Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Kodak CES Presentation

Kodak published its CES 2008 investor's conference transcript with some views on image sensor business:

Jay Vleeschhouwer, Merrill Lynch asks: You’ve improved thus far in the last year but can you continue that, and then let’s see, sensor technology, when do we run into the limitations of current sensor technology in terms of microns per pixel. There was some talk a year ago at the show about some physical limitations at the semi conductor level and when do you see this hitting the wall in that respect.

Naturally, Kodak pushes its pixel binning technology in response:

John Blake, General Manager, Digital Capture & Imaging Devices: I’m not sure this was mentioned in the tour, one of the key elements of smart capture is also floating resolution. So rather than give you a standard mega pixel, e.g. give you an eight mega pixel shot in all situations, we will float the mega pixels that are available for the scene. So if it’s a low light scene, we’ll actually do things where we will pull back on the number of mega pixels that we use to shoot, do some pixel bending afterwards to bring out the light and therefore, actually I can prove to you that a lower mega pixel capture will be better than a higher mega pixel capture. In terms of a physical limitation. We’re getting pretty close on CCD’s at 12 and 14 mega pixels. I think that you will see over the next two to three years, certainly more prevalence of CMOS sensors into digital cameras because of some of the capabilities they will provide where again, I’d like to get the world focused on image quality not on the mega pixels.

Shannon Cross, Cross Research: Just a couple of additional questions one with regard to digital cameras. On the CMOS opportunity that Kodak manufactured CMOS, what can you tell us about the sales of the five mega pixel that you put out, how you expect that to sort of move through your product line over time. If you talk to Canon or Sony and granite Sony has a major vested interest in CCD’s but if you talk to them, they’re not anticipating CMOS really moving into the compact camera line any time soon, so I’m just curious as to how fast you think it will move up.

John Blake: So the first aspect of the success of 513, the C513 was a camera that we launched in the late, latter part of the summer, very attractive price point, five mega pixel Kodak manufactured CMOS sensor, did very well, is doing very well. We will not disclose individual data on a specific product but we’re very pleased with the results very pleased with the performance and the capability we’ve registered the important learning for the business of integrating a Kodak CMOS sensor into a Kodak camera.

Going forward, I do believe that CMOS sensors will be in compact cameras. I do think that will happen over the next two to three years and having the capability and the technology we have in CMOS sensors does very well for us in bringing to life some of the unmet consumer needs in terms of the value they can provide for the end camera product.

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