One of the biggest mobile tech stories to have emerged over the Christmas period is the news that Kodak is to release its own Android smartphones and tablets. The development has received worldwide attention, although the scope of the coverage is not especially surprising.
The Kodak name is known around the world. But at the start of 2012, the company was fighting for its very survival.
Just under three year’s later and Kodak is apparently announcing that it is to develop products for the world’s biggest mobile platform, and in the process, enter an exceptionally competitive market.
Even the established players are struggling to make money from smartphones. And it is not so long ago that Kodak was finding it difficult to sell consumer products profitably in an area where it had immense expertise.
Yet it is not Kodak itself that is developing Android devices. The former photography giant will continue to focus on business printing solutions, but has licensed its brand name to British company Bullitt Group.
How will the Kodak smartphones and tablets be different from what is already available?
Existing manufactures of high-end Android smartphones, such as Samsung, HTC, LG and Sony, have been taking imaging seriously for some time now. It will therefore be hard for Bullitt Group to produce anything particularly revolutionary in terms of hardware, as others already have a big lead in the terms of research and development.
Bullitt Group appears to recognise that software, rather than hardware, will offer the biggest opportunity to differentiate its line of Android-powered Kodak smartphones and tablets.
“[The new devices are] aimed at – but not exclusively for – consumers who want a high-end experience but aren’t always as comfortable using increasingly complicated mobile devices,” Bullitt Group said in a statement. “The range of smartphones and tablets will come pre-loaded with bespoke image capture, management and sharing features to offer a rich user experience.”
Will Kodak’s new Android devices be any good?
Bullitt Group also produces a range of Android smartphones under the CAT brand. These have tended to receive mixed reviews from both the press and those who have purchased the devices.
The CAT B15, for example, has – at present – received 43 customer reviews on Amazon.co.uk, with an overall score of 3.8 out of 5. Whilst not a stellar rating, there are still plenty of enthusiastic users of the device.
Given that the CAT brand is best known as a manufacturer of heavy-duty industrial equipment, Bullitt Group has designed its CAT smartphones to be rugged and hard-wearing.
Although water and dust protection is becoming standard on many traditional Android smartphones, there nonetheless appears to be a market for those who want a more rugged device. And the general consensus is that Bullitt Group’s CAT smartphones meet this particular need, at least, quite well.
Of course, it is obviously not possible to make too many predictions about Bullitt Groups’s Kodak products before any have even been unveiled. However, on the evidence of the company’s CAT smartphones, there is a decent chance that the Kodak devices will fulfil a need, even if they do not achieve mass market appeal.
Release dates for Kodak Android smartphones and tablets
No specifications have been released for the forthcoming products, although Bullitt Group has said that a Kodak smartphone will be officially announced at the CES trade show, in January, 2015. During the second half of the year, a 4G smartphone, tablet and a connected camera will be unveiled.