Kodak can save itself: launch a Print API

Kodak Logo

In January, the long time leader in the photo/camera industry filled for Chapter 11 and is shutting down many divisions to stay afloat for the bankruptcy. It’s even selling more than 1,100 digital image patents to cover their continuous quarterly loss. The company has around $5.1 billion in assets but $6.8 billion in debt.

Yes, Eastman Kodak, the company that has invented the digital camera and handheld camera (among other things), files for bankruptcy after having innovated for more than 130 years. The company has been struggling recently, unable to adapt to an increasingly digital world. Since 2003, it has closed 13 manufacturing plants, 130 processing labs, and reduced the workforce by 47,000. In some ways it reminds me of Apple in 1996. Apple created the PC market, and Kodak created the camera film back in 1880. They both lost their soul at one point. I hope Kodak can find it again, as Apple did. A Kodak camera was used on the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.

It’s always sad when you see an iconic brand, which I somehow associate with my childhood memories, going away. I’m sure some people will recognize this:

Kodak flash instant camera

Kodak flash instant camera

Kodak has already done a big pivot to save itself. Instead of designing its own cameras, Kodak has licensed its own brand to other camera makers. In the last decade, Kodak has also put in tremendous effort in the printing business. As they mentioned in the Chapter 11 petition, the company has invested heavily in inkjet printers since 2003, and has been working to transform itself from a business primarily based on film and consumer photography to a smaller business with a digital growth strategy focused on the commercialization of proprietary digital imaging and printing technologies.

In the near future, no one will print photos regularly, like we did in late ‘90 with every camera roll. Our camera roll is now digital. We store the best pictures in the cloud, shared via Dropbox, Box or iCloud, and add them to our digital photo frame. It was precisely this transition from film to digital that has caused some problems to Kodak back at the beginning of the millennium. However, I believe that we’ll still print a few amazing pictures that we want to keep forever. These will be printed in a huge size to be attached on the wall of our bedrooms or living rooms, like a wallpaper.

What Kodak needs to do is to transform a camera roll (and all the functionalities related with the printing) into an API. It’s because of all the know-how they have, IPs, the brand and 10 years of investments in the printing business that they should leverage all this, and become a platform in the cloud by launching a set of APIs, beginning with a RESTful Print API.

Kodak RESTful Print API

Kodak RESTful Print API

Kodak Print API

A simple Kodak Print API could have these Endpoints:

Get Order Quote

GET https://api.kodak.com/v1/print/orderquote

Parameters

  • APIkeys
  • paper
  • size
  • color
  • quantity
  • pngurl (the URL of the PNG you wish to print)
  • shippingchoice
  • fullname
  • streetaddress
  • apartment
  • city
  • state
  • postalcode
  • phone
  • email (optional)

Results

  • ProductPrice
  • ShippingPrice
  • TotalPrice

Example response

{“PhotoPrice”:”15.00”,”ShippingPrice”:”10.00”,”TotalPrice”:”25.00”}

 

Place Order

POST https://api.kodak.com/v1/print/placeorder

Parameters

  • apikey
  • paper
  • size
  • color
  • quantity
  • pngurl (the URL of the PNG you wish to print)
  • shippingchoice
  • fullname
  • streetaddress
  • apartment
  • city
  • state
  • postalcode
  • phone
  • email (optional)
  • payment method
  • cctype
  • ccnumber
  • ccpostalcode
  • ccname
  • ccexpirationmonth
  • ccexpirationyear

Results

  • orderid

Example response

{“OrderId”:”15-73925-09613”}

 

Get Order Status

GET https://api.kodak.com/v1/print/orderstatus/{id}

Parameters

  • APIkeys
  • orderid

Results

  • status
  • submitted

Example response

{“Status”:”Printing”,”Submitted”:”2012-02-20T11:30:45”}

 

It turns out that Kodak has already created some SDKs for developers. But they are doing it wrong!

Kodak APIs can be a big business since the beginning. They can integrate their APIs into Facebook, Instagram, dating sites, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Posterous, Foursquare, Flickr, and any web and mobile app that has photos as part of their core. This means reaching almost the entire Internet population of 2 billion of people.

I believe that these people are willing to print at least the 2 best pictures every year and have them shipped at home as a big wallpaper. By providing a frustration-free way to print and ship your best moments, without even leaving the site you are in, Kodak can increase the conversion of people that will pay them to have this kind of all-inclusive service.

The only way to achieve this form of integration into third party products and platforms is through APIs.

Assuming that the avarage price per order is $25 and that out of 2 billion potential customers only 1% are going to effectively buy the service (two times a year), this is what the annual revenue will come out to:

$25 (price) x 2 (orders/year)  x 20M (1% of 2B people) = $1 billion

The new printing era is via APIs, and Kodak still has a big brand and know-how to leverage worldwide.

LIST API NOW

About

Augusto Marietti is the CEO and co-founder of Mashape. Originally from Rome, Italy, Marietti at the age of 19, founded MemboxX, one of the first data storage services in Europe in early 2007. In 2009, Marietti co-founded Mashape in a garage in Milan, Italy. The company quickly moved to San Francisco, USA, and raised $1.6M in funding from prominent institutional investors including New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Index Ventures and individuals including Jeff Bezos and Eric Schmidt's Innovation Endeavors. Marietti holds a BSc in Economics from the Catholic University of Milan.

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