Kodak launches a smartphone with the camera at the center

Picture perfect? Kodak unveils its latest smartphone

Kodak launched a smartphone on Thursday with a souped-up camera as the photographic equipment maker continues on the path to reinvent itself after bankruptcy.

The Kodak Ektra smartphone is a £449 ($551) Android device with a 21 megapixel camera sensor, and a so-called decacore processor.

Users can used an "advanced manual mode" allowing them to make adjustments on an image such as the exposure or shutter speed, as well as selecting scenes like "night-time" or "sports" just as they would on a conventional digital camera.

"This is a phone that really emphasizes the camera…as opposed to a phone that happens to have a camera with it," Jeff Clarke, chief executive of Kodak, told CNBC in a TV interview on Thursday.

"It's very intuitive, it will be a real hit for people today carry around or use traditional digital cameras. It's going to bring that device to your phone. Nothing out there does that today."


Kodak went bankrupt in 2012 as the company credited with inventing the digital camera failed to keep up with the sweeping changes in the industry. In 2013, the 124-year old firm emerged from bankruptcy and has since been focusing on its printing business, which forms the largest part of its revenues, as well as other areas including film.

Earlier this year, Kodak launched a revamped Super 8 camera, a device that was popularized in the 70s, with many major filmmakers including "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" producer J.J. Abrams backing the revival of the technology.

The Kodak Ektra is the firm's second phone after the IM5 last year. It was manufactured by Bullitt Group using the Kodak branding. Another key feature is the ability to film in a "Super 8" effect.

"I think it will certainly appeal to those who take photography first, if that's a hobby or profession, but it's at a price point below phones that have 'me too' cameras," Clarke said.


Kodak is attempting to make a splash in an increasingly saturated smartphone market against behemoths of the industry including Samsung, Apple and Huawei. At the same time, a number of fast-growing Chinese competitors are creating high-quality phones that are garnering wide appeal.

Still, the Kodak boss said there is still room for growth.

"The phone market is a crowded market and I don't think there has been significant differentiation over the last couple of years and this has significant differentiation among one of the functions that most people use their handheld smartphone for. We do think this is a growth area for Kodak, but it's also kind of in our core," Clarke told CNBC.

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