Should Apple buy Eastman Kodak?

“Kodak has turned to the courts, slapping fresh patent abuse lawsuits against Apple, RIM and HTC,” Jonny Evans writes for Computerworld. “In my opinion, Kodak is ripe for acquisition, and Apple should purchase the firm — or someone else will.”

“As I look at it, Kodak’s dwindling balance sheet and profit decline reflects the difficulty it faces transforming itself for the new tech era, despite its invaluable technological assets,” Evans writes. “The fate of the 120-year old firm signals a wider change. This is that the old PC-era-based models are mutating, creating new challenges and forcing a new relationships.”

Evans writes, “With little growth to look forward to… Kodak is attempting to secure its future by protecting its patents. That’s why Kodak is suing Apple, HTC and RIM on strength of claims the three firms have infringed four patents related to digital camera images. A complaint against Apple has also been filed with the US International Trade Commission. I’d argue that rather than fight the legal battle, Apple might consider acquiring Kodak, or at the very least purchasing some of the firm’s patent portfolio.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The only thing with any real value is Kodak’s patent portfolio. It’s up to Apple to peg its value and bid accordingly if they find it worthwhile.

Related articles:
Eastman Kodak sues Apple over four and HTC over five digital imaging patents – January 10, 2012
Eastman Kodak teeters on the brink, prepares for Chapter 11 – January 5, 2012
Arbiter delays ruling on Kodak’s patent claim against Apple and RIM – December 19, 2011
Why Apple should buy Kodak’s patents, or possibly the whole company – July 21, 2011
Kodak plummets 19% as suit against Apple, RIM remanded to judge – June 30, 2011


      1. … wrong. If only in a minor way.
        qka says it is a bad idea to buy Eastman Kodak … and that’s right on. They (EK) have seen the writing on the wall for over a decade and failed to respond to regain market share. In anything! With their stockpile of cash. But! Buy their patents? Most certainly! You get to at least THINK about suing other people that way, rather than get sued yourself. And MSFT might still buy the desiccated husk that once was a proud company.

      2. I was of course referring to their patent portfolio and not necessarily their infrastructure, i.e., properties, buildings, and other holdings.

        The fact is, some venture capitalist group will probably buy and gut them for their patents, after which they will use them as a weapon. Better for Apple to pay a little more now for their portfolio and avoid having to settle out of court for the next decade.

  1. The one part of Kodak’s ongoing ops that might interest Apple are the CCD imaging detectors. They are very good and are used in a wide range of scientific and industrial applications. Of course, the tech needed to make them is in the patents. I can think of lots of uses of $1 billion or so that would be more stupid than buying Kodak and parsing it for its patents and usable tech.

    1. I bought one. I was doing some spring cleaning a few years ago, found it in the original, put it on eBay, sold it for $200 or something to someone who collected Apple stuff. Got a lot of bids from collectors.

      Still trying to find the low priced Newton, new in box.

  2. Kodak’s most valuable patents are related to cellular phone photo imaging and previews of the camera on the phone. MDB Capital Group said the digital-imaging patents owned by Kodak may be worth $3 billion in a sale. Kodak said its portfolios include more than 1,100 U.S. patents related to capturing, processing, storing, organizing, editing and sharing digital images. Those digital patents represent some 10 percent of Kodak’s total U.S. patent portfolio.

  3. Wasn’t one of Steve’s next big things photography?

    I would like to see Apple buy, and expand the photo/video capabilities of iDevices, and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless camera peripherals.

  4. I think Apple should acquire the Kodak patents if it includes the inSite Publishing Workflow as well. I think Apple will thrive even more so with it along with it’s patents.

    Kodak’s chemical department is thriving and should be a separate company on it’s own.

    1. Eastman Chemical is a separate company spun off in the early 90’s in a bid to make Kodak more “high tech.” Eastman Chemical is doing very well, so that wasn’t a great move.

      However, good idea on the inSite.

    1. Yes, that’s why you’re sitting in your mommy’s basement, eating pizza, and not contributing to the economy of the US. Unless you consider downloading porn to be a economic boon, then sure.

    1. KenC, I see your postings on this and other sites and find you to be a usually rational poster. However, unless Kodak is involved in litigation in areas other than digital imaging, I don’t think a buyout like you envision is going to happen.

      1. I didn’t mean to imply that it would work! They are desperate throwing hail mary passes, hoping something will save their bacon. The CEO in the past year has made it seem like their litigation against Apple and RIM would result in a $1B settlement, when of course, his benchmark was against companies like Samsung and LG which make far more camera featurephones than Apple or RIM make camera smartphones. On a per unit infringement basis there was never going to be a $1B settlement, using the Samsung and LG decisions. And, that’s only if Apple and RIM lose the case.

        While I don’t have any inkling regarding the merits of this new lawsuit, it does seem to me that Kodak would have launched their best patents against Apple first, so that these must be less likely to win in their own estimation.

        1. Good reasoning, and I agree with you. Unknown is the number of irons in the fire that Apple’s stoking, and which are hottest. Without more inside info, informed speculation can only remain that.

    1. The patents could be worth a lot of Apple. Not only could it help with its own technology, but they could use to annoy the living hell out of google, HTC, Samsung, Nikon, Canon, or whomever needed to be annoyed that day.

    1. Kodak still dominates the movie film industry. Yes, movie film will always be around, since it gives a better visual experience than digital (more lines of resolution at this time, contrast that probably will never be met by digital) and is preferred by many of the leading filmmakers across the world.

      Kodak is a shell of its old self, but the patents are worth something. It’s probably going to be some sort of asset sale, since the individual parts are more expensive than selling it as a group.
      Kodak holds many of the basic patents for the CCD and CMOS film capture devices. And as many engineering companies, they have added to their portfolio which makes it difficult for any other company to get around it.

      1. Incorrect. Movie film is a dying business too. Since Avatar, film use has dropped massively each year, to the point where it is predicted that all the major film studios will go digital by 2015. That is right around the corner in business terms. Only small art production studios will keep film going, but that wont help Kodak at all.

  5. Buy the company? No- Hell No.

    Buy the patent portfolio? Yes.

    Buying the company would bring it’s liability along for the ride. Given the chemicals used in photographic processes and manufacturing- no way.

  6. No.

    Kodak has too many liabilities to be attractive to Apple.

    I have lived in Rochester NY (Kodak’s headquarters city) and worked at Kodak. Like any other city, you read a lot in the local press about the major local industries, and talk to people that work there. And somethings you see from just driving by.

    It has too much real estate and factory structures. In about 1990, Kodak had to buy homes (Rand St.) adjacent to its some of its manufacturing plants because of underground chemical contamination. Who knows what other contamination there might be. Then there are the stories of literally tons of silver in the nearby Genesee River. (Silver is the key to film photography.)

    Then there are the costs of shutting down what is left of the film and paper business. After the expenses of laying people off, what do you do with the buildings? Alternately, there is the expense & effort of selling off those operations. Good luck with that!

    Kodak does more defense work than you might realize. (Think satellite and other military imaging & sensors.) So the federal government/DOD will be involved.

    There is more, but it is obvious that Apple should not want to have anything to do with Kodak except buying patents.

  7. “The only thing with any real value is Kodak’s patent portfolio. It’s up to Apple to peg its value and bid accordingly if they find it worthwhile.”

    Agree. The last thing Apple wants is Kodak’s outstanding obligations and liabilities, including billions for pensions and health care for Kodak’s thousands of retirees.

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