LAS VEGAS—The strangest photo-related information to return out of the primary day of CES is a simple decide this yr. Kodak is stepping into cryptocurrency, however with a photographic twist—its providing, KODAKCoin, shall be used to handle digital picture rights and to pay photographers to be used of pictures.
Effectively, that is what it is saying no less than. It is a bizarre transfer, even for Kodak, which has a observe file of doing bizarre issues to seize consideration at CES. Two years in the past, I rushed to the Kodak sales space in South Corridor to get fingers on with the Tremendous eight, a retro analog film digicam.
There was a giant spiel about promoting movie processing as a service, and the way it might have interchangeable lenses and an digital viewfinder. It by no means became an precise product, but it surely did win a few awards (together with one from PCMag’s sister web site, Mashable). The Tremendous eight was on show once more final yr, together with information that Ektachrome slide movie was coming again into manufacturing. (Ron Howard voiceover: It did not.)
It is not all vaporware. Kodak introduced a foray into smartphones on the 2015 present and has adopted by way of with a few handsets. And the yr prior it confirmed off its S-1 Micro 4 Thirds digicam, a product that appealed to the corporate’s conventional market, however was an bold enterprise.
This yr’s spate of choices consists of cameras, as you’d anticipate. However there’s additionally a full-body 3D scanner—you understand, so you possibly can clone your self in plastic, a racing drone, and jigsaw puzzles. By itself, Kodak’s entry into the cryptocurrency house appears random, even borderline schizophrenic, however within the grand scheme of Kodak’s weirdness, it is not nuts. We’re used to seeing bizarre stuff from Kodak, particularly at CES, and its post-bankruptcy existence has quite a bit to do with this. Since its emerged from Chapter 11, the corporate has licensed its model and emblem to a bunch of non-photo merchandise, starting from what we’re seeing this yr to extra generic fare like HDTVs.
Just about all the things you see with the Kodak model on it’s now made by a third-party licensee, an organization that companions with Kodak correct and pays cash to make use of its emblem and model identify. Kodak digital cameras? These are literally made and marketed by JK Imaging. The Ektra smartphone? It is from the Bullitt Group, which is presumably filled with Steve McQueen followers. Even the corporate’s shopper movie enterprise—sure, you possibly can nonetheless purchase Portra and Tri-X—is managed by a spin-off, UK-based Kodak Alaris.
KODAKCoin is one other instance of the outcomes of Kodak’s licensing mannequin. One other firm, WENN Digital, is creating the platform and dealing with the preliminary coin providing (ICO). The foreign money will drive the KODAKOne system. Photographers who register their work with KODAKOne will take pleasure in automated copyright safety.
It would crawl the online, trying to find use of a copyrighted picture. If it discovers a copyright violation it’s going to alert the photographer and provoke what Kodak is looking the post-licensing course of. It is not clear what that entails, however I might think about on the very least it might provoke a DMCA takedown request and probably draw up some authorized boilerplate to request monetary compensation for the copyright violation.
Is that this going to work? Are photographers going to join this? Time will inform. Wall Road is bullish over any something blockchain. Earlier than the announcement, shares of Eastman Kodak had been buying and selling for about $three. They shot to $12 yesterday, and have leveled off round $10 as I am penning this.
So Kodak doing one thing like this? It is buzzworthy, but it surely’s not loopy.
Loopy was later within the day, when information of the corporate’s different cryptocurrency bid broke. In a complete “maintain my beer” second, Kodak introduced a hardware partnership with Spotlite Power Methods of California to promote time on a bitcoin mining pc.
Here is a photograph of Kodak’s magic cash making machine. pic.twitter.com/wjWeJqMUBF
— Chris Hoffman (@chrisbhoffman) January 9, 2018
They’re branding it because the Kodak KashMiner—that is proper kash with a “ok”—which isn’t solely a horrible identify, however one which appears bizarre when it may simply be referred to as the Kashmatic, Coinmatic, InstaKashmatic, or another play on the legendary Kodak Instamatic digicam.
I am not a bitcoin skilled, however the financials appear a bit sketchy to me. There is a $three,400 payment to make use of it for 2 years, and you need to share your income with Kodak/Spotlite on a 50/50 foundation. The pamphlet touting the contract guarantees a $9,000 return by the tip of two years, $5,600 revenue, not accounting for earnings taxes. However these figures assume that Bitcoin costs keep the place they’re now. If it will increase dramatically, you’ve the potential to make much more. If Bitcoin tanks, you can find yourself shedding cash.
You will by no means see your KashMiner, it’s going to stay in a server farm someplace. It was truly on the CES present ground yesterday, however has since been eliminated; Kodak reps declined to e-mail a photograph or let PCMag snap a pic. However you possibly can see it within the tweet above, and if you happen to suppose it seems to be like one of many ghost traps employed by Invoice Murray and his ghostbusting pals, you are not fallacious.
The KashMiner is the weirdest Kodak product I’ve seen, and that is saying one thing.