Kodak re-enters the picture with premium phone

Shopprice Australia

The rise of the smartphone camera was seen as one of the final nails in Kodak’s coffin when it filed for bankruptcy four years ago but the American photography icon has returned with a premium British-built handset.

Kodak has teamed up with Bullitt to release the Ektra, a premium phone to go on sale this year.

The two companies hope to carve out a niche in the brutally competitive smartphone market by focusing on photography obsessives, rather than trying to challenge Apple, Samsung and Google directly.

The Ektra – named after Kodak’s ground-breaking 1941 camera that ushered in an era of accessible photography – claims to far surpass the cameras on mainstream smartphones.

It features a 21-megapixel camera, advanced menus for tweaking shots and detailed editing software, as well as a dedicated shutter button and styling more reminiscent of a retro photography age than the glass and aluminium designs of modern handsets.

While it is the second Kodak smartphone produced by Bullitt, it is the first that truly aims to capitalise on the company’s photography credentials. A previous device, released to a low-key launch last year, was aimed at novices.

Bullitt, founded in 2009, does not build self-branded handsets that compete with bigger manufacturers but designs electronics for niche areas of the market by licensing well-known brands.

It builds ultra-rugged handsets for JCB and Caterpillar, as well as speakers and headphones for Ted Baker and Ministry of Sound. It is also developing a Land Rover smartphone.

“Millions of people identify themselves as keen photographers. This is clearly a niche segment but there are hundreds of thousands of people [in the UK] this would appeal to,” said Charlie Henderson, Bullitt’s product manager. “This stands out in a sea of black or white metal phones”

The Ektra, which will cost £449 (NZ$760) when released in December, is going on sale first in the UK and Europe, with Bullitt holding off on a launch in the US where sales are dominated by mobile networks.

The company is in discussions with a number of retailers and operators about selling the device.

Kodak, which had failed to adapt to the rise of the digital camera and then the smartphone, declared bankruptcy in 2012. It sold its portfolio of patents to a group of technology investors including Apple and Google for US$525m and re-emerged a year later.

 – The Telegraph, London