Imation Resets Sights on Data Storage Technology

The company is refocusing on data storage technology-but it's still marketing some new electronics products, including a TDK stereo reminiscent of retro boomboxes.

Oakdale-based Imation Corporation is shifting its focus from branding back to data storage and technology.

Mark Lucas, who took the reins as CEO in May, is overseeing the shift. Lucas served as president and chief operating officer prior to assuming the role of CEO.

Since 2006, Imation has acquired the brands Memorex, TDK, and XtremeMac, and it has previously described itself as a “brand and product management” company-a departure from its earlier focus on data storage products.

The company sold a variety of consumer electronics products under its acquired brands while maintaining its storage business under the Imation name.

“In recent years, our emphasis has been on brands. . . . We've spent time redefining each of those brand's targets and product roadmaps, and have been re-launching the brands with great products in traditional and emerging storage, and in electronics and accessories,” Mary Rawlings-Taylor, director of corporate communications, told Twin Cities Business on Monday. “With the brand work solidly done, our strategic focus now has swung back somewhat to technology and our data storage core, as we intend to use our full portfolio of brands to help people and businesses store, protect, and connect with the digital world.”

Imation's new technology-centric incarnation is ultimately a return to its roots. The brands it has acquired in recent years originally included data storage, but Imation expanded them to also include additional electronics products.

The company's data storage portfolio now includes what it calls “traditional storage”-including magnetic tape and optical media-but it also comprises external hard drives and other backup devices. New Imation data storage products offer security functions, such as the Defender F200 Biometric Flash Drive, which reads fingerprints to grant access to data.

Rawlings-Taylor said that the company plans to hire additional engineers with the skills to match its focus on data storage and protection. The company also recently added audio engineers to assist in its move into high-fidelity audio products.

The restored focus follows a couple of years of financial difficulty. Imation's revenue dropped from $2 billion in 2008 to $1.65 billion in 2009. During the same period, its losses grew from $33.3 million to $42.2 million.

But 2010 saw positive indicators: In the nine months that ended on September 30, Imation reported a loss of $25.9 million-down dramatically from a $66.2 million loss during the same period in 2009.

Imation's recent focus on data storage has not hindered the introduction of new electronics products. At last week's international Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the company unveiled a new stereo-reminiscent of retro boomboxes-that Rawlings-Taylor says provides a unique blend of digital and classic analog audio.

See video coverage of the product by Rolling Stone here.

Imation is among Minnesota's 30-largest public companies based on its 2009 revenue.