JK and General Imaging odd bedfellows

JK Imaging and General Imaging – the company selling cameras under the GE brand – share the same Los Angeles office address – down to the same office suite number –  indicating at the very least a close working relationship between the two entities.

Joe Atick (JK Imaging, Reddot, Jaacx Distributors) with General Imaging founder Hiroshi Komiya and sales VP, Rene Buhay, launch GE cameras in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2007.

Joe Atick (JK Imaging, Reddot, Jaacx Distributors) with General Imaging founder Hiroshi Komiya and sales VP, Rene Buhay, launch GE cameras in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2007.

The address of General Imaging is:
1411 West 190th Street
Suite 550
Gardena, CA 90248

This is the same address, including Suite 550, that JK Imaging provides on its hastily cobbled-together webpage.

General Imaging was founded by Hiroshi Komiya, who was on the scandal-ridden Olympus board of directors from 1997. In 2004 he became the first President of Olympus Imaging Corporation when the parent company spun off the imaging business as an independent company. He left Olympus in 2005 and in 2006 he established General Imaging as a privately-held company, with the licence to market cameras sporting the GE brand.

He brought Takeyoshi Kawano, one of the world’s leading industrial designers, along with him from Olympus: Takeyoshi Kawano, according to his official biography, ‘played a key role in the look and functionality of the Sony Walkman, the Sony Betamax VCR, the VAIO personal computer, and Olympus’ Stylus series digital cameras.’

GE cameras certainly boast a distinct stylishness (as opposed to ‘Stylus-ness’), as well as representing outstanding value on a dollar-for-specs basis. KS

Manufacturing alliance

The other major player in what seems like a business grouping in which JK Imaging provides an apparently separate US ‘shop front’, is Taiwanese/Chinese camera and lens manufacturer Asia Optical – a former (and now revived) manufacturer of Kodak cameras, and a manufacturer of GE, AgfaPhoto and Fujifilm cameras, among others.

Asia Optical was hit hard when Kodak withdrew from camera manufacture, according to investment research company OSK: ‘It (Asia Optical) used to focus more on work for American firms like GE and Eastman Kodak, but Kodak’s recent bankruptcy had its impact on Asia Optical’s business.

‘…Given Asia Optical’s situation and how it has been struggling to break even, management this year decided that a strategic shift in direction was needed and has decided to stop receiving low-margin camera assembly orders.’

(Click here for report – well worth a read beyond the scope of this story.)

In this fast-thickening plot, Asia Optical comes into the picture not just as a contract manufacturer, but as registrant and administrative contact for the JK Imaging website, while the official IT contact for the JK Imaging website is: mis@aoci.com.tw – with aoci.com.tw being an internal Asia Optical website.

Left and right hands unaware?

Asia Optical founder and chairman Robert Lai launches Kodak Pixpro cameras this week on behalf of...who? According to Mr Lai, all R&D and manufacture for Kodak cameras will be handled by Asia Optical, and help the company achieve sales growth of 30 percent in 2013, following a drop in revenue last year of 15 percent, attributed to Kodak's bankruptcy. He is showing the new Kodak mirrorless interchangeable S1, due for release in the third quarter.

Asia Optical founder and chairman Robert Lai launches Kodak Pixpro cameras this week on behalf of…who? According to Mr Lai, all R&D and manufacture for Kodak cameras will be handled by Asia Optical, and help the company achieve sales growth of 30 percent in 2013, following a drop in revenue last year of 15 percent, attributed to Kodak’s bankruptcy. He is showing the new Kodak mirrorless interchangeable S1, due for release in the third quarter. (Pic: PCOnline.)

In an entirely separate event in Beijing just days after Eastman Kodak and JK Imaging’s unusually concise announcement at CES of the licensing of the Kodak brand for cameras, executives from Asia Optical and (we think) JK Imaging announced the first of JK Imaging’s Kodak cameras and the new ‘Kodak Pixpro’ brand.

It doesn’t appear that this event was intended for a US audience, as no press release was issued by IMS Miami, JK Imaging’s marketing/PR consultancy, nor Eastman Kodak – and  no mention was made of imminent product releases when the JK Imaging/Kodak licensing agreement was made on January 7.

However, the fact that one of those cameras was a Micro Four Thirds model – and thus technologically interesting – saw the story being picked up by specialist industry website 43rumors, from an original report translated from Chinese website PCOnline.

(As an aside, JK Imaging this week joined the Micro Four Thirds systems standards group.)

Joining the (red) dots…

So far we have a fairly intertwined set of relationships between Asia Optical, General Imaging and Joe Atick (JK Imaging, JA Capital Holdings).

Another of Mr Atick’s companies, JA Capital Imaging, is no other than Reddot Imaging by another name. Reddot is distributor of AgfaPhoto cameras in the US and AgfaPhoto and General Imaging cameras into the Philippines.

– While General Imaging Japan distributes both GE and AgfaPhoto cameras into the Japanese market.

NOTE: Some of what is contained above is attributable to some outstanding ‘desktop sleuthing’ from a small group of Kodak stakeholders: shareholders who have suffered financial loss and/or ex-employees deprived of health insurance entitlements who have been, to put it mildly, significantly disadvantaged by the disastrous decisions of current EKC management over the past few years under the well-bonussed Antonio Perez.  


2 thoughts on “JK and General Imaging odd bedfellows

  1. Pingback: General Electric was behind the Kodak Micro4/3 « NEW CAMERA

  2. Thank you for following up on your original article. Great work! By the way, we have additional information posted on our message board, including transcripts of interviews following the 1/18/2013 press conference involving JKI, Asia Optical and representatives of Kodak (China) Investment Company. Please visit kodak.boards.net

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