Eastman Kodak Co., which brought photography buffs the Brownie in 1900 and the Instamatic in 1963 before inventing the digital camera, will stop making cameras in the first half of this year, the company announced today.
Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month and is attempting to sell or license all of its businesses that lose money, according to the Wall Street Journal.
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In 2010, Kodak was in seventh place in digital-camera sales behind manufacturers like Nikon and Samsung Electronics Co, according to market research firm IDC, Reuters reported.
The company plans to license its brand to other manufacturers of digital cameras, pocket video cameras and digital picture frames, according to the Los Angeles Times. Kodak is betting its future on consumer and commercial printers, and plans to focus its consumer business on online and retail-based photo kiosks, desktop inkjet printing and camera accessories and batteries, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The company will take a charge of about $30 million to leave the camera business, but expects to save more than $100 million in annual operating costs, the LA Times reported. The move will entail "significant" job losses, Kodak said, according to Reuters.
"Getting out of a market that's declining rapidly ... is probably a good idea," NPD analyst Stephen Baker told Reuters. US camera sales fell about 20 percent in 2011 from 2010, he noted.
But Steve Sasson, a former employee who invented the digital camera in a Kodak laboratory in 1975, told the Wall Street Journal it was unwelcome news. "Of course I'm saddened by it," he said. "We had a long history of enabling people to capture pictures."