Apple and Google are both reportedly interested in Kodak's digital patents, but the amount each one is willing to pay is far below what the cash strapped company thinks they could be worth. By Kodak's estimation, the patents up for auction could bring in as much as $2.6 billion, which would go a long way towards settling the company's financial woes and bankruptcy proceedings. Early bids, however, haven't even topped $250 million.
When it rains, it pours, and as if Kodak didn't have enough to worry about already as it ditches the camera business and tries to figure out how to pay back movie studios millions of dollars it owes in unpaid rebates, all while declaring bankruptcy, Apple has decided it wants to dump a patent infringement suit to the company's pile of problems.
It sort of stands to reason that a company which makes photography equipment would be all smiles, especially one that's been around for over a century. The Eastman Kodak Company, founded in 1892, hasn't had a whole lot to smile about this week. Kodak on Wednesday announced it was filing a lawsuit against Samsung for allegedly infringing on certain patents related to its digital imaging technology, and just a day later the company is filling out more paperwork as it files for Chapter 11.
There was a time when film was king, and Kodak was riding high in the camera market. What a difference a decade can make. Kodak is now rumored to be planning an orderly Chapter 11 Bankruptcy filing. The paperwork could be official as early as later this month. Kodak employs 19,000 people, but layoffs are likely in the event of Chapter 11.
If you’ve been eying Flip Video’s popular MinoHD (reviewed March 2009) but have been put off by the simple-enough-for-simpletons approach, Kodak’s Zi-8 is the pocket cam you’ve been waiting for.
Think of Kodak’s feature-rich Zi-8 as the anti-Flip camera. While you can’t change the battery on the MinoHD, you can on the Zi-8. Can’t change the mic-input levels on your MinoHD? On the Zi-8 you can. Can’t play back footage in slow-motion on your MinoHD? Or run an external microphone? Or use your own SD cards? Or take still images? You get the point.
Kodak seems to have taken every geek’s wish-list for a pocket video cam and implemented it in the Zi-8. Slightly paunchier than Flip’s Mino series but comparable to Flip’s Ultra, the Zi-8 has modes for WVGA, 720p, 1080p, and even a 60fps 720p mode for sporting events. But wait, there’s more: Kodak also includes a macro mode, face-detection focusing, and an image stabilizer—hell, those guys even include a charger and HDMI cables, too!
Consider Kodak both a lover and a fighter, because the company loves to receive royalty payments, and is willing to fight for them in court. Such was the case last month when Kodak made arrangements with LG, who has already cut its first royalty check.
Now it's Samsung's turn, who Kodak accused of infringing on two of its patents. But rather than duke it out in court, the two companies have agreed to cross-license each other's patent portfolios, while Samsung, like LG, will pay royalties to Kodak.
"We are pleased to have reached a mutually beneficial arrangement that advances the interests of Kodak and Samsung and which validates the strength of Kodak's intellectual property portfolio," said Kodak's chief intellectual property officer, Laura G. Quatela.
Financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Coming as somewhat of a surprise, Kodak announced it is selling all the assets of its OLED business to a group of LG companies.
OLED technology hasn't yet hit its stride, but is gaining steam, particularly in the handheld market, as prices continue to come down. Kodak, however, isn't turning its back on OLED completely. Through a signed cross-license agreement with LG, the company will still have access to OLED technology, and both will have broad access to each other's patent portfolio, TGDaily reports.
As part of the license agreement, Kodak will also receive royalties, through the company didn't say how much. This and other financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Common sense dictates that most displays don't fare well under water, and that includes OLED technology. Or at least it used to. According to Kodak, OLEDs "are notoriously moisture-sensitive," so kudos to Kodak for demonstrating its flexible display under water.
The quirky demonstration consisted of a small flexible OLED screen submerged in a cup of water surrounded by Playmobil people. A fish (what else?) swam across the display just under the water line. Aside from the gee-whiz factor, a flexible underwater display opens the door to some innovative designs.
"Fleixble OLEDs have the potential to be a game-changer for the display world, realizing a unique form factor at lower cost," Kodak said. "They also have broad applications in the lighting industry."
OLED spreads its wings further into the consumer sector today, as Koday has unveiled what it claims is the first consumer-available wireless OLED picture frame. And it will be available just in time for the holiday shopping season, provided you have an extra grand just taking up space in you wallet.
The new frame sports a 7.6-inch diagonal panel, and because it uses OLED technology it can boast a superior 180-degree viewing angle to existing digital frames currently on the market. But lest anyone balk at the price tag (who are we kidding, go ahead and balk!), it also comes with a built-in memory card reader, USB port, and 2GB of internal memory Kodak says is capable of storing up to 10,000 images. And those pictures will be beamed through a widescreen 16:9 display at an 800x480 resolution.
So choose your poison - thousand dollar keyboard or thousand dollar picture frame?
Kodak has announced a wireless HD media hub that will mark its foray into this particular market segment. The Kodak HD Theatre player will do all a media hub is supposed to: beam videos, pictures, podcasts, music and internet radio to an HDTV. It will allow users to watch and edit images and supports up to 720p video playback. Kodak decided against a built-in hard drive, however, the device supports a host of plug-in storage media. Obviously, it will readily support other products from the Kodak stable like digital cameras and photo frames. The Kodak HD Theatre player will go on sale in September for $299.