long known for its film products, Eastman Kodak Company has been restructuring itself in the early 21st century to lessen its reliance on film and transition into the digital world. Still a producer of films, one-time-use cameras, photographic papers, and photographic chemicals as well as a provider of wholesale photofinishing services, Kodak's digital activities center around consumer digital imaging products and services and graphic communications products. The company's consumer digital imaging unit produces digital cameras, home photo printers, and all-in-one inkjet printers; offers retailers a full range of digital printing hardware and media, including photo kiosks; and operates online imaging services, such as Kodak EasyShare Gallery, where consumers can view, store, and share their digital photos with others and which also offers a variety of imaging-related personalized merchandise. Kodak's graphic communications division manufactures digital presses, supplies, and peripherals for commercial printers.
Kodak's origins rest with Eastman Dry Plate Company, and the General Aristo Company, founded by inventor George Eastman and businessman Henry Strong in Rochester, and Jamestown New York. The General Aristo Company was formed in 1899 in Jamestown New York, with George Eastman as treasurer, and this company purchased the stock of American Aristotype Company. Eventually, the business in Jamestown was moved in its entirety to Rochester, and the plants in Jamestown were razed. The Eastman Dry Plate Company was responsible for the first cameras suitable for nonexpert use. The Kodak company attained its name from the first simple roll film cameras produced by Eastman Dry Plate Company, known as the "Kodak" in its product line. The cameras proved such an enormous success that the word Kodak was incorporated into the company name. George Eastman registered the trademark Kodak on September 4, 1888. The Eastman Kodak Company was founded in 1892. The company is incorporated in New Jersey but has its offices in Rochester, New York. George Eastman, Kodak's founder, coined the advertising slogan, "You press the button, we do the rest." In 1901 the Eastman Kodak Company acquired the stock of General Aristo Company.
The letter "K" had been a favorite of Eastman's, he is quoted as saying, "it seems a strong, incisive sort of letter". He and his mother devised the name Kodak with an anagram set. He said that there were three principal concepts he used in creating the name: it should be short, one cannot mispronounce it, and it could not resemble anything or be associated with anything but Kodak. It has also been suggested that "Kodak" originated from the suggestion of David Houston, a fellow photographic inventor who held the patents to several roll film camera concepts that he later sold to Eastman. Houston, who started receiving patents in 1881, was said to have chosen "Nodak" as a nickname of his home state, North Dakota (NoDak). This is contested by other historians, however, who cite that Kodak was trademarked prior to Eastman buying Houston's patents.
The logo from 1987 to 2006.
Kodak is the largest supplier of
photographic films in the world, for the amateur, professional, and motion picture markets - despite heavily reducing its professional still film ranges. Kodak currently derives 70% of its revenue from digital cameras, and Kodak's shift in focus to digital imaging has led to it to announce that the company will no longer manufacture Kodachrome, a film product that, while arguably its most famous, cannot be manufactured with the same processes that Kodak uses for other film products. Only one photo processing lab in the United States, an independent facility named Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kansas processes Kodachrome, and it has agreed to continue developing rolls until 2010.
The systematic deletion of Kodachrome products from Kodak's product portfolio has caused a great deal of resentment from film users, who used Kodachrome for its perceived unique look, and in many cases would have preferred a period of notice before the film stocks were discontinued. The company has also diversified into various other imaging-related industries (such as medical imaging films now marketed by Carestream Health). On June 22, 2009, Eastman Kodak Co said it will retire Kodachrome color film this year, ending its 74-year run after a dramatic decline in sales.
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Kodak is a leading producer of silver halide (AgX) paper used for printing from film and digital images. Minilabs located in retail stores and larger central photo lab operations (CLOs) use silver halide paper for photo printing. Kodak is also a leading global manufacturer of photo kiosks which produce "prints in minutes" from digital sources; the company has placed some 80,000 Picture Kiosks in retail locations worldwide. In addition, Kodak markets Picture CDs and other photo products such as calendars, photo books and photo enlargements through retail partners such as CVS, Walmart and Target and through its Kodak Gallery online service, formerly known as Ofoto. In 2005 Kodak announced they would stop producing black and white photo paper.
On January 13, 2004, Kodak announced it would stop marketing traditional film cameras (excluding disposable cameras) in the United States, Canada and Western Europe. But will continue to sell film cameras in India, Latin America, Eastern Europe and China, By the end of 2005, Kodak ceased manufacturing cameras that used the Advanced Photo System. Kodak licensed the manufacture of Kodak branded cameras to Vivitar for two years following (2005–2006). In 2007 Kodak did not license any manufacture of any film camera with the Kodak name in this market. These changes reflect Kodak's focus on growth in the digital markets. Kodak continues to produce film for newer and more popular formats, while it has also discontinued the manufacture of film in older and less popular formats. However, Kodak still continues with its production of specialty films.
Digital picture frames
Kodak first launched the Kodak Smart Picture Frame on the QVC shopping channel in the fourth quarter of 2000, at a time when the majority of consumers didn't know about or understand this new category. Kodak's Smart Frame was designed by Weave Innovations and licensed to Kodak with an exclusive relationship with Weave's StoryBox online photo network. Smart Frame owners connected to the network via an analog telephone connection built into the frame. The frame was configured to default connect at 2 a.m. to download new pictures off the Story Box network. The other option to load images onto the frame was via the CompactFlash port. The retail price was $349 USD. The frame could hold 36 images internally and came with a six-month free subscription to the StoryBox network. At the end of six months, users had the option of disconnecting from the network or paying a subscription fee of $4.95 per month for two automatic connections and two manual connections, or $9.95 per month for four automatic connections and four manual connections. Kodak re-entered the digital photo frame market at CES in 2007 with the introduction of four new EasyShare-branded models that were available in sizes from 8 to 11 inches (280 mm), included multiple memory card slots, and some of which included wi-fi capability to connect with the Kodak Gallery—although that gallery functionality has now been compromised due to gallery policy changes (see below).
After losing a patent battle with Polaroid Corporation, Kodak left the instant camera business on January 9, 1986. The Kodak instant camera included models known as the Kodamatic and the Colorburst.
Polaroid was awarded damages in the patent trial in the amount of US $909,457,567.00, a record at the time. (Polaroid Corp. v. Eastman Kodak Co., U.S. District Court District of Massachusetts, decided October 12, 1990, case no. 76-1634-MA. Published in the U.S. Patent Quarterly as 16 USPQ2d 1481). See also the following cases: Polaroid Corp. v. Eastman Kodak Co., 641 F.Supp. 828 [228 USPQ 305] (D. Mass. 1985), stay denied, 833 F.2d 930 [5 USPQ2d 1080] (Fed. Cir.), aff'd, 789 F.2d 1556 [229 USPQ 561] (Fed. Cir.), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 850 (1986).
Kodak had been the exclusive supplier of negatives for Polaroid cameras from 1963 until 1969, when Polaroid chose to manufacture its own instant film.
Many of Kodak's earlier digital cameras were designed and built by Chinon Industries, a Japanese camera manufacturer. In 2004 Kodak Japan acquired Chinon and many of its engineers and designers joined Kodak Japan. In July 2006 Kodak announced that Flextronics would manufacture and help design its digital cameras.
As part of its move toward higher end products, Kodak announced on September 15, 2006 that the new
Leica M8 camera would incorporate Kodak's KAF-10500
image sensor. This was the second recent partnership between Kodak and the German optical manufacturer.
Motion picture and TV production
The Kodak company holds a vital role in the invention and development of the motion picture industry. Many cinema and TV productions are shot on Kodak film stocks. The company helped set the standard of
35 mm film, and introduced the 16 mm film format for amateur use and lower budget productions. The home market-oriented 8 mm and Super 8 formats were also developed by Kodak. Kodak also entered the professional video tape market, briefly in the mid 1980s, under the product portfolio name of Eastman Professional Video Tape Products. In 1990, Kodak launched a Worldwide Student Program working with university faculty throughout the world to help nurture the future generation of film-makers. Kodak formed Educational Advisory Councils in the US, Europe and Asia made up of Deans and Chairs of some of the most prestigious film schools throughout the world to help guide the development of their program.
Kodak owns the visual effects film post-production facilities Cinesite, in Los Angeles and London, and also LaserPacific in Los Angeles. Kodak also owns Pro-Tek Media Preservation Services in Burbank, California. Pro-Tek is the world's premier film storage company.
Aside from technical phone support for their products, Kodak offers onsite service for other devices such as printers, microfilm and microfiche machines, and photocopiers, for which they dispatch technicians who make repairs in the field.
Consumer inkjet printers and ink cartridges
Kodak entered into consumer inkjet photo printers in a joint venture with manufacturer Lexmark in 1999 with the Kodak Personal Picture Maker.
In February 2007, Kodak re-entered the market with a new product line of All-In-One (AiO) inkjet printers, which employ Kodacolor Technology.
Main article: Kodak EasyShare Gallery
In June 2001, Kodak purchased the photo-developing website Ofoto. It was later re-named the Kodak Gallery. At the website, users can upload their photos into albums, publish them into prints, and create mousepads, calendars, etc. Kodak says the website is the "leading online digital photo developing service".
In January 2009, Kodak posted quarterly loss and plan to cut up to 4,500 jobs.. January 29, 2009.
On June 22, 2009, Eastman Kodak Co announced that it will retire Kodachrome color film by the end of 2009, ending its 74-year run after a dramatic decline in sales.
Kodak Graphic Communications wins the British Columbia Technology Industry Association Impact Award for Excellence in Product Innovation. The winning product was an advanced manufacturing tool that uses laser imaging to produce color filters for Liquid Crystal Displays (specifically, large LCD televisions) in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way.
In October 2008, Kodak Graphic Communications Canada Co. was named one of "Canada's Top 100 Employers" by Mediacorp Canada Inc., and was featured in Maclean's newsmagazine. Later that month, it was also named one of BC's Top Employers, which was announced by The Vancouver Sun, The Province and the Victoria Times-Colonist.
On June 14, Kodak announced a two to fourfold increase in sensitivity to light (from one to two
stops) compared to current sensor designs. This design is a departure from the classic "Bayer filter" by adding panchromatic, or “clear” pixels to the RGB elements on the sensor array. Since these pixels are sensitive to all wavelengths of visible light, they collect a significantly higher proportion of the light striking the sensor. In combination with advanced Kodak software algorithms optimized for these new patterns, photographers benefit from an increase in photographic speed (improving performance in low light), faster shutter speeds (reducing motion blur for moving subjects), and smaller pixels (higher resolutions in a given optical format) while retaining performance. The technology is credited to Kodak scientists John Compton and John Hamilton. Initially targeted for consumer markets such as digital still cameras and camera phones, the technology is expected to be available in early 2008.
Kodak EasyShare V570 Dual Lens Digital Camera: In January 2006, the world's first dual-lens digital still camera was unveiled at the CES. It was also the world’s smallest ultra-wide-angle optical zoom digital camera. Using proprietary Kodak Retina Dual Lens technology, the V570 wrapped an ultra-wide angle lens (23 mm) and a second optical zoom lens (39 – 117 mm) into a body less than an inch thick.
Kodak EasyShare V610 Dual Lens Digital Camera: The world’s smallest 10× (38–380 mm) optical zoom camera at less than an inch thick.
Kodak EasyShare-One Digital Camera: The world’s first Wi-Fi consumer digital camera, and the world's first camera that could e-mail pictures was unveiled at the January 2005 CES
Eastman Kodak Company is removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average index on April 8, 2004; having been listed for the past 74 years.
Kodak EasyShare LS633 Digital Camera: The world's first digital camera to feature a full-color, active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display. The display measured 2.2 inches (56 mm) and had a 165° viewing angle. OLED technology was developed by Kodak. The retail price was $399 USD.
Kodak EasyShare Printer Dock 6000: The world's first printer-and-camera dock combination, enabled users to print borderless 4 × 6 in (152 mm) laminated, waterproof, photos directly from the EasyShare digital camera with no computer required in 90 seconds. The printer dock could also charge the camera's battery or be connected to a computer to offer one-touch picture transfer. The printer dock used thermal dye-sub technology (a paper-and-ribbon system) that provided continuous tone color ink that dried instantly. The retail price was $199 USD.
Eastman Chemical, a Kodak subsidiary founded by George Eastman to supply Kodak's chemical needs, is spun-off as a separate corporation. Eastman is now a Fortune 500 company in its own right.
Dr. Ching Tang, a senior research associate, and his colleague, Steven Van Slyke, developed the first multi-layer OLEDs at the Kodak Research Laboratories, for which he later became a Fellow of the Society for Information Display (SID)
OLED displays comprise self-luminous pixels, which are thinner, clearer, and do not require power-consuming backlights as compared to LCD displays.
Kodak scientists invented the world's first
megapixel sensor, capable of recording 1.4 million pixels, capable of producing a photo-quality 5×7 inch print.
The Bayer Pattern color filter array (CFA) invented by Eastman Kodak researcher Bryce Bayer. The order in which dyes are placed on an image sensor photosite, is still in use today.
The invention of the digital camera by Steven Sasson, then an electrical engineer at Eastman Kodak.
Eastman Kodak introduces Kodachrome, the first 35mm color film.
Eastman Kodak Company is added to the Dow Jones Industrial Average index on July 18, 1930. The company would remain listed for the next 74 years.
Tennessee Eastman is founded as a wholly-owned subsidiary. The company's primary purpose is the manufacture of chemicals, such as acetyls, needed for Kodak's film photography products.
George Eastman registered Kodak as a trademark and coined the phrase "You Press The Button and We Do The Rest."
George Eastman invented roll film, the basis for the invention of motion picture film, as used by early filmmakers and Thomas Edison.
2005 Kodak announced agreement to acquire Creo Inc., a Canadian supplier of prepress systems used by commercial printers worldwide. Based in Burnaby, British Columbia, Creo was an important provider of workflow software used by printers to manage efficiently the movement of text, graphics and images from the computer screen to the printing press. Creo's flagship workflow product was Prinergy, which is still distributed and maintained by Kodak. Creo's key strengths were in imaging, software, and digital printing plate technology, with a range of technology solutions aimed at commercial, publication, on demand, packaging, newspaper printers, and creative professionals, in part the result of Creo's acquisition of the graphics arts bisiness from Scitex Corporation in April 2000. Creo product lines included software and hardware for computer-to-plate imaging, systems for digital photography, scanning, and proofing, as well as printing plates and proofing media. Creo also supplied on-press imaging technology, components for digital presses, color servers and high-speed digital printers. Creo had more than 25,000 customers and offices in 30 countries worldwide.
Kodak announced on April 5 that it completed its acquisition of Kodak Polychrome Graphics (KPG) through redemption of Sun Chemical Corporation's 50% interest in the joint venture. KPG is now part of Kodak's graphic communications group. Kodak purchased KPG for $817 million.
2004 Kodak announced agreement to acquire two lines of business from Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG, the world's largest maker of offset printing machines. Kodak purchased Heidelberg's 50% interest in NexPress Solutions L.L.C., a 50/50 joint venture of Kodak and Heidelberg that made digital color printing systems, and the equity of Heidelberg Digital L.L.C., a leading maker of digital black-and-white printing systems. Kodak also announced agreement to acquire NexPress GmbH, Heidelberg's German subsidiary, and certain inventory and assets held by Heidelberg's regional operations, or market centers, as well as offer employment to sales and service employees currently with Heidelberg's market centers. NexPress and Heidelberg Digital were leading suppliers of high-end, on-demand color printing systems and black-and-white variable-data printing systems, respectively. NexPress had installed more than 300 NexPress 2100 digital presses throughout the world, making it a leader in high-end, on-demand color printing. Heidelberg Digital had 4,000 Digimaster black and white systems installed worldwide, serving a variety of customer applications. Combined, the businesses acquired employed approximately 2,000 people. Kodak planned to locate the combined headquarters at Heidelberg Digital's Manitou Road facilities in Rochester.
Kodak announced agreement to acquire the Imaging business of National Semiconductor Corp. based in Santa Clara, California, which developed and manufactured
complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor image sensor (CIS) devices. The acquired assets, including intellectual property and equipment, and 50 employees who supported National's Imaging business became part of Kodak's Image Sensor Solutions organization, which designs and manufactures image sensors for professional and industrial imaging markets. Through this acquisition, Kodak added additional resources and technologies (including advanced mixed-signal circuit design) to strengthen their ability to design next generation CIS devices that promise improved image quality with complex on-chip image processing circuitry. This move was intended to accelerate Kodak's longer term goal of providing CIS devices that offer the image quality of CCD sensors while still taking advantage of the power, integration and cost benefits traditionally associated with CMOS technology. Kodak opened a new office for the Image Sensor Solutions organization in Sunnyvale, CA.
2003 Kodak announced agreement to acquire Applied Science Fiction Technologies with operations in Austin, Texas (now referred to as Kodak Austin Development Center). Applied Science Fiction, formed in 1995, was the creator of Digital ICE and Digital ICE3 technologies, a leader in automatic photo restoration applications, and the inventor of the digital dry film processing system: Digital PIC. Digital PIC in minutes would develop standard color negative film without chemical mixing or plumbing. The process would simultaneously render a digital image file used to print photographs or write images on a CD. Kodak intended to integrate these technologies into its Photo Kiosks.
Kodak announced agreement to acquire Scitex Digital Printing, the world leader in ultra-high-speed, variable data inkjet printing systems, from Scitex Corporation Ltd. Based in Dayton, Ohio, Scitex Digital Printing was the leading supplier of high-speed, continuous inkjet printing systems, primarily serving the commercial and transactional printing sectors. Scitex Digital Printing's product included the monochrome, spot and full-color VersaMark page printing systems and the Dijit family of narrow-format printers. These systems are used primarily to print utility bills, banking and credit card statements, direct mail marketing materials, as well as invoices, financial statements and other transactional documents. The company employed 733 people. The acquisition of Scitex provided Kodak with additional capabilities in the transactional printing and direct mail sectors, as well as an industry-leading patent portfolio for continuous inkjet printing technology. Scitex Digital Printing had over 9,000 system installations worldwide in a variety of applications ranging from addressing, personalization and variable messaging, to direct mail and bill and statement printing. Kodak renamed the company Kodak Versamark, Inc. and subsequently brought the facility into the Kodak Graphic Communications Group as its Inkjet Printing Solutions area. Scitex Digital Printing had originally been acquired by Scitex from Kodak in June 1993 and was then known as Kodak's Dayton Operations.
Kodak announced agreement to acquire Laser-Pacific Media Corporation, a leading Hollywood-based post-production company. Laser-Pacific operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of Kodak, reporting to the company’s Entertainment Imaging products and services operation. Founded in 1990, Laser-Pacific is well recognized in the Hollywood entertainment community. A winner of six Emmy awards for outstanding achievement in engineering development, Laser-Pacific provides post-production services for television, home video and motion pictures. These services include high-quality film processing, state-of-the-art film transfer, editing, mastering, digital preview services, and DVD compression and authoring. The acquisition allowed Kodak to establish a major presence in television post-production and further extend the company’s current digital services capabilities in the feature film market.
2001 Kodak announced the completion of the acquisition of Emeryville, California-based, Ofoto, Inc., a leading online photography service. Ofoto was to operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Kodak, and served to complement Kodak's existing infrastructure and Internet photography services. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Founded in 1999, Ofoto had 1.2 million registered members. The company employed 121 people. Kodak indicated that no layoffs were planned at Ofoto. Kodak said they planned to use Ofoto mainly to make prints of the digital images uploaded by consumers or with the help of retail photofinishing partners. With 18 million members, Ofoto announced in 2005 that the service would change its name to Kodak EasyShare Gallery.
Kodak announced it would acquire ENCAD, Inc., a San Diego manufacturer of wide-format inkjet printers, for approximately $25 million on November 15. The acquisition was finalized January 24, 2002 and ENCAD became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kodak. The acquisition made Kodak one of the top three sellers of wide-format inkjet products in the commercial inkjet market. The transaction was expected to contribute to earnings beginning in 2003. The acquisition leveraged Kodak's core capabilities in inks and media, and opened markets ranging from retail point-of-sale to office decor.
2006 Motorola, Inc. and Kodak announced a 10-year global product, cross licensing and marketing alliance intended to fulfill the promise of mobile imaging for the benefit of consumers. By incorporating Kodak’s image science and system integration expertise with Motorola's mobile device design, the two companies goal is to greatly improve the ease-of-use and image capture experience of camera phones. The collaboration covers licensing, sourcing, software integration, marketing, and extends to co-development of image-rich devices with joint engineering teams. For example, Kodak expects to supply its CMOS sensors to Motorola for use in its camera phones, as well as in any future devices the companies co-develop. Additionally, the cooperation to seamlessly integrate millions of Motorola mobile devices with Kodak home printers, retail kiosks, and the Kodak EasyShare Gallery will provide a solution to consumers who want a quick and easy way to Best Prices for their images out of the phone for sharing. Under the alliance, Motorola and Kodak plan to initially expand access to and awareness of mobile-imaging services – including retail programs, online services and customized operator-led initiatives that deliver a seamless, easy experience for consumers. Later plans are to launch handsets and co-created mobile devices with integrated software to enable consumers to access and manage their mobile images seamlessly and conveniently. This cross-licensing agreement between Kodak and Motorola delivers royalty revenues to Kodak.
Kodak announced a partnership with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. for a line of custom, personalized photo products. The products are intended to blend Martha Stewart’s "how-to" style with Kodak’s photo quality expertise, combining online photography with offline products. The photo products include individualized Photo Books, stationery, stickers, and cards, customized for holidays, weddings, and thank-you notes. The products were available by the end of the year and found on www.kodakgallery.com and www.marthastewart.com.
There was also partnerships with Kodak Fc in Harrow, where in the season of 03/04 a bright left footed striker by the name of Jack Dennehy ermerged from the ranks scoring 73 goals in the one season before the tragic event that lead to his football career being trashed, when he broke his leg in 6 places in a tragic skiing incident in the Torino Olympic Trials.
Kodak Canada, Ryerson University
Ryerson University located in Toronto has recently acquired two significant collections. Kodak Canada has recently donated its entire historic company archives to Ryerson University . The Library will also soon acquire an extensive collection of materials on the history of photography from the private collection of Nicholas M. & Marilyn A. Graver of Rochester , New York . The Kodak Archives, which begin in 1909, contain historic photos, files, trade circulars, Kodak magazines, price lists, daily record books, cameras, equipment and other ephemera.
2007 Kodak announced a cross licensing agreement May 25 with Chi Mei Optoelectronics and Chi Mei EL (CMEL) of Taiwan. CMEL plans to incorporate Kodak's active matrix OLED display technology in small panel, mobile displays. The license, which is royalty bearing to Kodak, enables CMEL to use Kodak technology (intellectual property, manufacturing know-how, and materials) for active matrix OLED modules in a variety of small to medium size display applications such as mobile phones, digital cameras and portable media players. The agreement also enables CMEL to purchase Kodak's patented OLED materials for use in manufacturing displays. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
On September 4, Kodak announced a five-year extension of its partnership with Lexar Media.
2006 Kodak announced an agreement August 1 in which Flextronics International Ltd. would manufacture and distribute Kodak consumer digital cameras and manage certain camera design and development functions. Flextronics would also manage the operations and logistics services for Kodak’s digital still cameras. Kodak continues to develop the high-level system design, product look and feel and user experience, and conducts advanced research and development for its digital still cameras.
Under the agreement, Kodak divested its entire digital camera manufacturing operations to Flextronics; assembly, production, and testing. Flextronics As a result acquired a significant portion of the Kodak Digital Product Center, Japan, Ltd. (“KDPC”) in Chino and Yokohama, Japan, (camera design functions and employees) and Kodak Electronics Products, Shanghai Co. Ltd. (“KEPS”) in China (camera manufacturing, assembly, warehousing, and employees). Approximately 550 Kodak personnel were transferred to Flextronics facilities.
The agreement served to drive profitability, efficiency, and streamline digital camera operations by bringing "camera products to market more quickly, with greater predictability, flexibility, and cost efficiency while maintaining the innovative ease-of-use for which the Kodak brand is renowned." He added that the new strategy would enable Kodak to sustain innovation be focusing on advanced development and other areas to achieve the greatest competitive differentiation and advantage.
Kodak would retain all intellectual property and patents as part of the transaction as well as Kodak trademarks, Kodak trade names, Kodak customers, customer information and customer relationships, Kodak feature specifications, Kodak digital camera designs and Kodak digital camera technologies.
Greg Westbrook, President of Flextronics' Consumer Digital market segment, was formerly General Manager of digital capture at Kodak.
2004 Kodak signed an exclusive long-term agreement with Lexar Media Inc. of Fremont, California to help market digital memory cards by putting its brand name on cards designed, manufactured and sold/distributed by Lexar such as
Compact Flash and
Secure Digital cards. The agreement was to give Kodak a broader role in a rapidly growing market. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, however a source of revenue would be provided to Kodak. The agreement would also help Lexar to crack new channels of distribution worldwide. At the time, Lexar products were sold in about 48,000 retail outlets, whereas Kodak was doing business with a half-million storefronts in roughly 70 nations.
Kodak has been widely criticized by environmentalists and researchers as one of the worst corporate polluters in the United States. According to scorecard.org, a web site that collects information on corporate pollution, Kodak is New York State’s number one polluter, releasing 4,433,749 pounds of chemicals into the air and water supply.
The Political Economy Research Institute of the University of Massachusetts, author of the Toxic 100, ranked Kodak the fifth largest polluter in the United States in 2002 In 2004, the Citizens' Environmental Coalition's (CEC) of New York awarded Kodak one of its "Dirty Dozen" awards to highlight its consistently high rates of pollution.
However, in 2005, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) selected Kodak to receive the EnergyStar Sustained Excellence Award for "outstanding and continued leadership in reducing greenhouse gas emissions through superior energy management."
As an example of the company's environmental stewardship efforts, Kodak has hosted a pair of Peregrine falcons since 1998. An endangered species in New York State, Peregrines were de-listed from the federal Endangered Species list in 1999, but are still considered threatened. The female falcon, Mariah, and her mates Cabot-Sirocco (1998–2001) and Kaver (2002-present) have raised 35 young from a man-made nest box placed at the top of the company's world headquarters building in Rochester, New York. From 1998–2006 the Kodak Birdcam website transmitted images from the nest box. In 2007 Kodak ceded primary responsibility for hosting the website to the Genesee Valley Audubon Society under the new name Rochester Falconcam.
Kodak details its annual progress in Global Sustainability, as well as Health, Safety, and Environment, in a Global Sustainability report.
Kodak announced on January 10 an agreement to sell its Health Group Onex Healthcare Holdings, Inc., a subsidiary of Toronto-based Onex Corporation for $2.55 billion. The sale was completed May 1. Kodak received $2.35 billion in cash, and would receive up to $200 million in additional future payments if Onex achieved certain returns with the Health Group investment. Kodak used the proceeds to fully repay its approximately $1.15 billion of secured term debt, and is studying options for the remaining cash as it sharpens strategic focus on consumer and professional imaging and the graphic communications industry. About 8,100 Kodak Health Group employees transferred to the Onex-acquired business, continuing under the name Carestream Health, Inc. Included in the sale are manufacturing operations focused on the production of health imaging products, as well as an office building in Rochester, N.Y. Kodak’s Health Group had revenue of $2.54 billion for the latest 12 reported months (through September 30, 2006). It was a worldwide leader in information technology, molecular imaging systems, medical and dental imaging; including digital x-ray capture, medical printers, and x-ray film. Onex Corporation is a diversified company and one of Canada’s largest corporations, with global operations in health care, service, manufacturing and technology industries. The health care operations include emergency care facilities and diagnostic imaging clinics. Goldman, Sachs & Co. acted as financial advisor to Kodak on the sale of its Health Group and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP provided legal counsel. Lazard Freres & Co. provided a fairness opinion in relation to the transaction.
On April 19, Kodak announced it had reached a deal to sell its Light Management Film group (a portion of its display business) to Rohm and Haas Co., based in Philadelphia. Light management film is used as layers on flat panel TVs and displays to improve effectiveness and control brightness. The group comprised 125 workers worldwide, with about 100 located in Rochester. Rohm and Haas would license technology and purchase equipment from Kodak, and lease Building 318 at Kodak Park. The sale price was not disclosed.
Kodak's chemical subsidiary, Tennessee Eastman, was spun-off as a separate corporation, Eastman Chemical. Tennessee Eastman had been founded in 1920 by George Eastman to provide Kodak with the chemicals needed for its film-based photography business. Since the spin-off, Eastman Chemical has diversified its product portfolio, and is now a Fortune 500 corporation in its own right.
Better Business Bureau expulsion proceedings
On 26 March 2007, the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) announced that Eastman Kodak had advised it that the company was resigning its national membership in the wake of expulsion proceedings initiated by the CBBB Board of Directors. In 2006, Kodak had notified the BBB of Upstate New York that it would no longer accept or respond to consumer complaints submitted by them. In prior years, Kodak had responded by offering consumers an adjustment or an explanation of the company’s position. The BBB file contains consumer complaints of problems with repairs of Kodak digital cameras, as well as difficulty communicating with Kodak customer service. Among other complaints, consumers say that their cameras broke and they were charged for repairs when the failure was not the result of any damage or abuse. Some say their cameras failed again after being repaired.
Kodak said its customer service and customer privacy teams concluded that 99 percent of all complaints forwarded by the BBB already had been handled directly with the customer. Brian O’Connor, Kodak chief privacy officer, said the company was surprised by the news release distributed by the Better Business Bureau:
It is inaccurate in the facts presented as well as those the BBB chose to omit. Ironically, we ultimately decided to resign our membership because we were extremely unhappy with the customer service we received from the local office of the BBB. After years of unproductive discussions with the local office regarding their Web site postings about Kodak, which in our view were consistently inaccurate, we came to the conclusion that their process added no value to our own. Our commitment to our customers is unwavering. That will not change. What has changed is that, for us, the BBB’s customer complaint process has become redundant, given the multiple and immediate ways that customers have to address their concerns directly with Kodak.
In an effort to reduce costs, Kodak accompanied its shift toward digital products with a series of layoffs and facility closures, cutting 12,000–15,000 jobs around the world since 2000, a 20–25 percent reduction in its workforce.
1. Professional photographer Steve McCurry used Kodak's Kodachrome to take the picture of an Afghan girl with green eyes for the cover of the National Geographic Magazine in 1985.
2. A song titled "Kodachrome" by Paul Simon has the catch-phrase: "Mama don't take my Kodachrome away."