Kodak light sensor
Kodak light sensor - 
Listen To The Story


KAI RYSSDAL: George Eastman invented rolled film back in the mid-1880's. It let photographers do away with those clunky glass plates. Today, the company he founded announced it might well have eliminated the flash bulb. Kodak says it's got a new technology that'll let photographers take crisp clear pictures even when there's not enough light. Our New York bureau chief Jill Barshay reports on what it might mean for Kodak...which has bet the ranch on a digital future.

Jill Barshay: Kodak trotted out its snappy new invention for digital cameras today. It's the latest part of a transition that began three years ago when the company realized that rolls of film were no longer clicking with consumers.

Dennis LoHouse is co-owner of Bryce Capital Management. He says the company's overhaul from old fashioned film to digital photography isn't going smoothly.

Dennis LoHouse: So while they are growing digital, their cash flow business -- that film business -- shrank, I think, far faster in the last three years than they would have anticipated.

Kodak's digital camera business still isn't big enough to support the company. But Kodak does have a host of scientists who are hard at work on new technologies. Today they said they figured out a way to let more light through a camera's shutter. They say the invention will let people take pictures in dim light, even in the dark, without a flash.

Chris McNiffe is an executive at Kodak. He plans to license the new technology to other camera makers next year. He's hoping it will be used in a variety of cameras, from Nikons to the ones in Nokia cell phones.

Chris McNiffe: There may be cases where you know it's a Kodak sensor and cases where you don't. And hopefully the experience that you have with a digital camera will be that much better because it has Kodak technology inside.

McNiffe wants to expand Kodak's licensing business. Analysts say the company seems to be positioning itself as more of an inventor and less of a manufacturer.

Kodak was brought low when technological advances overran its business model. Now it's hoping a new focus on technology can save it.

In New York, I'm Jill Barshay for Marketplace.

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.