Kodak Shutters Digital-Camera Business


Eastman Kodak Co, the bankrupt inventor of the hand-held camera, plans to stop making digital cameras, pocket video cameras and digital picture frames in the first half of 2012 in a bid to cut costs.

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The move marks the end of an era for Kodak, which is seen as one of the biggest corporate casualties of the digital age, after it failed to quickly embrace modern technologies such as digital photography, a product that it also invented.

The company, which filed for bankruptcy protection last month, said on Thursday that the move would result in "significant" job losses at the business, which employs 400 people most of whom are based in Rochester, New York.

Kodak will take a charge of about $30 million to leave the business. It expects the exit to generate more than $100 million in annual operating savings.

The charge does not include additional costs that Kodak expects to incur for items such ending manufacturing contracts with overseas companies that make its products, spokesman Christopher Veronda told Reuters.

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Kodak has not disclosed its employee numbers since the end of 2010 when it announced that it had a work force of 18,800 employees.

Kodak said the decision was the "logical extension" of the company's recent strategy to improve margins in the camera business by narrowing its product portfolio, geographies and retail outlets.

The company, which generates three-quarters of its revenue from digital, plans to instead focus on seeking licensees to expand its brand licensing program. It plans to continue to offer online and retail photo printing, and desktop printers.

In addition to its consumer businesses segment, Kodak has a commercial segment that includes enterprise services, graphics, entertainment and commercial films units.

The company's remaining consumer services will also include retail-based photo kiosks and dry lab systems. It said it has more than 100,000 kiosks and order stations for dry lab systems around the world.

The company promised to honor all related product warranties, and provide technical support and service for its cameras, pocket video cameras and digital picture frames.

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