Kodak Launches Electronics Trade-in Program

Kodak filmAdd Kodak to the growing list of businesses participating in what's come to be known as "re-commerce."

The iconic photo company recently launched a trade-in and recycling program, whereby consumers can turn in their used consumer electronics for cash. The move reflects Kodak's ongoing commitment to sustainability, according to a press statement.

Kodak's trade-in program will accept everything from used printers, digital cameras and video cameras to digital picture frames and camera accessories, such as lenses and flashes.

Consumers interested in the trade-in program can go to the Kodak web site, create an online account and then provide information on the product(s) they're looking to trade. Based on that information, Kodak will then provide an instant resale value estimate, a Kodak spokesperson told WalletPop.

If the product has resale value, the Kodak spokesperson explained, then SMASH Direct, a Kodak partner and a provider of online trade-in programs, will send consumers a pre-paid shipping label, so consumers can ship the product to them. Consumers will receive their payment via check upon receipt and inspection of the item(s). If the product doesn't have resale value, the consumer will be referred to a site that gives them information on local recycling options.

For Kodak, the move is mostly designed to generate good publicity, Ulysses Yannas, an analyst with Buckman, Buckman & Reid, an investment firm that covers the company, told WalletPop. "They are being ecologically sensitive."

Kodak joins the rank of such recycling firms as Gazelle.com, which offers consumers cash for their unwanted electronics (and bills itself as the largest re-commerce company), as well as retailers like WalMart.com, Sears and Costco, which all reward shoppers with store gift cards when they unload their used electronics at those stores.

Still, Kodak could conceivably also generate a minimal profit from this trade-in business as it can refurbish gently used products and resell them, says Yannas, "like what [people] do with cars. It's the same story."

As photographic film has gone the way of the eight-track tape and the pay phone, Kodak has been forced to reinvent itself. The company is banking on its computer printer business as well as its patent licensing business to do just that, Yannas says.

According to BusinessWeek.com, Kodak generated $838 million last year from patents alone. The company licenses its digital imaging technology to cell phone companies such as LG,Motorola and Samsung, which pay royalties to use Kodak's intellectual property for the technology used in camera phones.

And if Kodak wins its lawsuits against Apple, maker of the iPhone, and Research in Motion, BlackBerry's parent company, the photo pioneer stands to gain a big financial windfall, Yannas adds.

The U.S. International Trade Commission sided with Kodak in its patent-infringement fight with the companies. This month, the commission found that both the Apple iPhone and the BlackBerry infringe on Kodak-patented technology in the way they preview images.

The ITC is expected to rule on the patent claim by June 23. If the ruling comes down in Kodak's favor, that could pave the way for Kodak to "collect as much as $2 billion" in royalty fees, Yannas says.
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