The makers of Kodak’s new flagship model are not JK Rowling but JK Imaging – a US firm that may wish it could conjure some Harry Potter magic itself, as news broke that the S-1 has failed to win interest from European retailers.
The interchangeable-lens camera – which was scheduled to hit the UK high-street in April – is set to play a role in the historic camera brand’s bid to rise from the ashes after emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US last year.
However, in a former film set, lined with vintage Kodak posters and pictures serving as an apt reminder of the firm’s glory days (one featuring the famous Brownie), it emerged that no UK retailer is interested in selling the camera.
JK Imaging, which signed a ‘multi-year’ licensing deal with Kodak more than a year ago, has targeted the S-1 only at large high-street retailers such as Tesco and Argos and not specialist camera shops like Jessops.
But, as the camera market suffers, these chains have, so far, seemed reluctant to snap up the S-1 which aims to be ‘smartphone friendly’ by featuring a case at the back – allowing direct attachment of a mobile device for wireless image transfer between camera and phone.
It seems that the company behind Dixons electrical shops at airports is unlikely to want it either, according to Greg Connell, JK Imaging’s executive European account manager.
The S-1 will, however, be available globally via a new Kodak product website.
‘The plan is not to release [the S-1] in Europe unless there is strong demand for it… so we can list it on our website, launch it and sell it but there is no retailer that has expressed such an interest in it that we felt we must bring this into Europe,’ said Connell.
‘It has not been selected by any retailer in the UK at this stage. That doesn’t mean you can’t buy it… We will put it on our own web shop.’
The cameras will be held at JK Imaging’s customer service base in Hungary, for sale online and direct delivery to customers.
But the new website is still at the ‘beta’ stage and not likely to be ready for two-three months, according to JK Imaging’s sales and marketing director Austin Kazami.
The S-1 – the development of which was announced last year – is expected to first go on sale in shops in certain parts of Asia, likely to include China, by the end of April.
Asked if there is a danger people won’t know about the camera, if it is only on sale on the internet, Kazami said in an interview with AP (see above): ‘The market is not yet there, it takes time.’
And are bosses worried that many consumers will assume the Kodak brand has been consigned to history?
‘I know what’s happened to the brand but we want to bring a new feeling… and a new impression.
‘The models we are going to bring to the market are Wi-Fi connected… a lot of products… are very smartphone friendly.
‘This new approach will take some time but, hopefully, will be accepted by the consumer…’
At CES in January, JK Imaging said it expected the PixPro S-1 kit to cost under £500.