CES 2017: A Kodak Moment by Embracing Past With Eye to the Future


Kodak CES 2017

Kodak is proof-positive that old brands can reinvent themselves by facing and embracing the very thing that may have caused their demise – digital innovation.

Following the positive response to Kodak’s Super 8 Revival a year ago, Kodak hit CES 2017 with functioning prototypes of the new Limited Edition KODAK Super 8 camera, which will be available this spring.

“We listened to the community of directors, cinematographers and amateurs passionate about film,” stated Brian Cruz, VP/GM, Consumer Products, Kodak. “We are working hard to ensure the camera is worthy of the Kodak name. It is important to do this right, and we are very excited to be on track to perfect our vision.”

Also at CES, Kodak and partner the Bullitt Group are showing the Kodak Ektra smartphone after launch of the camera-focused device last October. Available in the US in April, it lists for $549.

Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke said the smartphone has generated “extraordinary” interest, telling the brand’s hometown newspaper the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle “Its ability to capture images like a camera but with the ease of a phone has a natural appeal to all photography enthusiasts.”

The Ektra’s camera offers adjustable shutter speed with a 21-megapixel main camera with a f/2.0 aperture, and provides optical image stabilization, auto focus and a 13-megapixel front-facing camera. A 5-inch HD display enables 1080p resolution and can capture 4K video. Corning’s Gorilla Glass gives lens and screen protection.

Kodak Alaris, spun off from Kodak after it emerged from bankruptcy, announced the return of Kodak Professional Ektachrome film by the end of 2017, after stopping production five years ago.

“In assessing the opportunity, Ektachrome was the clear choice,” said Dennis Olbrich, president of the Kodak Alaris Imaging Paper, Photo Chemicals and Film division, to the Democrat & Chronicle. “Film is our heritage and we remain committed to meeting the evolving needs of today’s film shooters.

“The retro logo feels so right,”  PopPhoto observed. “Writing about film in 2016 and 2017 usually means another stock has been discontinued, but today we have some good news for a change. Kodak is bringing back Ektachrome slide film for filmmakers and photographers.”

Kodak is working to create “the photography ecosystem of the future” — take the Kodakit service that launched in Singapore last March to connect brands and vetted photographers. At CES 2017, Kodak announced that Kodakit is now available in 37 countries including New York, San Francisco, Paris, London, and Delhi. Kodakit removes market pain points – marketing, booking, pricing, and invoicing.

“Kodakit has boiled down a complicated process into a user-friendly platform that addresses a huge and growing need in the market,” said Clarke to VentureBeat. “Kodak Founder George Eastman once said, ‘You press the button, we do the rest’. For photographers and companies, Kodakit operates on this same principle.”

Since founding in 1888 Kodak has survived the ebb and flow of innovation and digitalization, re-emerging from 2012 bankruptcy as a tech company geared towards business use. While competition exists from the likes of Snapwire and 500px, not to mention Instagram and other visually-driven social platforms, Kodak has a legacy brand lead in transforming the brand-creative exchange through an all-inclusive eco-system and an enduring track-record. Now, embracing digital at last, it’s ready for its close-up.