Kodak's Perez Pitches Partners, Paradigm Shift

By Greg Scoblete On Jan 16 2006 - 8:00am

Eastman Kodak chairman/CEO Antonio Perez took to the podium at the International CES Industry Insider series, here, to demolish the last foundations of the analog photography mansion his company did so much to build.

“Digital cameras are dinosaurs, not evolving as fast as the ecosystems around them,” Perez asserted. Rather than embrace new technology, the industry has been encumbered by its analog past, simply swapping “silicon for silver,” Perez added.

To break free, Kodak will seek broad industry partnerships to enable to seamless transmission, organization, archiving and sharing across every device and platform and will redefine what it means to be a digital camera, Perez said.

The company's first such partnership, with Motorola, was announced the first night of CES. The 10-year cross-licensing and marketing deal will supply Motorola with Kodak CMOS sensors and will integrate Motorola devices with Kodak products, such as its printer docks, retail kiosks and online services. The companies plan to co-develop other mobile imaging applications and products as well.

Motorola CEO Ed Zander joined Perez on stage to celebrate the liberation of billions of digital images currently languishing in camera phones. “We need a way to move these images out of the cameras and let the consumer use and enjoy them,” Zander said.

Perez also noted his company's partnership with PC-VoIP service Skype to embed the calling platform on Kodak's EasyShare Gallery Web site.

Moving imaging out of the analog past will entail creating imaging devices that no longer rely on single lenses or traditional optics and that embed facial recognition and GPS technology into an image's metadata, Perez said. The new era would also turn the flash from a “crutch” to a “creative tool” and will use advanced processing power to identify and fix photo problems before a consumer even loads the images onto a PC.

Perez said Kodak was guided by five “rules” in its product development. First, full ownership of digital images belongs to the consumer. “They must be able to access all their digital content whenever they want from wherever they want without limitation,” he said. Second, Kodak's “you push the button, we do the rest,” mantra must be a reality, enabling the consumer to easily achieve a quality image. Third, sharing images must be easy. Fourth, archiving images must be easy and permanent, and, finally, images must be truly portable.

To kick-start the paradigm shift, Perez said Kodak would leverage its extensive portfolio of intellectual property, fill in any IP gaps with cross-industry partnerships and wield its century-old brand to convince consumers to embrace digital photography.

“We will focus on three game changers to move the market,” Perez said. “Flawless imaging” — where the scene seen is the photo captured — will be enabled by Kodak's Perfect Touch software. “Intelligent content” with Kodak's E-Finder technology will replace the “tragedy of the shoebox” with a searchable, intuitive digital archive capable of self-organization that is both “interconnected and self aware,” Perez said.

Finally, “semantic understanding” will be achieved with Kodak E-Moment, “a rules-based system that learns with every use to make pictures learning organisms” remember how a consumer used them to simplify future tasks.

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