In a bid to bring back its days of dominance, Kodak will be launching an innovative marketing program where it will be giving away full frame DSLRs for free! The catch: it uses a proprietary file format that cannot be used until it is "developed" through Kodak processing.
Until the 80s, the Eastman Kodak Company held a virtual monopoly for photographic film, controlling as much as 89% of the market. These days, if you mention Kodak, people will think you're talking about a video compression program. Kodak's other claim to fame is in MBA schools, as a textbook example of missing the boat.
Beginning this year, Kodak aims to change all that. It turns out a Chinese company flush with cash has bought a majority of Kodak's stock, and the new owners are pursuing an aggressive marketing strategy. Kodak's new management is firing right back at the digital camera makers that took away its market dominance -- by flooding the market with cheap full frame DSLRs!
Kodak is not a total stranger to DSLRs. Technically, the first Nikon F-mount DSLRs were not made by Nikon but by Kodak: the DCS series, which preceded the first Nikon DSLR by a full 8 years. Likewise, the full-frame Kodak DCS Pro 14n was released in 2002, 5 years before the Nikon D3. Apparently, after all these years, Kodak maintained its license to use the Nikon F-Mount. So its new DSLRs will continue to use the Nikon F-mount. Rumor has it that Kodak was able to acquire the many Nikon D600s being dumped in the market by owners anxious about the D600 dust problem.
Of course, there's no such thing as a free lunch, so yes there is a catch: unlike other DSLRs, these Kodak DSLRs have been modified so that they can only record in the exclusive proprietary .KDK format, which is unreadable by any current imaging program. Instead, users have to "develop" their .KDK files through Kodak's proprietary software RX Photo Lab, which will then convert the files into the more typical TIFF or JPEG for a fee.
According to Kodak's new Chief Marketing Officer Ms. April Wong, Kodak is borrowing the strategy used by razor companies of giving away the razors in order to sell the blades. According to her, Kodak is hoping that it can return to relevance and eventual dominance with this new strategy. "After all, who's going to turn down a free full frame DSLR?" says Ms. Wong.
This strategy seems too outrageous to work but stranger things have happened.