Kodak’s decision to offload its Prosper division, at first glance at least, seems a little bizarre.
Even before it was rebadged Prosper, and was simply Stream, the technology was cited as the savior of the 120-plus-year-old Kodak by the company itself and some watchers alike.
Of course, it wasn’t.
But even as recently as last year, chief executive Jeff Clarke described the Prosper business as one of the company’s “four growth engines”.
I don’t doubt for a second that the sale of the businesses is a more considered decision than, say, the intellectual property fire sale it undertook during its Chapter 11 nightmare, but even so.
When every other player, from digital vendors, to press manufacturers and consumables suppliers, are falling over themselves to get in on the inkjet action is does seem strange that Kodak wants to get out.
But then it seems that’s exactly the point.
Inkjet is a game for the big boys, with big bucks to spend on R&D, big sales teams to bang on doors and big support networks to ensure that a customer’s multimillion-pound investment consistently delivers the goods.
Simply put, Kodak is a shadow of its former self and rather than dwelling on that it appears Clarke wants to rebuild it in a more sustainable form.
Judging by the numbers, there’s still a long way to go, but perhaps in a few years we’ll look back and realise that new Kodak going toe-to-toe in a hotly contested market where the real money is in the consumables was pure folly and an exit was the smart move.
After all, it’s the plates business that has always paid the bills, and will hopefully buy it enough time to find a new saviour – and hopefully one in a slightly less expensive playground.