Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Reasons Behind the Demise of Kodak

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the ran-out-of-moments dept.

Businesses 200

pbahra tips a story that goes into the reasons behind Kodak's decline and fall. Quoting: "With digital, a significant shift in mind-set occurred in the meanings associated with cameras. Rather than being identified as a piece of purely photographic equipment, digital cameras came to be seen as electronic gadgets. The implications of this shift were enormous. With digital devices, newcomers such as Sony were able to bypass one of Kodak’s massive strengths: its distribution network. Instead, digital cameras became available in electronic retail outlets next to other gadgets. Kodak was now playing on Sony’s and other entrants’ turf rather than its own. Similarly, Kodak’s brand came to be associated with traditional photography rather than digital."

cancel ×

200 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Pretty simple (3, Insightful)

Severus Snape (2376318) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177517)

They failed to react to changes in their market.

Re:Pretty simple (2)

what2123 (1116571) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177653)

Just wait until they use their remaining resources to legislate their existence for another 20+ years. +1 for Corporation Lobbying.

Re:Pretty simple (5, Informative)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177755)

They failed to react to changes in their market.

Not true, Kodak actually adopted digital technology extremely early. They ventured into inventing many of the first generation digital photography technologies in association with Apple (and that’s biting them in the rear since now the patents they got from that and are using to sue Apple, among others, are being disputed by Apple as also or exclusively belonging to them.)

What really killed Kodak was the structure. The company had an extremely high profit margin business model in the film arena. So profitable they own[ed?] their own silver mills. When digital photography came to be, and film finally died, a humongous branch of their business died.

The only way for them to survive would have been to axe a gigantic percentage of the company, firing insane chunks of their manpower and getting rid of a lot of physical assets. The problem with such a move with a publicly traded company is that it makes it sound like the company is dying; investors will pull back in a heartbeat if the company suddenly axes over 60% of their manpower (and I’m being generous, they likely would have had to cut back even more.)

Another issue was that Kodak had too many eggs in one simple basket. They did go into photocopiers and printers, but those are two shrinking markets. In fact, now that it’s dying the company finally decided that they may as well axe the entire photography business and stick to printers. At this point they have little to lose since everyone knows they are walking dead. Investors that would had pulled out already did.

Kodak could have expanded in other fields, like computers and displays or TVs, spread their boundaries. This would have made them a bit more resilient to any given branch drying up. Or they could have gone the Apple way and not expand like crazy just because they can, keep a huge stockpile of cash in the bank and not expand operations just because they can afford to, only if they had to. Actually Apple did both. They expanded from computers into music, mobile smartphones, and TV setup boxes (business that is rumored to expand even further) not to mention invent a brand new computing branch with content consumption focused tablets.

So, Kodak did try to adapt, react and even be proactive, but restricted themselves to the familiar grounds (photography) and decided to live (like most companies) using up almost all their income nearly as quickly as they acquired it.

Re:Pretty simple (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177925)

That's what bankruptcy (restructure) is for.

If you have to cut out a shitload of people and start fresh, then that's what it takes.

Or they can give up and cut their losses.

Re:Pretty simple (1)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178293)

You can't file for bankruptcy just because you see that the market is headed in a different direction than you. You must be in very bad position already for that to be an option.

Re:Pretty simple (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178301)

Except that isn't what it would have took.

You have to do that AND keep your investors from bailing out.

There is no invisible hand of the market to keep things fair or level or insure that good business decisions get rewarded. There are only buyers and people who act irrationally and without full knowledge of what they are acting upon.

Re:Pretty simple (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39178119)

That sounds like failing to react to changes in their market. Yes, they had some nifty science projects in the '70s, but they bet the farm on the market not changing. The market changed, the execs cared more about padding their salaries than keeping the company successful, and here we are.

Re:Pretty simple (4, Interesting)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178325)

No body is mentioning the fact that they had an image problem - at least here in the UK, they were seen as having started as a low price company, worked their way to raising the prices with improvements in quality, and then ditched the quality while retaining the high prices. Kodak could have done loads of things, but with an image of selling over priced tat, they were probably already doomed. (Like Carly Fiorina and HP).

Meanwhile Samsung has gone from selling cheap tat to top of the range. Who is is making the profit? Is there a lesson here?

Re:Pretty simple (3, Interesting)

The Phantom Mensch (52436) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178409)

I think it's fair to say that Kodak adopted digital imaging about as well as Xerox adapted all of the ground-breaking technology out of Xerox PARC. That is, not well at all.

Many people say they should've gone into the camera business but I don't think that would've worked. Not many American companies can compete in the world of consumer electronics these days and the digital camera business is mostly a consumer electronics industry.

Maybe they should've tried to create the iTunes and iPod of photography. Take your pictures with whatever camera you want, but if you want to make your pictures look their best plug them into the eKodak kiosk or iKodak software for your home computer and we'll make them look better, and allow you to share them with Granny online or send her some pretty photo albums. Sort of iPhoto meets Flickr meets Facebook.

Re:Pretty simple (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178599)

Not true, Kodak actually adopted digital technology extremely early. They ventured into inventing many of the first generation digital photography technologies in association with Apple (and that’s biting them in the rear since now the patents they got from that and are using to sue Apple, among others, are being disputed by Apple as also or exclusively belonging to them.)

What really killed Kodak was the structure. The company had an extremely high profit margin business model in the film arena. So profitable they own[ed?] their own silver mills. When digital photography came to be, and film finally died, a humongous branch of their business died.

I'm not so sure it wasn't failure to adapt after all. In fact, your own description pretty much says it was.

It was a given that film was going to go away fairly early. While Kodak did make some forays into digital photography, they did not lead the charge into a whole new way of doing business. It happened without them. They were not a significant player.

Additionally they ceded the only other remaining aspect of the old methods to HP. They pretty much dropped the ball on printing too.
That previously relied on a silver process, and Kodak simply could not get away from that silver technology in any meaningful way.
So both sides of the company got hit with a new technology, and rather then leading the way, Kodak hung on to the past.

Their only chance for survival would have been to wholeheartedly embrace digital photo printing, where they at least had the chemical expertise, and the possibility to retain a "consumables" portion of the business, in ink, paper, and also devices (printers). But HP beat them in that market as well.

While a dozen companies make photo printers, (even Kodak) they are a huge pain in the neck, the ink is always dried out when you need it, the paper is way too expensive, way too finicky, and the archival quality is abysmal. Few people bother to print family photos as a result.

Sadly lost in all of this is the family photo album, or the shoebox of history. Nobody prints photos anymore. Entire family photo history is lost
to the first hard drive failure, and the one at a time viewing of computer files on a monitor is simply unsatisfying.

Re:Pretty simple (2)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178771)

Here's another take; Kodak was primarily a chemical company, now trying to compete in electronics.
Kodak might have been more succesful if they dropped photography and focussed on areas where their expertise was still valuable.
Ofcourse, any "might have been" is just hindsight.

Re:Pretty simple (5, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177757)

More to the point their Marketing failed to convince their consumers that Kodak was changing with the market.

Right when Digital cameras were getting popular, Kodak should have gone all out in their marketing trying to sell their own Digital Cameras and far more effort on their Printers and such.

The problem with their Printer Campaign was they were trying to sell that they have lower Total Cost of Ownership... It is really tough to sell Lower Total Cost of Ownership, They should have pushed High Quality Images... And TCO is one of the benefits that customers will get later.

Re:Pretty simple (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178309)

their corp. culture seemd like that even if they had a digital camera thing going, they would have spinned it off..

Re:Pretty simple (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178681)

Exactly. Film was going to die. Printing was all there was left.

They pretty much let HP take that away from them.

There is no reason Kodak could not have pushed both high-end pro-grade printers as well as home-snap-shot printers. They didn't do either with any gusto, and thereby gave up everything they had.

Photo printing, as a result, still sucks so bad that we put up with digital picture frames!! OMG, what an abomination.

Oversimplification (4, Informative)

Comboman (895500) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177815)

They failed to react to changes in their market.

That's not entirely true. They saw digital photography coming before most people did (they still have many of the original digital photography patents to show for it). They had digital cameras [wikipedia.org] on the market while Canon and Nikon were still saying bits would never replace film, and Sony was still making cassette Walkmans. Their biggest problem was public perception rather than reality. People still saw them as a film company rather than a camera company.

Re:Oversimplification (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39178609)

I would say Kodaks biggest problem was corporate inertia, they had always made there profits on film and I think there was assumption that they always would. Pushing digital cameras would have cannibalized there film market so instead of embracing the emerging technology and going all out to establish themseleves as THE digital camera company, they instead invested in abortive technologies like the ill-fated APS in the hopes of staving off the digital threat.

In seems a shame that what was once such an innovative company, looks like its going to be reduced to nothing more than another parasitic patent troll because kodak's senior management put their heads into the sand and ingnored a changing market.

Re:Pretty simple (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177835)

When I purchased my first Digital Camera for under $100, that's when Kodak's film cameras died!

Re:Pretty simple (2)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178199)

What killed Kodak was simple marketing. They were too late to associate digital photography with the Kodak brand. They invested in the tech early, they just didn't push hard enough for mindshare. There's no reason they couldn't have succeeded the way the Japanese camera companies did. They just made bad choices in promotion.

Aaahh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39177525)

How about short sighted management and poor execution, did we really need an analysis?

So, let them die. (5, Insightful)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177535)

I'm not sure why people think that it wasn't a right and proper thing for Kodak to die.

Kodak's strenght was film photography. There turned out to be plenty of other companies with strengths in digital, why should Kodak have colonized that market? Let them produce the stuff they're good at as long as people want it, then quietly go away. There's no reason corporations need to be immortal.

Re:So, let them die. (4, Insightful)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177581)

I am not sure if anyone is arguing to "bail them out" or anything like that, but it is an interesting experiment to try to figure out what exactly went wrong and what way would had it been possible to save the company.

I think in the future, during economy or enterprise management studies; Kodak's history will be deeply dissected and studied.

Re:So, let them die. (5, Insightful)

cshirky (9913) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177681)

But this assumes that the natural lifespan of a company is infinite. What I think Geoffrey is saying is that when Kodak went out of business, the answer to "what exactly went wrong?" is that nothing went wrong.

Here's an analogy: Imagine I offered you one of two things: 200 millions tons of granite rubble, or a cathedral. Which would you pick?

The cathedral is the obvious choice -- the stone in its raw state is fairly dull, while a cathedral is a spectacular work of architecture, the fruit of countless hours of skilled human effort. The cathedral has value right now, while the rubble isn't good for much without an enormous amount of additional labor.

What if labor was part of the equation, though? What if I gave you a choice between the beautiful cathedral and the chaotic rubble, with the stipulation that, after you chose, it was your job to build a bridge.

Now you want the rubble. Though the cathedral and the rubble are made up of about the same amount of stone, building the bridge out of the rubble will consume all the energy required to build a bridge, but building the bridge out of the cathedral will require all the energy needed to build a bridge plus all the energy required to dismantle the cathedral. For some tasks, it's simpler to start with raw material than with a beautiful structure that has to be dramatically altered to serve your purpose.

Now imagine I offered you one of two things: You have to build a digital photography business, and you can start with Sony, or Kodak. Which would you choose?

The problem Kodak faced wasn't that they couldn't have become a digital photography business. The problem Kodak faced was that the digital business was so different from what they are good at that the restructuring costs were crippling, *precisely because they were perfectly adapted to the previous era.*

Re:So, let them die. (4, Interesting)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177903)

I think there is plenty wrong to find in Kodak's history, but not as obvious as many think.

I went deep into another post in this article here: http://tech.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2695641&cid=39177755 [slashdot.org]

There is one common trait that Kodak shares with every single other company out there (and most American households, ironically) and it's that they lived nearly month to month. Unlike households (that tend to just want to enjoy the moment so they don’t save for a year of potential unemployment) most companies don’t like having too much money "burning a hole in their pockets" since they feel every unspent penny is missed opportunity.

They live with barely enough money to pay operational costs for a month or two. If profits go down, they are forced to fire people left and right (why we see investors go crazy for small 2% profit drops.) Some drastic thing happens that changes your market within a year and you will go bankrupt quickly, even if you are willing to adapt or even if you are yourself the first to start such a market trend.

Re:So, let them die. (2)

clairity (853242) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178389)

I went deep into another post in this article here: http://tech.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2695641&cid=39177755 [slashdot.org]

There is one common trait that Kodak shares with every single other company out there (and most American households, ironically) and it's that they lived nearly month to month. Unlike households (that tend to just want to enjoy the moment so they don’t save for a year of potential unemployment) most companies don’t like having too much money "burning a hole in their pockets" since they feel every unspent penny is missed opportunity.

the previous point you made is well taken, but this second one is overly broad in that companies vary in the padding they maintain. the amount of cash a company keeps on hand (or doesn't) depends on industry characteristics, competition, regulatory environment, supply chain risk, and other factors like that. apple is a prime (counter-)example here with $98 billion in cash on its balance sheet. this cash is kept for a variety of reasons, but a few to note: the highly dynamic industry that apple competes in, the supply chain risks it's exposed to (including currency risk), and the competitive threat that such a large amount of cash represents to its potential competitors. elsewhere, someone pointed out the adverse tax consequences of paying out dividends with this cash, which is another valid (but tangential) reason to keep lots of cash.

Re:So, let them die. (1)

BetterSense (1398915) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178781)

It's also related to tax policy. Income which is poured back into assets and operating costs is not taxed. The goal for American corporations is to show 0 profit. To do otherwise results in paying more taxes.

Re:So, let them die. (4, Insightful)

nightfell (2480334) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178319)

But this assumes that the natural lifespan of a company is infinite.

No, it doesn't. It assumes the lifetime is indefinite, which is different.

Unlike, for example, humans who live to around 60-125 tops, companies don't have a built-in expiration date (they used to in the US, but haven't for over a century).

What I think Geoffrey is saying is that when Kodak went out of business, the answer to "what exactly went wrong?" is that nothing went wrong.

Nothing went wrong with the market. It did what it's "supposed" to do. The question is what went wrong with Kodak. They didn't do what they are supposed to do.

What if labor was part of the equation, though? What if I gave you a choice between the beautiful cathedral and the chaotic rubble, with the stipulation that, after you chose, it was your job to build a bridge.

With business, labor is always part of the equation. Digital photography and film photography aren't like a building and a bridge. It's like a building and a building. Would you rather have a pile of rubble to turn into a restaurant, or a cathedral to turn into a restaurant?

And stone is much more difficult to rearrange than a company, in terms of labor. It's only harder, potentially, in the mental task of coming up with a solution.

Now imagine I offered you one of two things: You have to build a digital photography business, and you can start with Sony, or Kodak. Which would you choose?

Or Nikon or Canon?

The problem Kodak faced wasn't that they couldn't have become a digital photography business. The problem Kodak faced was that the digital business was so different from what they are good at that the restructuring costs were crippling, *precisely because they were perfectly adapted to the previous era.*

Nonsense. The problem wasn't that they couldn't change, but that they didn't change. Nikon and Canon (and Olympus and Fuji and countless other film-era companies) made the switch just fine.

Just because Kodak failed (or, "is failing" might be more appropriate) doesn't mean failure was the only possible outcome for Kodak. The *film* side of Kodak must fail, but the *camera* side of Kodak was under no such restriction.

Re:So, let them die. (2)

S77IM (1371931) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178521)

I believe the phrase you want is "They were victims of their own success."

It's a pattern that repeats constantly. Arguing against results is hard, and usually stupid. When some new kid comes along and says, "Let's stop doing X, which has been tremendously successful, and switch to Y, which is the next new thing?" the rational response is "How's 'New Coke' selling these days?" And yet, that new kid will be right some small % of the time. How can we determine when that guy is correct?

THAT's the question we should all be asking about Kodak.

  -- 77IM

Re:So, let them die. (2)

ikarys (865465) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178895)

200 millions tons of granite.... That's a damned big cathedral.

Re:So, let them die. (2)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177607)

Because they invented the digital camera. They should have capitalized on that fact, my like Xerox should have capitalized on the GUI/mouse system that they had.

Re:So, let them die. (1)

FaxeTheCat (1394763) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178671)

The problem is that although they invented digital cameras, their expertise as a company was not in cameras and electronics, but in manufacturing film, which is mainly chemistry.
Kodak were never a big company in cameras (proven by the fact that the high end model they had was just a digital back end for a conventional SLR from one of the main manufacturers, I cannot remember if it was Nikon or Canon).
Nikon and Canon were camera manufacturers. They adapted to the digital technology, because they had (and have) their expertise in cameras. Kodak's main expertise is in the very single part of a camera that is not needed anymore, the film. So whole Canon and Nikon had to adapt (they had already started to put electronics in their camera) by replacing the film mechanics with a CCD and some electronics,
Kodak would have needed to change the company to a completely different business. Not so simple. They tried, but the change was apparently too big to be possible.

Re:So, let them die. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39177635)

Kodak died when their CEO said people aren't interested in digital cameras, and then refused to adapt, even though they had a part in the technology.

Re:So, let them die. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177829)

I think it is because Kodak was an American Company. Centered in Rochester NY close by to a lot of popular collages. So when such a company goes out of business it is sad for the community that was built around it.

Re:So, let them die. (4, Interesting)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177905)

I'm not sure why people think that it wasn't a right and proper thing for Kodak to die.

Kodak's strenght was film photography. There turned out to be plenty of other companies with strengths in digital, why should Kodak have colonized that market? Let them produce the stuff they're good at as long as people want it, then quietly go away. There's no reason corporations need to be immortal.

I don't see "people thinking" Kodak should or shouldn't die in TFA . . . more of a postmortem analysis.

Anyway, I understand that there's no reason for corps to be immortal, but most people working at a given firm would just as soon it didn't go belly up right now while they're working there. Even if you're looking to quit a place, you'd rather do it on your schedule than the liquidator's.

A sibling of this comment mentions Xerox missing the boat with the GUI, but they seem to have re-invented themselves nowadays doing OCR and image recognition and document and photo management and analysis. Probably too soon to know if this will work, but they did hang on when their market changed.

Likewise with Kodak, you'd think they could have found other things to do in the photography arena. You've got websites like Flickr that store and share photos, Shutterfly and Snapfish that provide hard copies in formats that an ordinary home or office printer can't produce. Kodak probably should have gotten into those areas, among others. But as TFA mentions, they had such an emotional and physical investment in film they didn't want to let go of it.

And what about Fuji? They do plenty of digital stuff, but you can still buy their film. TFA doesn't mention what they did differently.

Re:So, let them die. (1)

Aviation Pete (252403) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178707)

And what about Fuji? They do plenty of digital stuff, but you can still buy their film. TFA doesn't mention what they did differently.

Fuji lives in the middle of many electronics companies, all potential or actual suppliers of all kinds of digital camera parts. Kodak, however, lived in upstate New York, in a Kodak company town (Rochester [wikipedia.org] ), and their potential suppliers for digital products a continent away.

Re:So, let them die. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39177983)

Any business that chooses to die peacefully rather than adapt to changing market conditions is lousily-run and the executives responsible for strategy-making should be run out of town. Corporations have a firm and unending responsibility to deliver value to investors. Saying "we're going to lay down and die" is a big "Fuck You!" to anyone who ever invested anything in the success of your company.

They pioneered digital photography and then cast it aside in their business model, despite the fact that it had very strong potential to cannibalize their film sales. Kodak's cash cow (film, not cameras) starved and died because they lacked foresight and thought if they just closed their eyes, plugged their ears and went "lalalalalala" people would keep buying expensive and now-irrelevant film.

If Kodak had recognized digital photography's potential and taken that opportunity to jump into the solid-state storage industry, they would have easily thrived in the film-to-digital transition.

Re:So, let them die. (1)

nightfell (2480334) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178149)

I'm not sure why people think that it wasn't a right and proper thing for Kodak to die.

Because most people think fondly of Kodak. I'm not sure why you think people should be cold and calloused about things they like.

Kodak's strenght was film photography.

So were Nikon's and Canon's, but they both jumped into digital with both feet.

There turned out to be plenty of other companies with strengths in digital, why should Kodak have colonized that market? Let them produce the stuff they're good at as long as people want it, then quietly go away. There's no reason corporations need to be immortal.

No, there isn't. But there's also no reason a company can't go from one market to another. Look at Nintendo, Sega, IBM, Apple, etc. The key is the ability to change with the markets.

Kodak failed in this regard. And sure, that does mean the company itself "deserves" to fail in the market, but that doesn't mean people can't miss them. Polaroid did the same thing, and now lives on essentially as a brand, the original company no longer really exists.

Re:So, let them die. (1)

funwithBSD (245349) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178471)

Another difference between Kodak and Nikon/Cannon is that those companies continued to develop high end cameras and the trickle the technology down to consumer goods.

Kodak fell into a mushy middle ground, with no Professnal or pro-sumer products for serious buyers and not enough differential at the low end of the market.

When I went to buy my first digital cameras, I stuck with the names I knew from film: Cannon, Pentax and Sony (Minolta)

The Kodaks looked like Modern day Brownies. Functional, but very basic.

Re:So, let them die. (1)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178273)

There's no reason corporations need to be immortal

Nor, if they're well managed, do they need to die. There's no reason that they couldn't have found a way to evolve to better embrace the digital photography economy, even if they did not own it.

That being said, I'm mostly going to miss it for the nostalgia value. I grew up in a world where "Kodak" was the "Kleenex" of photography. Everyone I know who is my age or older has owned at least one Kodak camera, and to me, it's a little sad to see the guard change.

The industry disappeared (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177541)

Kodak was a photochemicals company. Then film disappeared, and they didn't have expertise in any other areas that would enable them to keep selling something. A best-case scenario for them is liquidation.

Re:The industry disappeared (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39177599)

they still have a market in photo chemicals.
that stuff is absolutely essential for the photolithography market, which is used in the printing industry. Kodak will still be around but will only be an industrial chemical manufacturer.

Re:The industry disappeared (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39177727)

Um no. They had actually diversified into fibers and plastics, and they pretty much invented the digital camera with a mod'ed Nikon SLR body. I think they saw the market move, but just couldn't adapt fast enough. You could make the same high level arguments for Digital and Xerox.

We're in the middle of another shift and that one threatens the Camera Industry as a whole. Once you get 8mp cameras in phones, you take out the market for all but the "hobby and pro" users.

Re:The industry disappeared (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39177759)

I agree. From experience, and keeping track of what other photographers use, Epson has absolutely destroyed them in the small and medium volume professional printing market. I think Kodak held onto the idea of handing photos over to a lab for printing, when most photographers switched to just spending a couple grand on a good printer and having complete control.

Re:The industry disappeared (2)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177779)

The thing is Kodak sold off the non film production and R&d. Those companies are still profitable.

Kodak literally made one product and when the market for that product dried up so did Kodak. It all falls down to diversification. Kodak wasn't and so died.

Do we prop up car companies when someone invents the teleporter?

Microsoft will probably suffer the same fate. It has two products windows and office. Without those Microsoft wouldn't be profitable and would soon be in bankruptcy themselves

Canon (5, Insightful)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177553)

That didn't prevent other giants of traditional photography like Canon and Nikon to evolve and adapt to the new era, successfully competing again the new kinds.

Re:Canon (4, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177655)

I think the difference is, as someone else pointed out, that Kodak was primarily a photochemical (and film) company, whereas Canon and Nikon are primarily camera companies. With the decline of film, came the decline in photochemical usage. As for other photochemical uses, like printers, companies like HP, Brother, etc... have long-standing reputation. As for film itself, I have friends that have preferred Fugi film for many years.

Re:Canon (4, Insightful)

Artagel (114272) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178117)

Kodak was in the black and white picture printing business since the 1880s. It was in the color printing business by 1835. Hewlett-Packard was not founded until 1939, and it did not start in printers. Brother made its splash in dox-matrix printers in 1971. Kodak could have been far, far ahead of these companies with what we now consider printers. It would have moved in the direction of Xerox and gotten into the printer business. It just did not. It did not ask itself: who is going to cannibalize me, and how do I get in front? Change hit the accelerator pedal, and Kodak was left in the dust.

Re:Canon (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39177723)

It's time to realise that Abble's products are the biggest abomination these days. Just say NO to the dumb iAbble way!!

What the hell is an Abble? Whatever they are Apple will probably sue them for using iAbble as a trademark.

Re:Canon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39177911)

Seriously, it's not just you. Every time I see this guy's sig pop up in Slashdot, I think he's got a nasty sinus cold. Feeling okay, El Lobo? Want me to go get you a fresh box of tissues?

Re:Canon (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178327)

ever heard of kodak lenses?

me neither.

Re:Canon (2)

BetterSense (1398915) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178839)

You have it backward. The digital revolution was a boon to camera companies, not a blow. In the film era, cameras lasted decades. I'm still using my 1979 Olympus OM1, and I'm not sure it's ever even been overhauled. Digital introduced a market where pros and prosumers would be buying new cameras every year or two...especially in the beginning when technology was advancing fast.

nostalgic moments (1)

bigbangnet (1108411) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177621)

I can't remember the exact name of the kodak but i remember one that when you took a photo, the photo would come out of it instantly. Damn I miss that kodak. Mine broke ages ago so i had to throw it out. I should of repaired it instead.

Re:nostalgic moments (0)

MoldySpore (1280634) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177761)

Ironically enough, those cameras were made by Polaroid, not Kodak, and became known as "polaroids". Fujifilm also made some I believe.

Re:nostalgic moments (1)

Maltheus (248271) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178015)

Actually, I had a Kodak "poloroid" camera. They eventually got sued and had to discontinue them.

Re:nostalgic moments (1)

saintlupus (227599) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178141)

Those were called "Instamatics".

Re:nostalgic moments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39178109)

Here you go (Polaroid not Kodak) [ebay.com] . I'll leave it to you to find the film.

They Did react to the market! (3, Interesting)

drainbramage (588291) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177633)

But poorly.
I never saw a digital camera from Kodak that I would want to use, let alone purchase.
--
I had use of a few of their film cameras years ago, none were great.
I think they were able to sell the cameras cheaper than other companies because they owned the tech for the film and it's packaging format.
Other than the cheap point and shoot market I never saw Kodak compete well against any other camera company.
--
Loved the film though....
I bought my first digital camera (Pentax) thinking it would make a nice backup to my various film SLR's.
I was wrong, I never bought film again.

Re:They Did react to the market! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39178259)

Not in the last 18 years anyways.

Kodak's leadership position in digital photography was in a time when Digital Photography was a niche market. Newspaper photographers in the early and mid 1990s had digital cameras a long time before your average Joe had one, and back then, Kodak was BIG in this market.

Kodak should have had 20 years to see it coming. They helped usher in the technology that killed film. Sad really sad.

W

They OWNED the market! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39178701)

I never saw a digital camera from Kodak that I would want to use, let alone purchase.

I did, but I couldn't afford them. Kodak was positioned to dominate the digital SLR market long before it became a hot consumer trend. They bailed out right when digital photography started taking off.

They died because they didn't evolve (2)

IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177649)

They were arrogant, and their digital products reflected this. The DCS line of Pro cameras were hugely expensive with some pretty severe limitations, and their consumer line was a joke.
Rather than correcting that, they ignored the digital market and at the same time couldn't pick a new direction to go with their existing strengths and in the end, pissed it all away. Even now, they have no clue what they want to be, an ink and printer 'giant'? Give me a break.

Re:They died because they didn't evolve (1)

powerlord (28156) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177857)

Even now, they have no clue what they want to be, an ink and printer 'giant'? Give me a break.

They should invest in 3D scanning/printing, and market a reasonable 3D printer. There are several interesting technologies that require consumables, which seems to be what they were best at marketing.

Another perspective from a pro photographers view (5, Interesting)

yodleboy (982200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177659)

read this: A Photographer's Eulogy for Eastman Kodak [luminous-landscape.com] a couple of weeks ago and it's a good complement to TFA. Among other things, the author recalls a meeting with a Kodak product manager in the early 90's who's response to digital on the horizon was "How do we stop this thing?" He also notes this wasn't the first time Kodak's ego got in its own way. Anyway, an interesting read.

Kodak, Apple and Canabilization (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39177711)

Kodak and Apple took completely different tactics when it came to seeing their markets disappear, and they've had completely different results. Kodak tried to hang on to film photography as long as they could for fear of destroying their market, which in the end happened anyway. Apple saw the iPod's days as numbered due to phones, and created the iPhone. The iPhone is killing the iPod market, but Apple now has a new, more profitable market. The same thing may also happen with the Mac and the iPad.

Reasons (2)

necro81 (917438) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177743)

The reason cited in the summary, the shift in a camera being a specialized piece of equipment to a more prosaic electronic gadget, is probably one of the weakest. Serious protographers, film and digital, have always had, and continue to have, a very...uhhh...special relationship to their kit. Casual photographers always regarded cameras as just a do-hickie: a means to an end.

The big reason, the one that will be cited in every case study on disruptive technology for the next couple of decades, is that even though Kodak invented the digital camera, they couldn't get past the notion of it cannibalizing their film and development business until it was too late. Probably the #2 reason that will be cited is the consumer's shifting relationship to images: the physical artifact, the print, became much less important in comparison to an image that could be emailed to 10,000 people in an instant practically for free. Or to be able to carry around 10,000 images in your pocket. What people wanted pictures for, and where/when/how they wanted to view them, moved away from the physical artifact with alarming speed.

Absolutely. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39177879)

...But I'd argue that kit relationship stretches much farther than 'serious' photographers.

Hell, I'm a casual photographer. I've got a $600 DSLR and $1.5k worth of glass.

If I were a serious amateur, I'd be looking at $5-10k.

If I were a professional, several marriages and divorces would be far, far, far cheaper than my kit.

The person who buys a $40 point-and-shoot simply isn't a photographer, period. They're just some dork with a camera. And that's a damned poor market to base a photography company upon.

Re:Absolutely. (1)

imemyself (757318) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178033)

When the $40 point and shoot camera satisfies the needs of 98% of the market...then it's a bit different story.

Re:Absolutely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39178517)

When everybody and their idiot brother is making a $40 point and shoot camera, that 98% of the market gets small fast. It's a market of shrinking prices and ever-slimmer margins, where consumer preferences shift on a (sometimes literal) dime. It's a death spiral of quality that pushes anyone who can afford something better into the higher-end products. You don't get into that market to build a future for your brand, you do it to make a quick buck with low risk before jumping onto the next hot trend.

Re:Absolutely. (4, Insightful)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178453)

I think I just realized why we have this derisive and abusive notion that a person who uses a point-and-shoot cameras is "just some dork with a camera." We're conflating the art of photography with the practice of recording an event in a visual format using the science that allowed for both. Unfortunately, these two acts do not have separate words in English so I will coin one now...

Let us call the act of taking pictures to record events "picturing" instead and things become far more clear:
This lets us say: "Casual picturers always regarded cameras as just a do-hickie: a means to an end."

You would be an amateur photographer (yes, amateurs can still be called amateurs even when on a shoe-string budget) rather than a picturer. I am "only" (though to be derisive about such a thing is to misunderstand) a picturer. I have no interest in the art of photography but I would like to have a keepsake to help remember that time I climbed a mountain. However, to call me "some dork with a camera" is unfair to me. It is not my intent to make great art, only to have a memento of the past that I can show others.

So can we stop being pompous jerks about photography so that I don't get chided for having poor composition skills and not understanding what f-stops are for?

Nope.... (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39177745)

Kodak's demise started years ago. The company was very diversified back in the 80's and 90's. Chemicals, pharmaceuticals, copiers, all over the place. Then someone took a look at the margins, and decided that the margins the company was seeing on film needed to be the benchmark for the company. Margins on film are ridiculous. Nothing could touch them, and it was a dangerous drug. If Kodak had to make a decision between diverting some cash away from film and into an emerging technology, they choose film. Then, one by one, less profitable areas were sold or spun off. Over the years they used those sales (and layoffs) to offset the dwindling returns from the film manufacturing.

Kodak was in a perfect position to take a major bite out of the digital market early on. But right around the time they decided not to make traditional film cameras any more and switched to disposables, they also decided that the market was rich enough to support digital photography.

In the end they sold and cut as far as they could go. Meanwhile many of the other properties that Kodak shed along the way are doing very well, and would have provided tentpoles for the company to survive under.

Re:Nope.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39178733)

It was a Wall Street hit job. Kodak was the world's largest conglomerate in 1990 with Pharmaceuticals, Chemicals and Imaging but it had a load of debt and had a stagnating share price. In '93 the board and large shareholders hire George Fischer as a hatchet man to carve up the company which he does by selling off everything except the photo division. The division sales purge the debt from Kodak's books and the shares benefit in the short run giving management and institutional shareholders an exit. By '97 Fischer is out with a golden parachute.

But...Kodak invented digital cameras (5, Interesting)

MpVpRb (1423381) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177749)

From Wikipedia...

1975: Steven Sasson, then an electrical engineer at Kodak, invented the digital camera.

1976: The Bayer Pattern color filter array (CFA) was invented by Eastman Kodak researcher Bryce Bayer. The order in which dyes are placed on an image sensor photosite is still in use today. The basic technology is still the most commonly used of its kind to date.

They also produced the first digital SLRs

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kodak_DCS

And, their sensor division made extremely high quality sensors for scientific, industrial and consumer cameras.

Makes it even more ironic and baffling that they couldn't make it in the digital world.

Re:But...Kodak invented digital cameras (3, Interesting)

FaxeTheCat (1394763) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178797)

They also produced the first digital SLRs

... and on the camera house it says NIKON. So they produced a digital back end for a Nikon camera (I once had a print from a picture taken by it. The noise level was nothing short of amazing...).
Which may explain why Nikon is still big in cameras, while Kodak is not.

The REAL reason (-1, Flamebait)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177753)

The real reason behind Kodak's failure is not what this story says.

Just like the real reason [slashdot.org] behind oil prices in USD going up is not what most illiterate Keynesians and lying politicians say, it's inflation because of currency counterfeiting by the Fed, not anything else, prices are actually falling in real money.

Kodak would not have failed this way (or maybe at all), if it was not prevented from diversifying its business the way it wanted to in the nineties [nytimes.com] by the government. It was not a monopoly obviously, not any more a monopoly, than any so called 'monopoly' that gov't ever used its attack dogs on.

Re:The REAL reason (1)

GerryGilmore (663905) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178099)

You have a very, very strange definition of "diversifying its business". Last time I checked, being allowed to prevent competition in parts and service is hardly "diversifying", but - yes - anti-trust level of behavior that justifies bringing in those nasty, evil gummint boorocrats and their attack dogs to get a ruling from the Supreme Court that backed up the "attack dogs". If it was, say, Intel or MS, would you have the same opinion?

Re:The REAL reason (0)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178255)

My opinion about all government is the same, whatever the issue. All the anti-trust is nonsense, there are no natural monopolies, only government created ones. [google.com] The times that anti-trust was applied, it was always against an economy of scale, but never against a monopoly, because those companies didn't have government protecting them in the market, and they always had some form of competition by the time the lawsuit was in progress. Gov't uses antitrust to subsidise their friends, who pay them in order to get into that business by lowering their barriers to entry through artificial regulations, which hurt the market, never helps the actual clients of the companies that the gov't is engaged against.

Re:The REAL reason (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178275)

Oh, and in case of Intel and MS, it was all a standard shakedown, that's how government mafia operates - they want money, they'll shake you down for it.

Haha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39178397)

You must be really butthurt over the fact Ron Paul isn't going to win the nomination, aren't you?

Rant on, Randroid.

cause of death (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177769)

Other news-worthy stories:

Horseshoe manufacturers no longer in business. Why?
Ovaltine sales down. Are newer sports drinks to blame?
Crossbows seeing sudden resurgence: Could unreliability of easy to make ammo be to blame?

Re:cause of death (1)

MoldySpore (1280634) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177807)

But the real question is, Will Sales of Ice Boxes to Eskimos Finally Increase due to Climate Change?

Demise of Kodak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39177781)

So much for the Kodak moment.

Commodification (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39177805)

Kodak did reasonably well with digital photography -- hell, they invented the digital camera. Unfortunately it's a commodity business now, and Kodak never really differentiated itself, arrogantly thinking its name recognition alone would move cameras (and for a while it did, but that didn't last). Combine this with the fact that they've never been able to retool a product line in anything less than two decades. Whenever they do get a CEO with some vision, the board stabs him in the back, and he's usually out before his contract is even up.

Their current leadership has decided to keep their manufacturing line and kill digital cameras. That's like if Apple decided to stop selling Macs and only sell XServe racks.

It's about the film. (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177817)

What killed Kodak was the demise of the photographic consumables business. They had a 70% margin on film. The margin on photographic paper was probably even higher. And the developing business was profitable, too. All the consumables products had strong repeat business. Digital cameras offered none of that.

Kodak kept trying to somehow attach a consumable to digital photography. They tried PhotoCD, printer paper, and ink. They even tried selling flash memory cards. They bought Ofoto, an early picture-sharing site, and tried to make it a pay service. None of those offered the margins or market presence that film did, and none were notably successful.

Without a consumables business, Kodak had no competitive edge.

The end came when cameras became a component of phones. There was no longer a defined low-end photography business at all.

The Economist did it better (4, Informative)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177821)

This article struck me as pretty weak. The Economist has done a series of articles on Kodak and I think theirs were much more thorough and insightful.

Technological change: The last Kodak moment? [economist.com]

Kodak's woes: Out of focus [economist.com]

Kodak files for bankruptcy protection: Gone in a flash [economist.com]

I'm not sure how much of that is accessible to nonsubscribers...

Re:The Economist did it better (1)

FrootLoops (1817694) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178459)

I'm not sure how much of that is accessible to nonsubscribers...

All of it is accessible.

Medical Marijuana (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39177869)

I blame the states that legalized medical marijuana. Those dark film canisters used to be perfect for storing small amounts of weed, now everyone keeps them in clear jars, no need to hide whats in the container.

Kodak stoot for FILM, not cameras (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39177935)

Kodak mostly equalled photographic film, with some cheap cameras thrown in. The film side disappeared, leaving the not-so-stellar cameras to work on as a base. I think no-one would say that Kodak really 'got' equipment. They 'got' film.

Compared to Canon and Nikon, which took some time to pick up the digital electronics, but customers understood their passion for equipment and machinery. These companies survived, only now being overtaken by electronics companies such as Sony (hey, who needs a flapping mirror that also makes lens design more difficult).

Now the question is: why did Fuji survive? Probably because of faster adjustment to market changes.

They tried and failed (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177949)

Ultimately- they did try changing to digital- and as pointed out above, they pioneered digital. That's not why they failed- they failed because they produced a low quality product. Their name soon became synonymous with sub-quality cameras. They could no longer fall back on the reputation with film- because it was a completely different product.

Re:They tried and failed (1)

marky_boi (1427845) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178237)

Ever tried to get a Kodak camera fixed???
Pay $x(read alot) up front for a quote, they send you someone elses fixed camera!!!!
who know how it was looked after, what environment it lived in etc etc etc....... that was my last Kodak...
Bought a Nikon DSLR and never looked back

Re:They tried and failed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39178373)

Bullshit. In the late '90s, Kodak's name was on top-notch digital SLRs. They co-produced some of the best digital cameras around. Even their lesser cameras could hold their own (Apple's first digital cameras were rebadged Kodaks) Then, inexplicably, they decided that there was no future in digital SLRs or prosumer cameras and pulled out of those markets so they could focus on producing cheap garbage. They tried and succeeded, then CHOSE to fail.

no one knows (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39177975)

No one knows what destroyed Kodak. Maybe never will, because there are so many reasons and every little group wants to take sole credit for figuring it out, for their little group having the power to destroy a big company.

The techies think its digital cameras. After all, they destroyed all other former film giants; Oh wait, the didn't.

The photog-groupies think they failed technically or failed in marketing film beginning the slide (sorry for the pun) decades ago and they never really recovered from Fuji. Maybe if Fuji never existed then Kodak would have had the dough needed to transition to stay alive. This seems to be ... slightly overexaggerated.

The financial types think its because they were addicted hopelessly to high margin film and couldn't financially handle converting to a design, branding, and Chinese importing house. Based on previous bond and other financing structure, etc, better to continue 25% on declining sales, than lower percentage on increasing sales. This makes little sense, it hardly stopped HP from converting from "we make the worlds best electronic test instruments" to "we import junk from China and slap a nameplate and some marketing on it".

Journalists who convince people to read their customers marketing, according to the article, think the marketing failed and they didn't spend enough money on print ads convincing people Kodak = digital instead of film. As if people still read newspapers. I have a funny newspaper anecdote, my son was asking what Grandma's newspaper was; I thought about it for a few seconds and told him it's like yesterdays internet news, but printed out for people without the internet. Oh, OK.

Personally I think its a lot like the decline and fall of the roman empire No single simple answer other than the mental state of the entire world swung around to "I'm better off without these guys, than with these guys, so bye bye" Individually not interesting, multiplied across basically the entire population, that becomes interesting. Other than a bunch of now unemployed people, who really NEEDs Kodak? Why without them we won't have ... um...

They didn't do whatever Nintendo did (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39178013)

According to Wiki, Nintendo started out as a playing card company. I knew there was some Japanese company involved in computers or electronics that started out long before modern computing. I couldn't recall exactly which one it was. Perhaps there are several.

Anyway, whatever Nintendo did they could have done that to keep the company alive. I would submit that it doesn't matter.

The adaptability of the economy is more important than the adaptability of individual companies. Or perhaps there is more than one way to look at it. If the Japanese can run their economy by keeping companies alive and changing what they do, that's good. If the US can run its economy by killing off companies and creating new ones, that's good.

The Japanese way is probably easier on people who work for a particular company. The American way might be easier for people who want to start new companies. At least, that's the reputation--Japan, work for life (but not lately) America -- start something new (but it's getting harder).

Only time will tell which model is best. I'm glad we have multiple models for now, and not one big system. To Europe I say, "I told you so". The day I heard about the Euro I was like, "really? it's like people who already fight trying to solve their problems by getting married".

Their consumer cameras SUCKED though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39178017)

Perhaps not true in the professional and medical imaging markets, but even in the film era their consumer cameras and optics were the cheapest garbage available. Never once did I have a Kodak camera in my hand and think, "wow, this is a great peice of hardware". They failed in the consumer electronics approach to the market.

Their film was the cash cow and for the most part the standard bearer. Their cameras were not, they ceded the quality consumer camera business to others. Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Pentax, Minolta, etc.

It's very simple... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39178053)

Kodak made the vast majority of its revenue from photographic film (both retail and specialty) and the processing associated with said film (producing prints, copies, slides, etc). People using cameras would purchase 100's of dollars of film and film processing costs on a repeating basis.

Then digital cameras came out in the retail space. Many people were willing to tolerate the generally inferior optics and picture quality/stability (stability means how long does the printed photograph hold its image quality before fading) which were the primary playing fields for competition in the film industry. Very rapidly, people started buying a $200 camera may be once every 5 years instead of spending $100 every couple months on film because the public stopped valuing what they had traditionally valued with the film market.

It doesn't take a genius to do the math and see what that does to Kodak's revenue stream. Sure, they were selling cameras also. They were even selling digital cameras. They also tried to move into the scanner/printer/printer-ink market. But the majority of their revenue stream (from repeated sales of film and film processing) started drying up rapidly. Selling a $200 camera once every 5 years doesn't make up the ground that they lost due to lack of repeated film sales. Now their entire internal infrastructure, which was built out to support their film technologies and the associated revenue stream, is suddenly starving for cash. Nor is there any easy way to convert that existing infrastructure into producing an entirely different product (digital cameras instead of film), so not only is the infrastructure sucking up Kodak's cash, there is no easy way to reclaim the money that was sunk into that infrastructure and re-purpose it to the new market.

Imagine what would happen to companies like Gillette if a new product emerged which used lasers to shave one's face in a couple seconds. Suddenly all those people who were buying razors on a repeating basis would stop because they would buy the ronco-matic laser-shave. Could Gillette survive such a shift? Even if they got into that new market, they would be saddled with the infrastructure and sunk costs that they had from their old business model, and they would start getting sucked dry. The companies entering the new market would not be burdened with pre-existing sunk costs and could compete at price points that the established company could not.

It was simply a shift in the market place (possibly driven by the wide spread availability of a new technology at a low price point) which caused the incumbent companies to suffer and allowed relative new comers, or those who were more closely aligned with the new technology, to prosper.

Re:It's very simple... (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178251)

I wonder what if [something] be invented that would obsolete the laser printer. Could it be HP's demise?

Kodak made the vast majority of its revenue from photographic film (both retail and specialty) and the processing associated with said film (producing prints, copies, slides, etc).

Imagine what would happen to companies like Gillette if a new product emerged which used lasers to shave one's face in a couple seconds. Suddenly all those people who were buying razors on a repeating basis would stop because they would buy the ronco-matic laser-shave. Could Gillette survive such a shift? .

Legacy film production gonna die? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39178167)

Kodak, as far as i know, is one of the last producers of legacy film standards.
Is the death of Kodak dire news for film buffs?

-HasHie

Kodack digital was poorly thought out (2)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178229)

I would of kept purchasing kodak if they hadn't pulled the stupid bit with their docking stations being different for each line of cameras they sold. It's bad enough when many companies can't settle on a simple USB plug in but when you have to throw away your old docking station and printer because you changed to a different model line just so they can force you to rebuy stuff - that was too much for me.

I ran into that on a warranty repair. They no longer supported that model and sent me a replacement that had a different dock than the original - so while the camera was fixed/replaced - the entire setup I bought was rendered useless. When I called and complained they weren't helpful at all.

That's all it took to never buy kodak again.

Crappy consumer cameras (2)

formfeed (703859) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178353)

Yes they embraced digital, but not full heartedly. And they had a good brand name but did not capitalize on that with their cheaper cameras.

When digital cameras came out, people bought Kodak for brand quality. Over the years it just turned into cameras with a Kodak label slapped on. The attitude: We have to be in this market, but these aren't the real camera buyers.

I got an older 8MP non-Kodak, which allows for manual focus, manual stops, and exposure settings! The 7MP Kodak Easyshare has none of that, just "modes". Well, it at least has some bracketing, where it lets you take three pictures in a row. With the 14MP Kodak Easyshare that was gone as well, instead it has exciting new features like smile detection...

In the old analog world, that stuff used to be Polaroid's brand image, not Kodak's. Don't do Disney if you have a professional brand name. The same hardware could have provided an "expert-mode" and -even if most people wouldn't use it- been seen as a limited beginners version of a better camera.

Failed at Digital (1)

sunfly (1248694) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178455)

They failed to produce compelling digital products. It really is that simple. Kodak had an early lead on the consumer space based on brand alone, much later than most would have imagined, especially among female buyers. The software bundled with the cameras was equally bad.

Being very close to it (2)

guruevi (827432) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178495)

I know several people that worked at Kodak and I interviewed quite a few times with them. IMHO these are the problems:

- They didn't want to believe digital was going to take over the market. They believed analog was superior (which it was back in the day) but also that it wouldn't improve and people always would need analog copies. This is true to an extent but their developing process was horrendously overpriced and the stores that developed internally went with Fuji or any other competitor.

- Bad management. They had several layers of management and most of them were incompetent. There were entire divisions being ran without the knowledge of Kodak leadership. Duplicated efforts, bad building, bad quality assurance, several layers of customer service and technical service. Even their later printer divisions suffered from the old structure.

- Patent warfare. Instead of trying to compete they started using patents and contracts as an offensive measure which brings some cash in the short term but it burns out really quickly as their competitors could easily pay for the settlements and the limited settlements they did have (as many of their patents were invalid) could not account for the waste that is still going on to this day.

the iPhone was a gamble (0)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#39178501)

Apple was breaking into an entirely new, hugely competitive industry. Huge downside if they failed. I think they overlooked 3rd party apps in the beginning. Remember how we all jailbreaking them the first six months just to expose the UNIX shell and SDK? Stopping thinking of phones as communicators and as mobile computers changed the game.

The Film division is still profitable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39178689)

Kodak's Portra and Ektar films are amazing.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?