It's no big surprise given Kodak's ongoing financial woes, but it still marks the end of an era: After some increasingly desperate measures, Kodak announced yesterday that it plans to phase out its dedicated capture devices business in the first half of this year. This means all Kodak cameras, its popular line of pocket camcorders, and its digital photo frames—including new products announced last month at CES—will all be discontinued. The company will continue offering tech support and service to the discontinued products (and honor all product warranties).
It's a move that makes sense, given that after dragging its feet in the transition to digital (despite the fact that the digital camera was invented at Kodak), the company was never really able to catch up to its competitors who embraced the new medium earlier. Though its pocket camcorder line gave the market-creating Flip camcorder a run for its money...well, you know what happened to the Flip. And there haven't been many real stand-out digital cameras from Kodak, though I used to favor them for folks like my parents for their press-here-dummy ease of use, and I really did like the innovative, but short-lived dual-lens V series cameras that combined a fixed wide-angle lens and a zoom (and turned out to be too expensive to make for the company to keep on the market). Nowadays, there are plenty of even easier to use budget shooters and compact megazooms with wide-angle lenses are a dime a dozen.
Kodak Brownie 2 image by HÃ¥kan Svensson, CC 3.0
This is not to say you won't be seeing any cameras with the Kodak name on them anymore—the company plans to expand its current brand licensing program, so you'll likely see more cameras (but of course the likelihood of these being any better than past Kodak cameras is pretty slim). Kodak will continue to produce inkjet printers and camera accessories, and its online and retail photo printing business will live on for now (including the Kodak Gallery online photo printing and sharing service). Plus, Kodak has a number of commercial businesses, focused on printing, graphics, and commercial film as well.
Yeah, it's been a while coming, but considering that the company was making consumer cameras since the 1800's (including the famous Kodak Brownie that sold for $1) it still makes me a little sad, kinda like this day did.