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Kodak to stop selling traditional cameras

Kodak announced on Tuesday it will stop selling traditional film cameras in the U.S., Canada and Western Europe.
/ Source: Reuters

Eastman Kodak Co. on Tuesday said it will stop selling traditional film cameras in the United States, Canada and Western Europe, another move by the troubled photography company to cut lines with declining appeal in favor of fast-growing digital products.

But the Rochester-based company will continue to sell one-time use cameras in the West and expand its sales of these and other film-based cameras and supplies in markets such as China, India, and Latin America, where demand is on the rise.

Shares of Kodak rose in early trade after the announcement, and was the biggest percentage gainer among blue chip stocks.

The move comes amid Kodak's controversial plan to focus on high-growth digital products, such as medical imaging systems, and reduce dependence on its declining film business. Late last year, Kodak said it would stop making slide projectors, but continues to manufacture color slide films.

Blaming declining demand, the Rochester, New York-based company said it would by the end of this year quit making cameras that use the Advanced Photo System (APS) format, as well as reloadable cameras that use 35-millimeter film.

In 1996, when it was unveiled, Advantix was hailed by Kodak as the "most important photographic announcement since Instamatic cartridge-loading cameras were introduced in 1963."

APS was developed in tandem with Canon Inc, Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd., Minolta Co Ltd. and Nikon Corp., and aimed at simplifying the use of film and enhancing the quality of prints.

Kodak will still make film for existing Advantix and other cameras, and intends to introduce new high-performance 35 millimeter and Advanced Photo System films next month.

Camera makers typically make little profit — or lose money — on hardware, but enjoy strong margins from sales of supplies such as film and paper which much be replaced frequently.

Kodak said that it plans to continue making reloadable cameras that use 35-millimeter film in emerging markets, such as China, India, Eastern Europe and Latin America and that it will introduce six new cameras in those markets this year.

Kodak said the 35-millimeter film industry is growing at double-digit rates in those markets.