While Brighton Securities and others seem less than thrilled with Kodak’s patent sale prospects, Kodak themselves have released a statement declaring that in fact 20 companies have signed confidentiality agreements to look into patent purchases:

Kodak Files Motion for Competitive Auction of Digital Imaging Patents

Over the past 12 months, Kodak’s financial advisor, Lazard, has conducted an extensive marketing process for these assets. To date, 20 parties have signed confidentiality agreements and have been provided access to an electronic data room.

This is a bit of parsing. Just because a company signs a confidentiality agreement with Kodak does not in any way imply that they’re actually going to buy anything. The confidentiality agreement just protects both parties’ company secrets so that the bidding company can feel free to have a look around.

The company is currently looking for approval of a confidential bidding system. Is this for the sake of potential buyers, or to save face when nobody bids?

In the sunniest terms possible, Kodak claims a partial victory in the Apple and RIM patent suit they had originally hoped would yield a billion-dollar payout.

The presser points out that, while the current ruling claims that Apple and RIM did violate the patent but that the patent is invalid, one previous ruling was exactly the opposite. They plan to appeal. What’s the chances that they go double-zippo in the next one?

While in the early throes of their current bankruptcy, KODAK executives announced that they would be concentrating their efforts on the nascent and as yet unprofitable printing side of the business at the expense of the consumer photography business that had been their source of brand recognition for eighty years. At the time, what I did not personally anticipate was that, rather than their crappy home printers, KODAK would focus on… newsprint.

It is genuinely hard to imagine the benefits of swapping one dying industry for another. But in a flurry of press releases, KODAK has made it clear: they believe they know something that we don’t.

On Saturday, KODAK announced their new print process, dubbed KODAK SONORA NEWS. Freaking KODAK and their ALL CAPS names, but I digress. The new print process is one the company claims to make running print presses faster, cheaper and greener. The company claims this improvement is achieved by skipping the processing step entirely, allowing publishers to go directly from the computer to the press.

On Sunday, KODAK announced still more details on their new Computer to Press (CTP) process. The KODAK Intelligent Prepress Manager (my CAPS LOCK thanks you) is designed to allow more control for printers, data-driven models and – get ready for this – mobile access. I guess so you can change fonts while you’re dining. Or something.

Finally this morning, KODAK unveiled another complimentary bit of software for their CTP system, wNewsNet. This press release seems larded with industry buzz words (funny, that) and doesn’t really describe much of what wNewsNet actually does…

Taken together, it is clear KODAK plans to push this system hard. I can imagine that this points to what is probably a much more profitable future for print media: extremely small presses, efficient and hands-off, that can print out paper copies of digital media on-the-fly. Not exactly friendly news to the giant press industry – this opens the possibilities of more City Newspapers and even smaller publishers, not more profitable D&Cs – but that’s all assuming that this whole thing doesn’t fall on its face in the first place.

They say we fear what we don’t understand, the unknown. Well, I don’t really know who ‘they’ are but I do know that I’ve heard it enough to consider it a ‘they say…’ notion.  ‘They’ also say flying is the safest method of transportation. Given these two accredited ‘they’ facts, I would have to agree with ‘them’.

I wouldn’t say I had a fear of flying, but more that I had a fear of not knowing if I was afraid of flying or not. I grew up in Montoursville, Pennsylvania, a tiny Americana town in the middle of the state with a minimum 3 hour driving distance from any city. Montoursville’s only real notoriety happened during the summer of 1996 when I was 11. On July 17, my small hometown gained worldwide attention when TWA Flight 800 exploded off East Moriches, New York, killing all 230 people on board – including my future high school’s entire French Club, French teacher, and chaperones in attendance. I’m not sure if it’s changed since then, but as of my high school graduation in 2003, all field trips were still strictly prohibited – flying, driving, or otherwise.  It’s not an event I dwell on or anything that’s caused me to dodge flying, but when my boss approached me about a conference in Houston that he wanted me to attend, it was definitely one of the multitude of thoughts that began spinning through my brain.

That was January 16, last Monday, when I took my first flight. It was uneventful, borderline boring, and as everyone assured me it would be, completely safe and sound. Sure, statistics and experience both had the upper hand here, but I didn’t have that experience to grant myself peace of mind. However, by the day I flew home on January 18, I did, and it was much less stressful. The next day, Kodak went public with its announcement of filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and I can’t help but notice a correlation between my possible flight fears and Rochester’s reaction to possibly losing Kodak.

Just because a plane crashed many years ago did not mean my plane to Houston would crash. Likewise, just because Kodak has filed for Chapter 11 does not mean it will indefinitely  go under- it’s just seeking some extra protection and security. Still, knowing the likelihood of success doesn’t always put our minds at ease. It’s that state of anxiety and despair that we already have all the needed information to predict a future of dread that leads us to that fear of the unknown. If knowing is half the batlle, how can we prepare to go up against anything without that necessary foundation?

I’m still trying to find an answer to that, and I’m not sure if anyone truly has one. What I do know is that I wouldn’t have sought a plane ride out on my own. I needed that push to see that I was bigger than that impending fear and ultimately enhance my experiences and open more doors for myself. Going back to ‘they’ (‘they’ sure are smart, aren’t ‘they’?), ‘they’ also say sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can go upwards. Maybe hitting the Chapter 11 rock was Kodak’s push.

I don’t think anyone in Rochester was shocked by Kodak’s announcement, but it was definitely a turning point for Rochester as a whole. What happens next when a significant part of your city’s roots faces extinction? Yes, Chapter 11 could mean the end – but it doesn’t have to. Chapter 11 is a second chance, a time to evaluate the next steps, and hopefully build up into better days. Undoubtedly, Rochester would not have made a mark in history the same way without Kodak. It’s time to look past that anticipatory angst of what may or may not happen and trust in the right precuation to ensure a smooth flight into clearer skies.

The Associated Press posted yesterday afternoon that the number of people leaving the Kodak board of directors has risen to three with the exit of Laura Tyson. Once again, no explanation for the departure has been given, the revelation being announced quietly in an SEC filing on New Year’s Eve.

These departures don’t look very good. To the rest of us, they look like rats exiting a sinking ship. But in lieu of an actual reason for the departures either from the outgoing directors or the company itself, we are only left to wonder.

The Associated Press: Kodak loses third board member in 2 weeks.

For all their faults, give KODAK a bit of credit for doing something interesting with their social media presence. The Sacremento Bee picks up on a press release that I also got, but I’ll actually do the work of translating for you, rather than just posting the PR (which is below, if you’re into that sort of thing).

The gist is this: buy a KODAK Gallery product – they’re offering three different packages, made up of photo calendars, cards and other stuff – and then share it with your friends for a discount. Really, this is a way to cut the middle man – Groupon, I’m looking in your direction – out of the loop and get the social media bang out of holiday spending.

KODAK Gallery Partners with SocialTwist for “Holiday Value Packs” – PR Newswire – sacbee.com.

While earning my web development degree, I had cause to put together a portfolio of graphic design work with Photoshop. I opted to create pseudo-classic print and film styles for the theme of that portfolio, including a three-panel series using the halftone effect to look like the cheap old comic books I grew up on. I chose some Kodak Tower photos and a theme I think we can all easily recognize for this series.

Of course beginning last week Friday, Kodak’s eventual turn to bankruptcy became a current events topic, instead of just a hypothetical one. And the situation in Rochester is now dire enough that national news media does not seem able to keep track of it without confusing one fiasco with another. Thank god that dude doesn’t yet know about the #rocpotties situation.

In any event, I decided to repost this graphic series, mostly out of fun. Also, I think some people might be surprised by some of the technological advances for which @Kodak is responsible, and with which this series concerns itself.

 

080809_Kodak_Logo Kodak has just posted a second-quarter loss which is staggering, relative to this time last year: 20% down from second-quarter 2008. Oh, that’s not good. CEO Antonio Perez says his company predicts a 1 to 3 percent up-tick in sales by the end of the year, which is far from reassuring.

And not quite as crappy, but crappy nonetheless is news that the Rochester Broadway Theater League is bowing to the obvious and looking outside Rochester for it’s new venue. You may recall – a hazy, foggy, far off memory, to be sure – that the Renaissance Square project was originally to include three theaters for use by RBTL, MCC and others. Well, that shit ain’t happenin’, is it?

So once again, those in search of culture must look outside Rochester. Great.

I’m not sure how many people got the ax last Friday, but I just got a call from a good friend in the server administration and high-level web usability department that he got the word Friday. I’m supposed to be going out for lunch with friends in my department as a going away thing for me, which is really nice of them, but I wonder if there won’t be more people than just me in attendance who are also going away.

I’ve got two years here. It’s not easy to let go of. But damn, I can’t imagine what it’s like for people with decades of experience.

I spoke to a recruiter at my placement agency today about the layoffs at Kodak, he was asking me what I thought the effect on my group would be. I told him I expect it to be pretty rough, which I’m sorry to say I do. He told me that just about 100% of the contractors working through this agency for Kodak were being denied their contract renewals.

How many people is that? I asked.

“Its. . . . Well, it’s just ridiculous.”

Bloomberg has found all the people who don’t like Kodak and interviewed them about the Kodak dilemma. Maybe I’m oversensitive, and there is useful information in this article. But the first interviewee, Shannon Cross, makes it seem as though Kodak has been floundering all along. This is not accurate, from the perspective of sales or competitiveness. Kodak has actually met or exceeded it’s reporting for the last couple of years, except now that business has basically sucked for everyone equally.

But I should probably stop following this story for the blog.