Rochester, N.Y. -- In the 1980’s you could buy a roll of Kodak film for a couple of bucks.
In the 1990’s a high-end Kodak digital camera would set you back a couple hundred.
But if you want to buy a product from the Kodak of the future, you might need a couple million!
“The Kodak that we know will no longer manufacture anything that a consumer can buy in a store,” says George Conboy of Brighton Securities.
Gone are cameras, film, ink jet printing for the home office, and pretty much all of the former products an individual consumer would buy. Kodak will emerge smaller, leaner and almost solely focused on commercial printing products.
“The technology is absolutely incredible,” says Christian Schamberger President of Mercury Print Productions in Rochester. He shows off a printer that is the size of two RTS buses and prints four thousand pages a second for about a penny each.
Mercury purchased a Kodak Prosper ink jet printer a year and a half ago because of it’s flexibility in printing customized text books. “It’s a big investment especially for a company of our size,” says Schamberger. “We are banking our future on this technology.”
Commercial printing is a $600 billion dollar industry. Kodak’s printers make money. Yet the shift to this new core business invites comparisons to the company’s past move from film to digital.
Is it too little too late?
“The printing industry is not a growing industry and Kodak will have to fight to muscle-in on a business that already has some entrenched competitors,” says Conboy.
“We believe there is confidence among the financial community in our Commercial Imaging business and its future business plans,” says Kodak Chairman and CEO Antonio Perez. “We are gratified that there appears to be interest among several potential lenders to finance this business.”
What does it mean for Rochester? Research and development on commercial printers is done here, some of the components are made here and all of the ink is made here. Those are the jobs that will stay, along with those in motion picture film.
Kodak commercial printers get rave reviews. Technology Watch this week called them “class leading.”
At Mercury printing Kodak’s Prosper sits next to printers from H-P and other competitors. When the company purchases another next year - it will be from Kodak.
“We believe that Kodak is well-positioned in this industry and that their technology is game changing,” says Christian Schamberger.