Kodak has announced that it’s licensing its name to a range of mobile devices that make it easier to print and share images. The company’s first smartphone will be unveiled at CES in January followed by a "4G handset, a tablet, and a connected camera" arriving in the second half of 2015. The actual hardware will be built by Bullitt Group, an English company that makes a range of ultra-rugged smartphones for construction company Caterpillar and claims to create products "using the unadulterated DNA of the brands we work with."
There's no talk of megapixels — this is all about branding
"Kodak is one of the world's most recognizable brands. It is trusted by consumers as a marque of quality and innovation," said Bullitt Mobile CEO Oliver Schulte in a press release. "We've taken that heritage and used it to inspire a range of beautifully designed devices that will let users take great pictures and edit, share, store and print them in an instant." As Schulte suggests, the emphasis is very much on software solutions rather than quality hardware. Neither Kodak nor Bullitt mention any details about megapixels, sensor size, or the like, and instead both seem intent on selling the devices for their ease of use — even including remote management software that will let "family members and friends … provide help and support."
Licensing its brand is a strategy in keeping with the radical restructure that helped Kodak exit bankruptcy last September. The company spun off or shut down its various consumer divisions (including its digital photography team) and is instead concentrating on commercial printing. It won’t be the only struggling firm trying to jump on the mobile bandwagon either: back in September, Panasonic unveiled the experimental Lumix CM1 smartphone, equipped with a large sensor and Leica lens. Kodak can get people interested with its name alone, but it'll have to contribute more than just branding to actually win customers' respect.