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Kodak Files For Bankruptcy Protection

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the hanging-on-for-another-moment dept.

Businesses 190

Snirt writes "Following up on a story previously discussed here, it now appears Eastman Kodak, the company that invented the hand-held camera, has filed for bankruptcy protection. The move, according to Kodak's news release, gives the company time to reorganize itself without facing its creditors, and Kodak said it would mean business as normal for customers. The company has recently moved away from cameras, focusing on making printers to stem falling profits."

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190 comments

And nothing of value was lost (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38747240)

And nothing of value was lost.

Re:And nothing of value was lost (1)

squidflakes (905524) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748140)

Obviously you're not a photographer.

Re:And nothing of value was lost (2)

morgauxo (974071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748478)

If photographers still see value in what Kodak offers then why aren't they buying their product?

Re:And nothing of value was lost (1, Informative)

McGruber (1417641) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749014)

If photographers still see value in what Kodak offers then why aren't they buying their product?

I would be buying, but Kodak discontinued production of their wonderful Kodachrome-25 way back in 2001. Worse, the quality of the processing declined back in the late 90s.

Re:And nothing of value was lost (2)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748512)

Obviously you're not a photographer.

I will miss Kodak for nostalgia reasons, not so much for any modern technology that we're losing. Kodachrome got phased out a few years ago, and their consumer cameras and printers, in my experience, are utterly crap.

I haven't used film in several years.

Now, if Nikon goes away, I will weep ... but, Kodak as it stands today? Not so much.

Re:And nothing of value was lost (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38748910)

Yeah, I still get a raging hard-on when I look at old kodachromes of my sister's bush. Modern digital pics, while showing more detail, just don't elicit that response.

Kodak's Moment (5, Insightful)

xmas2003 (739875) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747256)

Sad to see ... but they've been living off patents and selling assets the last couple of years ... so not surprising they ran outa $$$

If you actually invent stuff... (5, Insightful)

voss (52565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747422)

and other people use it, then you have the right to be compensated for that use.

Were not talking about patent trolling, Kodak invented technologies, uses those technologies in its own products, and licenses those techs to other companies.
Whats wrong with that. Apple wants to use its patents to block competition while Kodak wants people (including Apple) to pay when they use its technology. Kodak historically has treated its customers and its employees very well(with pensions including retiree health insurance).

Re:If you actually invent stuff... (4, Insightful)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747518)

and other people use it, then you have the right to be compensated for that use.

Even better: if you stop inventing and people stop using your products, you still have a right to fill for bankruptcy protection.

it is patent trolling (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38748198)

and other people use it, then you have the right to be compensated for that use.

Were not talking about patent trolling, Kodak invented technologies, uses those technologies in its own products, and licenses those techs to other companies.
Whats wrong with that.

Patent trolling is usually understood to be when a company or individual uses a strategy of making money from lawsuits rather than selling products. Kodak has all but admitted that this is its strategy. [kodak.com]

Apple wants to use its patents to block competition while Kodak wants people (including Apple) to pay when they use its technology.

Say what you will about Apple, but it actually makes stuff and sells it to get money.

Kodak historically has treated its customers and its employees very well(with pensions including retiree health insurance).

Aww, are we one of the beneficiaries of the Great Yellow Father? Is that why we're jumping in to defend them? Aww, your loyalty is so touching.

Re:If you actually invent stuff... (2)

morgauxo (974071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748564)

Absolutely nothing is wrong with that.

But... if that's all they do then all their factories (and many jobs) become dead weight. The large corporation becomes just a small R&D shop.

And are any of their patents new anyway? Nobody should get a profit on a patent forever! The same laws of physics that make you and I possible makes their 'invention' possible. And if they didn't discover something somebody else would have eventually. Nobody should really own that but you do get a 'guaranteed' profit for a time to make discovering it worth your while. Also, new inventions build on old ones. If patents last too long then progress becomes impossible because everything new has too many patents attached to it to be practical.

To continue to exist Kodak should be expected to do something new.

Re:If you actually invent stuff... (1)

MrAngryForNoReason (711935) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749204)

The parent wasn't criticising making money from patents. The point they are making is that the money they make from patent royalties and selling off assets was nowhere near enough to keep them afloat and that has been clear for some time now.

Re:Kodak's Moment (5, Interesting)

Lev13than (581686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747588)

Kodak's demise is a cautionary tale for anyone who owns Apple stock. The two companies have a lot in common - at one point Kodak's products were in every house in the developed world. Kodak owned entire categories of consumer devices and were heavily used by the creative classes. Kodak had the additional advantage of being entrenched in a number of huge industries, including news, media, Hollywood and hospitals. In short, they were seen as indispensable and their earnings reflected this reality.

Fast forward 30 years and they completely failed to re-invent themselves, which is mandatory for consumer products companies. Sony has its own issues, but at least they aren't trying to make a go of Walkmans any more. Apple is approaching a similar inflection point, and their need to innovate goes well beyond a slightly larger, slightly faster iPhone.

Re:Kodak's Moment (3, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748046)

Kodak didn't die because they stopped innovating... they died because they removed themselves from the camera-making business. Then, when it became clear that people wanted digital, they had no expertise or market presence in cameras. Why would someone buy a Kodak camera when they could buy a Nikon or Canon, or even a Pentax or Vivitar... anyone who had been making cameras already.

Apple is at the complete opposite side of things - they are a hardware company first and foremost. If the smart phone market goes away, along with the tablet and PC markets, then yeah Apple is screwed. If they fail to stay state-of-the-art, then yeah they are screwed. But they are not a big producer of consumables like Kodak was - Kodak is more like Gillette than Apple.

Re:Kodak's Moment (4, Informative)

squidflakes (905524) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748184)

Kodak invented the digital camera, so it is a bit false to claim that they had no expertise in the field. Where they went wrong was trying to protect their film business by sacrificing their early lead on development and licensing out the technology.

If a longer vision had prevailed at Kodak, people with Nikon and Canon cameras might be wistfully longing that they could afford one of the big boy Kodak cameras.

Re:Kodak's Moment (4, Interesting)

iteyoidar (972700) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748248)

Kodak invented the digital camera, so it is a bit false to claim that they had no expertise in the field. Where they went wrong was trying to protect their film business by sacrificing their early lead on development and licensing out the technology.

If a longer vision had prevailed at Kodak, people with Nikon and Canon cameras might be wistfully longing that they could afford one of the big boy Kodak cameras.

This quote was the most important part of the article to me, it should have been in the summary:

"Former Kodak vice president Don Strickland insists the firm's late entry into the digital market is a key factor in its recent troubles. He claims he left the company in 1993 after he failed to get backing from within the company to release a digital camera.

'We developed the world's first consumer digital camera and Kodak could have launched it in 1992. We could not get approval to launch or sell it because of fear of the cannibalisation of film,' he told BBC News.

Although Kodak was one of the original inventors of digital photography, it failed to keep pace with developments in the market and competitors including Fuji steadily eroded its share of the market."

I had no idea Kodak had anything going on with digital cameras that far back, I remember the Sonys and Canons and so on and then Kodak eventually came out with some cheap crap-cameras after film was pretty much dead, what a huge business screw-up...

Re:Kodak's Moment (4, Insightful)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748332)

I had no idea Kodak had anything going on with digital cameras that far back,

Kodak, quite literally, *invented* digital cameras. They could've released them while they still had legitimate patents on all of it. Instead, they became the poster child for the business advice, "If you don't release the better product that cannibalizes what you're selling now, someone else will."

Re:Kodak's Moment (2)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748292)

Kodak invented the digital camera, so it is a bit false to claim that they had no expertise in the field.

They had (and have!) plenty of experience making CCDs. But they gave up their consumer camera business at least a decade before digital cameras were feasible. Then, when they realized that they needed to make cameras again, they had no manufacturing infrastructure, no experience designing consumer cameras, no experience making consumer lenses.

If a longer vision had prevailed at Kodak, people with Nikon and Canon cameras might be wistfully longing that they could afford one of the big boy Kodak cameras.

It is certainly possible. They could have re-introduced their consumer cameras in the late 80s/early 90s when they were going gangbusters and adopted digital when it became cost effective.

Re:Kodak's Moment (1)

morgauxo (974071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748638)

No. They invented the CCD. Yes, that is arguably the most important part of a digital camera but really, if you compare it to a film camera the only part the CCD replaces is the film. That's exactly what Kodak had previously made. Everything else (the optics) was what the other companies already specialized in.

As much as I hate to say it they probably should have been less open with sharing the CCD while at the same time trying harder to develop cameras equivalent to the established competitors.

Re:Kodak's Moment (2)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748824)

So the fletcher invents the gun and licenses the technology out to the nascent gunsmithing industry, because they're afraid to undercut their brisk trade in arrows. Then the bowmaker starves to death because no one buys arrows for their new guns.

I can't think of any obvious historical precedent, but it seems like I've heard this story before. The market giant invents its own demise and refuses to make the leap. The dinosaur gets nibbled to death by the teeny tiny agile and hungry little mammals.

There is something vaguely Buddhist about this cycle of invention and destruction.

Re:Kodak's Moment (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748914)

Not a perfect analogy but the Japanese in the 15th and 16th centuries were the largest manufacturer of firearms on the planet, but the Shoguns got so spooked that firearms would destabilize the Japanese form of feudalism that they banned the manufacture, and Japan was literally pushed back a few hundred years. Of course, Admiral Perry came along with his really big guns, and the Japanese quickly realized they had to catch up in a hurry (and thus began probably the most rapid modernization and industrialization project in all of history).

Re:Kodak's Moment (2)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748056)

I don't see the connection with Apple. Kodak's demise came from the fact that even though they invented the hand hald camera, their film was what made them great, not their cameras. No professional photographer ever used a Kodak camera. You say "were heavily used by the creative classes", I say "citation needed" unless you're referring to the use of their film, which was unequaled. Kodak cameras were cheap consumer products. When film all but became obsolete all they had were patents, they lost the money making part of the business. Heck, consumer-grade cameras themselves are becoming obsolete, since nearly every phone has a megapixel camera built in.

If Kodak works on making the best photo printers, and making them affordable, they have a chance of not dying... now, any way. Everything dies, even companies.

Re:Kodak's Moment (2)

Lev13than (581686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748330)

In later years their killer device was film, but before that it was film + cameras. Their Brownie camera, for example, kick-starting the consumer photo revolution.

In fact, Kodak's transition from film + camera to film only (with innovations such as Kodak Disc, APS-C demonstrating their ability to develop new markets) is a good example of successful disruptive innovation. Where they failed was the jump from film to digital.

Re:Kodak's Moment (4, Interesting)

squidflakes (905524) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748502)

That really depends on the time period. During the late part of the 19th Century, The Eastman Dry Plate company was the only game in town if you were an American photographer. Yes, the higher quality European cameras were available, but at the price point, you could get an Eastman field camera in 8X10 for a quarter of the price of one of the lower quality Zeiss Anastigmat optics.

When Eastman Kodak brought Folmer & Schwing in to the company they started producing one of the most amazing and ubiquitous press cameras ever made, the Speed Graphic.

So, in the early days, professionals of all stripes used Kodak made cameras. The military in both World Wars relied on Kodak produced cameras and lenses.

You are right that Kodak made most of their money off consumables. That was their business model from the very start, but that doesn't mean they didn't produce some good, even if not quite great, cameras and optics.

Personally, I'm going to miss my Tri-X and hope that someone revives it, a la the Impossible Project.

Re:Kodak's Moment (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748062)

The similarities end there, though. I'm no fanboy, but Apple is constantly adapting to new conditions. When did Kodak, for example, make a leap similar to what did when Apple got into (and soon dominated) the music business?

Re:Kodak's Moment (1)

Kenshin (43036) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748098)

Oh yes, Apple realized this when they needed something more than a slightly faster Mac.

I'm not saying they'll do it again, but they've already been in a similar situation. Or do we forget 1997 so quickly?

Re:Kodak's Moment (2, Insightful)

flanders123 (871781) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748244)

How is this +5? Over the past decades Apple has:

-(Re)invented the home computer market
-(Re)invented the digital music market
-(Re)invented the mobile phone market
-(Re)Invented the mobile app market
-(Re)invented the tablet market

Like them or not, equating Apple to a non-innovating dinosaur like Kodak is about the worst analogy I have seen on /, ... and that is saying something.

Re:Kodak's Moment (1)

Lev13than (581686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748398)

And from the 1890s to the 1980s Kodak did the same thing, repeatedly, in the fields of consumer and professional imaging. Think Kodak folding cameras, Brownie cameras, 120 film, 35mm film, Kodachrome. Then they stopped.

Re:Kodak's Moment (1)

flanders123 (871781) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748554)

Sure this COULD happen to Apple, but I find it unlikely given their track record. The parent seems to imply Apple is near the edge of some non-innovating "inflection point" and offers only conjecture about the next iPhone as evidence.

Re:Kodak's Moment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38748650)

Apple have nearly gone out of business before it could happen again.

Re:Kodak's Moment (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748930)

Never assume anything. There will come a time when Apple will become a vast corporate machine like Microsoft and some new upstart will kick the crap out of them. I'm sure Kodak in the 1960s never dreamed that they'd be filing for bankruptcy in half a century.

Re:Kodak's Moment (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748766)

So Kodak is (was?) like Apple because they had *extensive* innovation within analog film photography? That's like saying, "oh, we diversified into both country *and* western."

Compensation not commensurate (1)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747694)

Don't forget that Antonio Perez has been overpaid [forbes.com] in comparison to the performance of the company.

Note that his pay went up in the rankings while Kodak slid further and further down.

Printers were a bad idea (5, Insightful)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747258)

I was a summer intern at KRL (Kodak Research Labs), working on digital image processing, when the whole printer thing took off, and it was painfully obvious to us that it was a terrible move. Putting Bill Lloyd (formerly head of inkjet work) in place as CTO seemed to cement things in place.

Who prints anything at home these days, anyway? Especially photos....

Re:Printers were a bad idea (3, Interesting)

sglewis100 (916818) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747408)

Wasn't their whole printer strategy selling printers with low cost ink [google.com] ? So am I understanding this correctly - their camera business wasn't making money, so they entered into the printer business, but rather than sell low margin printers and high margin ink, they sell low margin printers and low margin ink?

Re:Printers were a bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38747548)

I don't think it was a bad idea but the quality of the Kodak printer I had was bad and the last Kodak camera I bought was not great either . Am much as I thought low cost in cartridges are a good idea, I really need a printer that prints.

Re:Printers were a bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38747616)

Low volume printers and low volume ink would just be two parts of the successful photo printing equation--but generally speaking, photo papers were still quite expensive and photo printing does also use a lot of ink even if it is low volume ink. That means frequent replacement of both the photo papers and ink even just printing 4 in x 6 in photos.

Also, with today's widescreen monitors--and they do provide a better resolution than a CRT monitor--the photo can be viewed on screen with a high enough resolution, so again no real reason to print--just e-mail the photo to the recipient and they can view it too.

Re:Printers were a bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38747634)

Except that Brother printers seem to be the best bang for the buck (quality printers at a low price with low priced ink)... with only a fraction of the overhead of a failing company to support.

Re:Printers were a bad idea (2)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747724)

Gossip on the web had it that Kodak's demise is largely due to inflated executive salaries and nepotism in executive placement as their only real business strategy going forward or was that backward and down the drain.

Re:Printers were a bad idea (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747980)

It may not make a lot of money, but it sure made me happy. I'm a happy Kodak printer customer and I've referred a dozen or so people to them. I never print pictures, either. It's just a good, reliable printer for me. It would be sad if I stopped being able to get ink for that printer. Their drivers aren't perfect, but they're much more reasonable than HP, and they use Bonjour, which is kind of nice.

Re:Printers were a bad idea (1)

Mr. Droopy Drawers (215436) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748698)

I have a Kodak printer. Bonjour is the THE REASON why I hate it. Why do I need to install that on my computer just to print?

MS had the "network printer" model in place for a long time. Why didn't they just use it? It provides for driver downloads and my router takes care of discovery.

Re:Printers were a bad idea (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748944)

That model doesn't provide for network scanning. They wanted to use the same networking technology for printing and scanning. Sounds fine to me. I use a hackintosh at home, though. Works fine with both and IP address changes don't matter.

Re:Printers were a bad idea (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748434)

HP had the expensive ink market covered. Kodak's only hope was to undercut them.

Re:Printers were a bad idea (2)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747464)

Who prints anything at home these days, anyway? Especially photos....

Ask Epson and Canon who seem to be making quite the killing selling high-end yet still overpriced photoprinters for the home and to photographers. A printer sale often means a continuous source of income as companies screw customers on the cost of ink. You'd be amazed how many people actually have reasonable photo printers at home and do their own printing.

Sure the local Fuji shop is very cheap when you print a 6x4, but as soon as you step away from that standard size home printing starts looking better and better.

Re:Printers were a bad idea (4, Informative)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747488)

Who prints anything at home these days, anyway? Especially photos....

Printing and photocopying we actually do in our house ... expense reports and other things like that being the main driver. Not daily, but often enough.

Photos, I've been convinced for the last few years isn't cost effective to print ... you can get prints at an actual photo place for so cheap now, you couldn't buy the ink and paper for what it would cost you. I think the last time I got prints it was about 7 cents/print.

However, the last two photo printers we had were Kodak ... and they were absolute crap. One failed and got replaced within a month or so, and its replacement died a similar way. It was cheaply made, worked poorly, and didn't last very long. We pretty much decided we'd never buy another Kodak product again.

So, Kodak's demise may have been coming for years ... but in the end, I blame the quality of their consumer products. They were trying to compete on the bottom end, but in the end, it was just a race to the bottom.

Re:Printers were a bad idea (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747828)

Photos, I've been convinced for the last few years isn't cost effective to print ... you can get prints at an actual photo place for so cheap now, you couldn't buy the ink and paper for what it would cost you. I think the last time I got prints it was about 7 cents/print.

This only work so long as you're content with what you can get for 7 cents/print. Like everything else in the race to the bottom, you get what you pay for - and the 7 cent print is the equivalent of a Big Mac. Cheap, satisfying in the short term, but utter crap.

Re:Printers were a bad idea (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748166)

This only work so long as you're content with what you can get for 7 cents/print. Like everything else in the race to the bottom, you get what you pay for - and the 7 cent print is the equivalent of a Big Mac. Cheap, satisfying in the short term, but utter crap.

Actually, this was from a place that was doing full on photo processing with the machine and all that ... a 4x6 glossy print on proper photo paper and with the good inks, not inkjet.

It was as good a quality of print as you'd be able to get from one of those places ... and it's a "grandma" gift where she got a bunch of prints of a family event. We weren't looking for poster sized prints, or fine art prints.

Granted, that might have been a sale, because I see now the same place is about 19 cents for a 4x6 print. Still, even at 19 cents, I don't think you could buy the ink and paper for that much.

Re:Printers were a bad idea (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749130)

Like everything else in the race to the bottom, you get what you pay for - and the 7 cent print is the equivalent of a Big Mac. Cheap, satisfying in the short term, but utter crap.

Everyone gets it backwards. "You get what you pay for" is sales talk, and often incorrect. You do, however, usually pay for what you get... but not often do you get what you think you're paying for. Take that big mac. Cheap? Not compared to a hamburger you cook at home. A nickle for the meat, a penny for the cheese and bread, fraction of a penny for the stove's gas, five minutes of your time. Not cheap in the least; you're paying for convinience, for laziness, not a hamburger. And if you eat lunch at lunchtime, it isn't even convinient unless you think spending fifteen minutes idling your engine at the drive through is "convinient."

Re:Printers were a bad idea (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748002)

Are you talking about the "photo printers" that spit out 4x6 prints or the newer all-in-one inkjet printers? I happen to really like the full-size ones, but never heard anything good about the dock'n'print style printers.

Re:Printers were a bad idea (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747496)

When people say "who does X nowadays" it does not mean that nobody does it. It means that the niche for X shrank significantly. So should Kodak, but it should not automatically mean bankruptcy.

You get the frost pits, we do the rest (4, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747270)

tl;dr: don't be afraid of cannibalizing your own sales. Because if you don't, some other bugger will anyway.

Re:You get the frost pits, we do the rest (5, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747316)

That's a good rule for business, I like it.

Kodak died by not getting into the digital "thing" quickly enough and then doing poorly by the time they did. Same with Polaroid, really. Too stubborn to admit that their technology was coming to the end of an era and develop a replacement and instead letting their competitors (and even just random no-name companies at the time) do it for them.

At least they'll die having done almost nothing but film photography, so it looks like they just died as the industry for that died, rather than dragging the name through the dirt for decades trying to cling on to film's replacement.

I don't get attached to brands, but I do object to people running their businesses badly. The world's largest consumer of silver at one point - but totally failed to adapt when everyone stopped buying film. It's not a nice epitaph.

Re:You get the frost pits, we do the rest (2, Informative)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747376)

Wrong, wrongity wrong wrong.

They tried [kodak.com] going [kodak.com] digital [kodak.com] .

They were just too late.

Re:You get the frost pits, we do the rest (4, Informative)

cabjf (710106) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747454)

Kodak suffered under extremely poor management for at least the last two decades. The refusal to change with the times (like trying to shelve digital cameras to protect film sales) and selling off their profitable departments (like medical imaging) for short term gains have left them with almost nothing of value. I'm not sure how much of what is left is worth restructuring. At this point, creditors, shareholders, and retirees might be better off with a liquidation sale.

Re:You get the frost pits, we do the rest (3, Interesting)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747614)

Their research arm is still doing quite well. If they want to sell, of course, local co-giants Xerox and Bausch + Lomb may be interested in snapping up those top optics and computer vision scientists....

Re:You get the frost pits, we do the rest (3, Insightful)

edoules (2541340) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747470)

He said: 'Kodak died by not getting into the digital "thing" quickly enough and then doing poorly by the time they did.' Does that make him right, rightitty right right?

Re:You get the frost pits, we do the rest (1)

nahdude812 (88157) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748870)

Wrong, wrongity wrong wrong.

They tried [kodak.com] going [kodak.com] digital [kodak.com].

They were just too late.

Perhaps you missed the part where he said:

Kodak died by not getting into the digital "thing" quickly enough and then doing poorly by the time they did.

I wouldn't have pointed it out except you were so flamboyantly adamant that he missed the point he had actually opened with.

Re:You get the frost pits, we do the rest (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747392)

Technically, Kodak invented digital then tried to bury it before anybody noticed. It's something which happens fairly often when the CEO can't fathom how to lead the company into the future.

Re:You get the frost pits, we do the rest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38747402)

That's a good rule for business, I like it.

Kodak died by not getting into the digital "thing" quickly enough and then doing poorly by the time they did. Same with Polaroid, really. Too stubborn to admit that their technology was coming to the end of an era and develop a replacement and instead letting their competitors (and even just random no-name companies at the time) do it for them.

At least they'll die having done almost nothing but film photography, so it looks like they just died as the industry for that died, rather than dragging the name through the dirt for decades trying to cling on to film's replacement.

They could have bribe^H^H^H^H^Hlobbied some politicians like the music "industry" (non-independent, small producers excluded) do.

Re:You get the frost pits, we do the rest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38747474)

My Kodak DC240 2.1MP digital camera was my first digital camera and really very good compared with the competition at the time (easter 2000) still have it today and it works (although it is rarely used) I let the kids use it on trips as more robust than a modern camera and easier to take pictures on than a camera phone (virtual through lens viewfinder)

Re:You get the frost pits, we do the rest (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748020)

Kodak died by not getting into the digital "thing" quickly enough and then doing poorly by the time they did. Same with Polaroid, really. Too stubborn to admit that their technology was coming to the end of an era and develop a replacement and instead letting their competitors (and even just random no-name companies at the time) do it for them.

That's a common mythperception - and utterly wrong. Kodak was an early entrant into the digital realm, and a strong leader there for a number of years. Where they failed was in just not being able to keep up - their product cycles were a bit too long for digital/'net era and the steadily fell further and further behind. They still maintained strong sales (especially in the professional segment), but rather than capitalizing on this they started to push products out to meet their competitors release cycles rather than emphasizing quality as they had previously. It only took a couple of generations of this before they'd utterly trashed their reputation.
 

At least they'll die having done almost nothing but film photography

On the contrary. Kodak remains one of the most important designers and manufacturers of digital sensors in the world. Leica's current crop of top end rangefinders, widely lauded for their image quality feature Kodak designed and manufactured sensors As does a wide range of Olympus equipment and backs for medium format camera's.
 
But, as with their commercial products, they've started to fall increasingly behind. Their product cycle is still too long and they have continuing problems in converting their (until very recently) world class R&D into products on the shelf.

Re:You get the frost pits, we do the rest (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748094)

Kodak invented the digital camera. They didn't capitalise it. Kodak digital cameras are almost unheard of and have been even since the early days. In Europe they had precisely zip of any percentage of the market at all (and Europe's a pretty big market to be missing out on). The only one I've *ever* seen in the flesh was an early 1.something MP one.

Strong sales of even one model does not a success make - they failed to get into the digital thing quickly enough to make a success, even if they invented it. It's not a research failure but a business failure.

Similarly for everything else - their name is spattered across lots of industry area but they failed to keep up to the point where they actually made money. I'm not suggesting the products aren't there - they aren't making money. Any idiot can be selling millions at pitiful profit margins enough to sink even the largest company, and that's what they did.

They also culled everything but film in their history, several times. Their R&D and technical capability was good. Their business sense was non-existent. Nobody heard of Kodak digital cameras or printers until they already had burned through a dozen from competitors.

Re:You get the frost pits, we do the rest (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749056)

The only one I've *ever* seen in the flesh was an early 1.something MP one.

I hate to break it to you, but you aren't the universe. I have three different Kodak digital cameras in my collection, the latest being a 5MP C340 purchased in 2009. If my mom sends me my (recently deceased) dad's camera collection rather than leaving it to me in her will... That'll add another four different models - one being a brand new 14MP Z5010.
 

Strong sales of even one model does not a success make - they failed to get into the digital thing quickly enough to make a success

If the sales had been strong of just one model, or if they hadn't been an early entrant... you'd have a point. But you're wrong on both counts. Especially in the professional segment they were crushingly dominant with strong sales and high profits early on. But, for the reasons I discussed in my earlier reply, they let that lead slip from their fingers.
 

Nobody heard of Kodak digital cameras or printers until they already had burned through a dozen from competitors.

That may be true for you, but you're supremely ignorant of the facts and utterly disconnected from reality.

Re:You get the frost pits, we do the rest (1)

NotQuiteInsane (981960) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747378)

Better the money goes into your pot (even if it theoretically "damages" another of your business units -- in this case digital vs. film) than one of your competitors.

Kodak have brought this on themselves. I'll be stocking up on their film though. EliteChrome EBX and Ektar are pretty nice...

Failure to adapt... (4, Insightful)

ToadProphet (1148333) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747280)

Funny how little concern is shown by legislators about the failure of this business due to changing technology, yet it is so determined to protect those in the music and movie industry.

Re:Failure to adapt... (2, Insightful)

Morty (32057) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747338)

There is a big difference between "people no longer have a use for any of your products" and "people still want your products but have figured out how to avoid paying for them."

Re:Failure to adapt... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38747362)

Failure to adapt _quickly_, compounded by not paying attention to what happened to Polaroid before it, and failure to pay attention to Adobe, particularly at Adobe Photoshop.

If they hadn't had tunnel vision, they could have been the ones to do Photoshop, and really, they should have been the ones.

But business is all about seeing opportunities and exploiting them. Too bad for Kodak.

The difference between Kodak and music/movies though is that Kodak never owned the pictures people were taking. You can bet if they had, the landscape would be very different. Music and movie studios deserve to be able to protect their IP, but illegal copying is _already_ illegal and I'd claim we don't need more laws, particularly more laws that turn legal acts into illegal acts.

Re:Failure to adapt... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38747564)

Funny how little concern is shown by legislators about the failure of this business due to changing technology, yet it is so determined to protect those in the music and movie industry.

(grin) Don't give them ideas, lest they'll consider Kodak "too big to fail" as they did with GM

More hypocrisy (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747818)

Actually Kodak's destruction was helped not in a small way by government's actions [nytimes.com] preventing Kodak from diversifying their business the way they wanted to (we already had a discussion on this very topic only a few days ago here [slashdot.org] ).

The big mistake that Kodak made was staying in US and not outsourcing immediately from US and running the business the way they saw fit and moving out of the way of IRS and US regulators. Big mistake, that was not repeated by many other companies since the nineties.

Re:Failure to adapt... (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748802)

That is just stupid. Legislation does not help if people do not want your product (film cameras). However, if people DO want and use your product, but find ways to avoid paying for it, the legislation helps. The 'products' movie studios and record labels are making are movies and songs, not little shiny disks. The fact that piracy exists proves that people want the product.

The two things are not similar at all.

Re:Failure to adapt... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749100)

Those industries make money off selling the medium like shiny little discs. Yes, it's the content that's relevant, but the failure to adapt comes in not providing a medium that the customer chooses over... say... downloading a copy using BT for free.

Make products, not lawsuits (5, Funny)

MachineShedFred (621896) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747284)

If you make products that people actually want, rather than continue gravy-training the success of the past, maybe you'll have a sustainable revenue stream.

Sincerely,

Darl McBride

Kodaks fault (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38747356)

I spent a lot of time at Kodak, they deserve this. It's not just a problem with not adapting, it was a cultural problem from the top down. They were more concerned with pushing out the core knowledgeable people to make way for PC policies. They had this crazy idea also of hireing only younger talent and tons of software engineers and not knowing what to do with them. To top that off, the people at the top would not even think of investing in any new idea unless it made a billion dollars right out of the box.

Fisher really started the ball rolling, Whitmore may have been slow for digital but Fisher wasted billions in China thinking he could cheaply make film and sell it over in China. From there most top talent left, even if Kodak has a true desire to turn it around, they can not, the core knowledge is gone.

don't buy Kodak printer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38747370)

I have a Kodak printer. Piece of junk.

Re:don't buy Kodak printer (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747472)

Kodak needs to improve their printers. They also need to provide open source drivers for them. I never considered a Kodak printer because they are only useful as a paperweight on Linux or 'BSD.

Re:don't buy Kodak printer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749210)

kodak printers work fine for text-based printing - try lpr at the command line

who needs to print graphic files anyway? :-)

Kodak vs Fuji (5, Interesting)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747418)

Fuji thrived while Kodak went bust. The Economist explains why [economist.com] .

Re:Kodak vs Fuji (1)

bobs666 (146801) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747728)

I like the picture: "The last Kodak moment?"
I think I saw something like this on shashdot, since the CCD was invented at Kodak:

Kodak Employee: I just invented the charge-coupled device and can make pictures with it.

Kodak Employer: You bone head we make and sell film. Now stop wasting company time and and get back to work making better cheaper film products.

Just goes to show that if you can't think out of the box, in time you will fail, Sooner of later.

Re:Kodak vs Fuji (1)

bobs666 (146801) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747830)

ok it seems that the CCD [wikipedia.org] was invented at Bell labs. What a place to have worked 30 or 60 years ago. Still the two line drama is fiction, a fable. since it has a lesion to be learned.

What becomes of the technology? (3, Interesting)

PuddleBoy (544111) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747420)

For decades, Kodak was a technology company. Maybe not 'high tech' by a slashdot definition, but their film and paper production and (at one time) optics tech was world renowned. Even today, any company, anywhere in the world, would be hard-pressed to create a production line with the tight controls that Kodak insisted on. They did ongoing research in materials and chemistry for almost 100 years.

Assuming they stay in a slide, what becomes of all that tech? Will the patents just get distributed to the highest bidders? And will the tech ever get used again?

OK, so I'm labeling myself as a throw-back to earlier times, but it is sad to see any venture, that attained such a height, brought low and then just ... dissipated.

Re:What becomes of the technology? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38747568)

The same can be said of analog audio recording technologies. If you look at vinyl at its peak or consumer reel-to-reel, the technology, physics and engineering that went into those technologies was the best available at the time and many brilliant minds worked on the problems. Where did that engineering go? It's all gone now, except for a few hobbyists.

Re:What becomes of the technology? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38747622)

Assuming they stay in a slide, what becomes of all that tech? Will the patents just get distributed to the highest bidders?

Yes. If they go into liquidation. Which if they keep up "business as usual" is going to happen. In total, their patents and tech are not as valuable as they think they are.

And will the tech ever get used again?

Not in its original form because all of it has been improved upon. Folks may buy the patents to head off the patent trolls who may buy the patents to sue.

Kodak is dying fast. Senior mgt has been trying to sell and license the patents since at least '10 and they're not getting very far. In the meantime, every business line is losing money - it looks like the film division is in the red for the first time well, ever. Analysts are reporting the film division losing money, but I am unable to get a report to verify it. 4th quarter isn't out yet.

A Lesson learnt (1)

Snirt (1908938) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747480)

On the positive note, this offers a good lesson for existing and businesses yet to be born- Well thought, planned and executed strategies are always needed for short and long term survival.

Classic Case of Self-Inflicted Wounding (5, Insightful)

ios and web coder (2552484) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747546)

I work in the digital imaging industry, and have long interacted with Kodak engineers and digital imaging people.

Many years ago, at a FlashPix [wikipedia.org] conference (anyone remember that chestnut?), I remember talking to a digital imaging manager, who told me that his efforts to promote digital imaging were being deliberately sabotaged by higher-ups, who had thrown their lot in with film, and were seeing none of "this new-fangled digital imaging" stuff.

At that point, I knew that Kodak was screwed.

This is really sad. Kodak should have ruled the industry.

It is an object lesson in that phrase Stuart Brand coined: "Once a new technology rolls over you, you are either part of the road, or part of the steamroller."

Divesting killed Kodak long ago (1)

digitalamish (449285) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747756)

Back in the 80's Kodak had it hooks into a ton of different industries: medical, chemical, government, printing. Then someone 'smart' decided that some of those divisions weren't as profitable as the film production (which has RIDICULOUS profit margins). So, rather than continuing to expand, they decided to consolidation to squeeze out more profits.

Over time some of those divisions did die (copier divisions), but others thrived (Eastman Chemical). Kodak gambled their future on the continued sucess of film, and it was a very bad bet.

Re:Divesting killed Kodak long ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38747866)

Kodak invented the digital camera. This cannot be stressed enough. They invented the digital camera, and then put it on the back burner and tried to out-market digital photography with film because film was making them so much money at the time. They kept trying to push film until 2004. Two thousand fucking four , and watched in horror as Canon and Nikon and Fujifilm devoured their customer base. When they finally did move into consumer-level digital cameras, they did the same thing they did with film cameras: sold the cameras at a loss and the film at a prof--wait a minute, with digital they can only do the first half of that!

How can you not adapt to a technology that you (1)

Cutting_Crew (708624) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748118)

INVENTED???? They have no excuse. Other have gotten caught up in failing to adapt to technologies that they are loosely coupled with but and some of that is at least understandable, even though we know it still shouldn't happen. However when your OWN product puts you out of business.. that is nothing short of amazing.

An Icon (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748180)

Kodak is an icon and it is unfortunate that poor management and cronyism has lead to this. The company missed the boat on digital photography because they had a pair of blinders on. Upper management continued to deny the inevitable demise of chemical photography. This is ironic because RIM's CEOs made a similar mistake by denying that people would use more than a tiny amount of data per month. Poor, egotistical management has lead to the demise of both icons.

Karma is B*tch (5, Informative)

TheBouncer2006 (978273) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748214)

Once George Eastman died Kodak began its death knell...

Kodak for many years was not profitable the big trend in the 1990's was to Layoff and fire a bunch of fulltime workers in the 3rd and 4th quaters right around July & August (just in time to save on paying out vacation pay) and then again around November to December up to 1 week before Christmas. I know this because I watched peoples parents who worked 15, 20, 25, and 30 years at the company get pink slips for no reason. Then right after the new year 1st quater they would bring in thousands of temp workers to backfill those jobs. Meanwhile this made their stock float and made them look profitable since a company profits are determined by sales - costs . So by lessing the payroll they more or less fudged their profitability for years. Look back at all the layoff annoucements they always happened in the 3rd and 4th quaters of the year just in time to give the stock a bounce in the new year.

Additionally Kodak workers in the Rochester are were very loyal they bought only Kodak Cameras and anything else that was Kodak. Years ago they had employee suggestion boxes where if employees made a suggestion that benefitted the company, a refinement to an assembly line, a better way to product something, a new product an employee could write in the suggestions and in turn if it helped make the company more money by cutting costs or creating new streams of revenue the employee would see a percentage bonus in their pay based on the amount of money that idea generated. I know many people whos parents and grandparents got monetary awards from this program. However by the 1990's Kodak managers would just take your ideas as theirs and the monetary award system was ended. They became greedy

Also over the years within a few square miles of Kodak Park was a cluster of kids coming down with rare cancers, http://www.nytimes.com/1998/03/02/nyregion/rochester-parents-fret-and-sue-over-cancer.html [nytimes.com] This is also a MUST READ http://www.coldtype.net/Assets/pdfs/17.Nim.May27.pdf [coldtype.net]

in this same area people were reporting strange odors, animals becoming sick and dying, weird residue on their cars and homes, and odd fluids seeping up in their basements. One of the famous areas was Rand Street. Kodak was sued and they ended up paying out an undisclosed amount to owners of some of the Rand Street Homes. Kodak was sued multiple times for illegal dumping, fined multiple times by the EPA for being out of compliance with their factory exaust stacks. However the EPA was up and down with them while they went against them on some things they backed them on others. It wasnt until the 1990's the EPA started cracking down on them. Prior to that they turned a blind eye to what they were doing.

However they still continued to pollute the rochester region. Eastman Chemical which was part of Kodak until spun off had experimental chemicals inside of it that no one even know what they would do if they ever escaped the drums they were being stored in and because they were deemed "experimental" they did not have the same precautions and established handling procedures as known chemicals which carry MSDS sheets etc. Toulene, Benze, TCE you name it they had it.

The management became a complete joke you had managers managing managers, managing managers they made the same mistake that Xerox did. Too many inexperienced or burned out chiefs and not enough Indians. The 1990s caused part of this issue with the EOE b.s. many times fully qualified caucasian workers were passed up for job promotions, management positions and so forth especially males. If you were Latino, African American, or Asian or had a certain sexual preference you would get promoted to the top in no time even if you didn't knw how to do the job or have a college background or experience in it. Xerox did the same thing. They were both paranoid of discrimination lawsuits. So they would hire any non white male to fill a management position which has obviously turned out to be disaterous for both companies. They were out to prove they were a diverse workplace.

Then came the final straw between firing everyone possible that was a long timer to save money mind you not because of job performance issues. They then produced inferior products with little quaity control. Anyone that worked with the old Disc Cameras will tell you what a piece of crap those were, they jammed, would double expose and advance through half the disc for no reason. Then of course they were sitting on their laurels just like Xerox did which in Xerox's case let Heidlberg become a huge force to be rekoned with (funny part is they put in a main office in the old Elmgrove Kodak Facility. Kodak missed the boat on digital imaging they became irrelvant in the digital world.

They sold off all of their Elmgrove road plant, have demolished multiple buildings at Kodak Park and everywhere they have been is listed as NYS Superfund cleanup site. http://www.epa.gov/region02/waste/fskodakp.htm [epa.gov] http://www.nytimes.com/1992/01/06/business/report-sees-kodak-fines.html [nytimes.com]

At this point I don't feel sorry for them after what they have done to the Rochester community, what they have done to the environment. I only feel sorry for the people that dedicated their entire lives there and took pride in their work and will now be getting reduced benefits and possible no health insurance at all.

My phone takes 90 mins of Hi-Def video. What does (1)

Cutting_Crew (708624) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749006)

that say about home video recorders in the next, let's say, 5 years? All those hi-def video recorders at the big box stores...gone with the wind. i hope that companies get their heads out of the sand.

Back in the day I consulted at Kodak. (1)

MooseDontBounce (989375) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749016)

It was on a project called 'Software Robots' in there Applied AI department. Not as grand as it sounds. For part of my assignment I worked in a clean room with a computer, pad of paper, & pen. Nothing else was allowed in. I helped convert their film layer part formulas from one system to another. I always thought it was funny that a lowly consultant had the 'keys to the castle'. Of course everything was encrypted and I really didn't understand what I was reading. Almost everyone I worked with had 'Dr.' in their title. They were also some of the funniest people I ever worked with in my 27 years in the field. I was at Kodak Park and I still remember how funny it was to see people walking around with gun cases going to the on site rifle range. Sad day.
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