Illusions of drupa 2012
Kodak is now operating under bankruptcy protection and the illusion that things the company did when silver halide film was its cash cow still have relevancy in the second decade of the 21st century.
In a largely black stand, Kodak claimed that “Yellow Changes Everything”— a theme based on the color of the billions of boxes of film sold over the years. Seems like a stretch to me, but I understand what it’s attempting. I’m just not sure that the tie-in is causing many print providers to line up to buy from a company that’s on the ropes and is trying to sell off its IP assets.
Although a “leaked” memo touted the success the company was having at the show, a source inside Kodak tells me that none of the orders signed at drupa were really being signed in Düsseldorf. The order for a fourth Prosper press for Toppan Forms was signed weeks ago, as was a deal in India that had been on hold for over a year while waiting for Kodak to finally ship the Image Optimization System.
This (staging formal order signings at a show) is hardly a new tactic for any vendor, as systems with seven-figure price tags have long sales cycles. But in this case, it makes the company look a little desperate.
Still, Kodak rolled out new, faster versions of the Prosper inkjet press and toner-based NexPress, along with other refinements to existing products. And the big 53˝ monochrome book press done in conjunction with Timsons shows that there are printers who see the potential for Kodak’s Stream inkjet technology. These are good things on the product side, but the company’s srupa stand lacked excitement and some visitors described it to me as depressing.
Then there was the press conference. CEO Antonio Perez stood in front of a packed room with no PowerPoint slides and fielded questions, mostly about the bankruptcy. While I credit him for being willing to do this, Perez didn’t exactly catch the bullets in his teeth, and often came across as defensive. Reactions among journalists and analysts were mixed. Some thought he looked bad, others credit him for standing firm for 45 minutes of verbal parrying. Either way, I don’t think Kodak came out looking strong, and more importantly, there was nothing to encourage anyone that a new Kodak is going to arise from the remains of a business built on early 20th-century technology.