Facinating Read on Fujifilm

Discussion in 'Industry News' started by RattyMouse, Jul 25, 2012.

  1. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

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    http://the.me/interview-with-fujifi...omori-redefining-the-business-of-photography/

    Incredible reading this interview with Fujifilm's CEO. Just look at the contrast to how successful Fujifilm is compared to the bankrupt Kodak. I would LOOVE to hear Kodak's CEO respond to how well Fujifilm is doing compared to their failures.

    One can only read this and wonder, what might have been had Kodak had good people leading the team.
     
  2. RichardE

    RichardE Member

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    Certainly a very different approach to business....I think most of the success comes from an entreprenurial outlook, looking ahead, identifying changing needs and products, seeing opportunities, not falling into hubris or the "we're the best, no one can touch us" attitude, not the "us too" approach to existing product, and so on. Maybe a basic mind set, not perhaps always learnable at business school or otherwise, and certainly a long way from "let's tick the right little boxes, then we don't have to think too much!"

    I've seen both types of business during my years in my own small actitivities.
     
  3. krevad

    krevad Member

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    Very interesting interview. I believe that one mistake that too often is made in regards to the photographic industry is that Kodak management was (and still is) incompetent. The problem is that it is very hard to survive disruptive forces, as Kodak suffered when photography when from silver to digital. Many great companies have died in the wake of all sorts of technology shifts.

    I believe that Kodak did its best, but when the odds are against you, failure is not just an option, its the most likely scenario which takes skill, agility and luck to avoid. Big corporations are usually not very agile, not only due to its size, but also due to its internal competences. Kodak was good at making chemicals and film, distributing it to almost every street corner around the world and then getting the film developed and printed. When digital happened, suddenly that hard earned world-class competence of the company and a vast majority of its employees got sidetracked from the future.

    Fujifilm seems to be an exception in the film making business having survived the disruptive shock of digital photography, but even Fuji had a bumpy ride to its state today. While the company still thrives, many people lost their jobs in the process and its share price is 70% down (link) from the beginning of the 2000:s.

    Three great reads:
    The Economist, How Fujifilm survived http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2012/01/how-fujifilm-survived
    The Economist, The last Kodak moment?, http://www.economist.com/node/21542796
    Sandström, Disruptive Innovation, Kodak and digital imaging http://www.slideshare.net/Christiansandstrom/kodak-destruction
     
  4. timparkin

    timparkin Member

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    And yet Fujifilm seem intent on dumping LF film whereas Kodak are doing there best to keep things going...
     
  5. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Very, very interesting indeed.
    Kodak are still very much in the red. I wouldn't be throwing my hat in the air that a lot of film will be coming out of there in the future.
     
  6. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

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    Tim, LF is experiencing pressure from all over, not just Fujifilm. Kodak doesn't cut normal runs of 8x10 any longer, and that's because of the market. So although Fujifilm has dropped Velvia 50 in LF, at least Provia and Velvia 100 are still available, and in 8x10. So I wouldn't say that they're just throwing LF to the wolves, let alone the chihuahuas.

    Yeah, it was a good article, I just wish that their president was holding one of their excellent film cameras. Ah, well.
     
  7. Prof_Pixel

    Prof_Pixel Member

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    An interesting article, but I didn't see it as a solid commitment to film. In the past, companies in Japan have relied on a solid base of domestic customers to keep them going; I'm not sure how solid the film market is in Japan right now.

    He said "today we have six business areas in which we can grow strongly: Medical Systems, Graphic Systems, Optical Devices, Office Communications, Digital Imaging and Functional Materials. All these areas are in one way or the other connected with film technology"

    I guess I could say Kodak has been saying more or less he same stuff over the last 20 years.
     
  8. hdeyong

    hdeyong Member

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    This is typical Japanese business sense. Honda uses their expertise to make everything from cars to outboard motors, motorcycles, generators and lawn mowers. Last year, GM even made TV commercials poking fun at the fact that Honda made lawn mowers. You didn't see Honda producing commercials making fun of the fact that GM went to the American and Canadian governments, hat in hand, begging to be saved.
    Kodak, GM, Bell and Howell, I think I see a pattern.
    I use and support Ilford, because they are probably our future.
     
  9. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    you forgot asimo, s/he's been around for a long time
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3C5sc8b3xM
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZngYDDDfW4&feature=related
     
  10. timparkin

    timparkin Member

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    Yes but there are strong rumours that Fuji want out of E6 in the next few years. At least Kodak are trying to keep their film production alive by making custom runs. I'd rather be able to order it occasionally than not order it at all. It did seem that in the interview Mr President was quite dismissive of film, purposely downplaying it. It would be good if they said "This is where we came from, this is our brand, this is a world heritage product* - we'll do our damndest to keep it alive where possible" as for world heritage product, it's the only directly viewable colour film produced that is likely never to be made again should Fuji stop. The small effort to make a knowledge/equipment transfer to China/Ilford/Whoever would be peanuts in comparison with their turnover.

    Tim
     
  11. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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  12. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    yeah, Kodak's doin great. Try to buy slide film in any size, or 8x10 tmy any time of year for less than $7/sheet. I just can't justify it. It'd be another story if someone was paying me to shoot.

    now back to the thread at hand.
     
  13. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

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    You know, Fujifilm's CEO DID say exactly what you want. Not recently, but I believe it was when they released their latest medium format film camera, the GF670. I read an interview with the CEO that said something like, "we will continue to make photographic film as long as a single person is shooting it". Something like that. He was making a firm commitment to film shooting as the GF670 camera was making waves.

    I'll try to see if I can pull that quote out of the net somewhere. Been a long time since I saw it.
     
  14. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

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    Kodak doesn't make custom runs. They make custom cuttings from master rolls. If they made custom runs, then somebody could stump up a few million for a run of Kodachrome or E6. But they won't ever do that again, not unless they're bought out by somebody freakin' rich who just happens to seriously love film. I've never heard of any psycho-rich businessman like that.

    Moving film production from one plant to another is an investment of millions, not just emailing the recipe. It's not a paltry thing. It was a major problem for Kodak to do this within their own company. There are so many secret/proprietary chemicals, processes, and formulas that it's just not going to happen. If Fuji E6 goes bye-bye, nobody is going to pick up the pieces. There's just not enough of a market for any investment to be recovered. Fuji couldn't do it for a B&W emulsion. Fuji originally made 35mm movie film, and I'm sure that they'll keep making roll film. However, I have doubts as to whether they will be making sheet film as the market winds down.

    Here's some quotes from the article:
    Our core competence lies in research, development and technology. We
    come from the film business, and we are a film company.

    The movie business is our root, and this will remain so. But we
    redefined the business. In times of massive digital photography the
    classic film almost disappeared from the market. Just look what
    happened to our former competitors.

    Well, the business of photographic films is very complex and very
    complicated. Just look what techniques and technology are necessary to
    produce film. Film has over a dozen layers of paint applied to a
    substrate. Not one layer is allowed to pass into the other. We're
    talking about precision work with about a hundred highly functional
    materials. That's a major technical achievement. It takes experience,
    methods and patents, which can then be used beyond the photographic
    film.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2012
  15. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Paul Allen.

    Ever been to his aircraft hanger at Paine Field? Those incredibly detailed restorations all have drip pans under them and are ready to fly every summer weekend. To bad he doesn't like film as much as B-25s (Flying Heritage Collection), NFL football (Seahawks), NBA basketball (Trail Blazers), and Jimi Hendrix (EMP). THAT all adds up to real money in my book. I also thought I read somewhere that he plays a pretty serviceable guitar.

    Rumor has it he's a pretty decent fellow, too. Don't know if he owns any film cameras.

    Maybe we should ask??

    :tongue:

    Ken
     
  16. M.A.Longmore

    M.A.Longmore Subscriber

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    Maybe " We " Should Send Him An Honorary APUG Membership, And And SRT-202 With A 58mm f 1.2 Attached !

    I'm Just Saying ...

    Ron
    .
     
  17. Rudeofus

    Rudeofus Subscriber

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    Ouch ...
     
  18. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Two interesting things here.

    If you consider all Kodak production and compare it to Fuji, (including motion picture) then Kodak far outproduces Fuji. BUT, Fuji has much better marketing and distribution, as Kodak seems to have forsaken all of that. See Bob Shanebrook's book for pictures of the huge pallets of film going out the door! Well, it is down a lot, but still going out the door.

    And, Kodak is willing to make custom runs if paid for. The problem is not making Kodachrome, it is getting a process for it going. That will double the price.

    And then too... Ever hear of Japan Incorporated? The Japanese industry is often supported by the government just like the recent Obama subsidies. Imagine what would happen to EK if the government revived them by giving them an infusion of a few billion dollars.

    PE
     
  19. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

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    Maybe not so much anymore.
    Japan Inc.’s Year of Disgrace
    The agony of Japan Inc.
    Naoto Kan and the End of 'Japan Inc.'
    How Organized Crime Infested Japan Inc. - TIME (Olympus scandal)

    Japan seems to be hurting very hard due to Japan, Inc.

    Politicians follow the money. They throw money at things that "cannot fail" but should (banks, insurance firms), and take money away from things that shouldn't fail (science, like the Texas particle accelerator). We won't see any government help for Kodak. But if Fujifilm was in dire straits like Kodak, I'm not sure that the Japanese government would prop them up. The output is small, and I'm not sure it would be seen as one of those, ah, what is it, national treasures? Not that the US treasures much (except as noted above), but I'm not sure that one little building producing 35mm would be kept in business by Japanese government subsidy.
     
  20. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Brian;

    All of what you have posted is correct, but don't you think that there has been some sort of "protection" before those events? Even protective trade agreements will change the balance. If the US is hostile to exports but friendly to foreign imports, and if the opposite were true, then this would illustrate the problem.

    AAMOF, Japan has been supporting the photo industry as one of their prime markets and have established a cabinet ministry for photography. They have several universities devoted to photographic science and engineering. Many Fuji and Konica engineers came from these schools and have PhD degrees. No university in the US offers such a degree.

    So, there are many levels of support.

    PE
     
  21. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

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    PE, protection *before* the events is a no-brainer. "Japan, Inc." didn't get that moniker without blatant protectionism being evident. Sure, government, industry, and banks were all together as a team. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case in the US. I look at all of it as "staying hungry." (Like the Twisted Sister album cover.) Large industry, including banks and US government and "educational" institutions, became complacent. Many still are complacent. Right now, I'm reading "The Art of Non-Conformity," by Chris Guillebeau. Interesting book, and the author takes aim at mediocrity. The US went from excellence to mediocrity, and that's what's killing our nation now.

    So: how to move film foward? It would take investment, and not with government help. This isn't any kind of Kickstarter thing, either. The Kodak film division would have to be bought out, and that would take leverage. Hmmm, actually, with Kodak stock so far in the tank, how much stock would be needed to become a major member on the board and kick out the idiots? Maybe that should be a Kickstarter project.
     
  22. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Last I looked, the stock was in the region of $0.55 or thereabouts.

    So 1M$ would buy you almost 2M shares.

    And, protectionism is still apparently going on in Japan. And the schools are still cranking out graduates. Their opinion is that their BS program is better than our MS program in photographic science and engineering. As for mediocrity, I think we have fallen below that line and are worse.

    PE