Many of you may remember Fujifilm or Kodak fondly as giants of analog photography which were pretty much shoved aside with the advancement of the digital age. Unless you frequently use analog cameras (you hipster), you’ll realise that there’s not really a market for film rolls any more.
So, what are these companies doing now in the new digital age? Fascinatingly, they’ve both taken very different paths to diversify their companies. It’s a fascinating topic of study for business/economics students.
Kodak, an American company whose logo is still plastered at the ends of movie credits, filed for bankruptcy back in 2012, citing that it would concentrate on digital technology.
So, in 2014, Kodak announced that it was going to be making a… smartphone. Named Kodak Ektra it’s now available in the UK before moving to the US in the coming months.
While it may be a smartphone (it runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow), it’s marketed mainly for those who prefer photo-taking to simply playing games on their phone. What do you expect from a photography-based company, right?
The smartphone boasts a 21MP camera (iPhone 7 has 12MP), with a 13MP front-facing camera for… you guessed it, selfies. The retro-styled body is slightly bulkier than most smartphones of today (because it has a big f/2.0 aperture lens), plus a USB type-C port with 32GB storage. It’s kind of like a huge Instagram camera with built-in photo editing app, Snapseed.
Style wise, it’s reminiscent of a Kodak camera with a leather-wrapped curved surface and a camera button. There’s also an option to buy a retro leather case if you’re into hipsterism.
Initial reviews of it haven’t been too positive, so it’ll be hard to sway hardcore fans of Samsung and iPhone. No price has been confirmed or whether or not it’ll be available in Singapore, but initial estimates puts it at US$550.
Much like Kodak, Fujifilm had to diversify from colour film production, but instead of diving into the digital age, it did something… strange.
In 2007, Fujifilm entered the cosmetics field.
You may have heard of the brand Astalift, which is a series of skin-care products developed by Fujifilm. While this may seem a bit odd, it actually makes total scientific sense. Why?
Apparently, the natural antioxidant astaxanthin that prevents the colour fading of film from UV light can also be applied to human skin to prevent ageing. It’s now a key ingredient of Astalift products. In addition, collagen, which makes up about half of the materials in film, is also a major component of its skincare products.
The company has since extended its product lineup to include base makeup. In short, it has transferred 80 years of photographic research in controlling the light and applied it to the skin to achieve the ideal skin tone as you’d see on film photographs.
Today, while Fujifilm still makes colour films – and Instax – its cosmetics division is one of its most profitable.