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Kodak Completes Ofoto Acquisition

Rochester, NY-based Eastman Kodak Co. Monday completed the acquisition of Emeryville, Calif.-based Ofoto Inc. Kodak announced the acquisition on April 30, with the intention of making Ofoto's technology the cornerstone of its Internet imaging infrastructure and service offerings.

"The closing of the transaction is a win for both our retail customers and consumers," said Willy Shih, president, Digital Applied Imaging, and senior vice president, Kodak. "Combining Ofoto's capabilities with Kodak's existing infrastructure delivers an unrivalled digital photography service to our customers."

Ofoto -- which will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Kodak -- brings technology, marketing and distribution assets to the table. It has 1.2 million registered users and currently offers digital processing of digital images and traditional film, prints, private online image storage, sharing, editing and creative tools, frames, cards and other merchandise. With the Ofoto acquisition, Kodak says it now has an end-to-end online service, providing an easy way to store, share and print pictures online.

The company plans to drive market growth by integrating Ofoto's Web site, infrastructure, e-commerce capabilities and digital printing expertise with Kodak's existing film-scanning infrastructure and network services, as well as the output capabilities of its Qualex Inc. subsidiary.

But while Kodak is pursuing an online strategy, Polaroid is trying something different. Believing that digital photography requires a printing solution -- and that the solution needs to be "one-click simple" and able to satiate consumers' need for instant gratification -- Polaroid Thursday unveiled two new instant digital printing technologies, Opal and Onyx, intended to create lightning fast, high-quality digital printing solutions for the home, mobile devices, microlabs, even kiosks.

Kodak has the lead time -- the monochrome Onyx technology will make its appearance sometime this year while the color Opal technology will not be made available to consumers until next year. But if Polaroid can attain its vision of placing Opal-enabled Polaroid kiosks -- capable of producing high-quality prints at a speed of 50 to 60 per minute and a lower price than current digital printing technologies -- on street corners, in drug stores, grocery stores, ATMs and so forth, Kodak may face a run for its money.