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batwister
08-23-2012, 04:48 AM
Opinions...

2) Kodak abandoned film advertising and promotion. Adding fuel to the perception that, "no one makes (or uses) film any more".




I still don't understand this, never will.

Monophoto
08-23-2012, 07:07 AM
In most MBA programs, they teach a course with a title something like "Destroy Your Own Business". The point of this course is to teach the bright young business leaders about the need to be sensitive to trends that jeopardize their core businesses. The basic idea is that business leaders should be constantly looking for new business opportunities that represent significant threats, and should invest in those businesses.

I think the problem is that the geniuses at Kodak slept late on the day that their professor gave the lecture about making sure that the new business includes a role for your company.

Yes, Kodak invented digital photography, but they naively assumed that because they were the industry leader in conventional photography, that role would automatically fall to them when the market shifted to digital. That was a monumentally bad assumption.

Simon R Galley
08-23-2012, 08:14 AM
Dear Pro-Pixel...

Todays spooky fact.......

Everyone at ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology Limited knows well the story of Knut... and we have a very nice mosaic in our local town of Knutsford to celebrate the fact...as our town is named after Knut.

Simon ILFORD photo / HARMAN technology Limited :

Ian Grant
08-23-2012, 08:48 AM
Many of use in Kodak in the '80s and early '90s understood the transition that was coming. Several of Kodak's early digital products (RFS-2035, Premiere Image Enhancement System, Prism, and Photo CD for example) were hybrid products, meant to ease the transition into digital.

Film was (and still is) a very mature product that has a manufacturing process that has been perfected over many years and had (has) a high profit margin. The profit margins on equipment were never good and digital cameras and equipment looked to have low profit margins as well.

Kodak lacked the managers with imaging industry vision to figure out how to make the transition work (APS was a dreadful failure) and figure out what the new Kodak was going to look like. Note, this required a willingness to give up some short term profit to gain future profit and the managers pay incentive plans made that unlikely.


A very good insiders view point, add to that Matt King's comments about distribution and that's about right.

As an example of how little the sales and marketing departments at Kodak understand their product Kodak in the UK were sill trying to sell K64 to dealers after Dwayne's had ceased processing Kodachrome.

A major issue with Kodak films is that in many countries distribution of consumer colour films and minilab consumables has been quite good but with the loss of B&W papers distribution of B&W papers and chemistry became poor.

The advantage Ilford has is they sell their own products, film, paper & chemistry, and distribute for Paterson so a slaes team has more to sell a retail outlet.

Kodak's major disadvantage now is they sell to Office equipment suppliers/computer stores for their Digital consumer printers, minilabs etc, but if a minilab's using Fuji/Agaf etc materials then there's nothing they can sell them. They have very little to sell to an average camera store any longer.

Kodak still have good people in the coating division but the coporate structure lets them down badly.

Ian

PKM-25
08-23-2012, 11:03 AM
I wonder how much business Kodak has lost to people blabbering on the Internet instead of taking pictures......I bet it is a ton.

Ken Nadvornick
08-23-2012, 11:20 AM
For a lot of people, these threads are like therapy sessions.

Kodak's situation has been beyond its film customers control at any level for a long time now. It's fate is out of our hands. No matter how much or how little film we purchase, it won't matter. The forces buffeting Kodak are huge and far beyond us at this point. It's like seeing a massive storm throw a cargo ship up onto the rocks and beat it to pieces. All you can do is cringe, cover your face, and watch between your fingers. But you can't stop the storm. Or save the ship.

Ken

Ian Grant
08-23-2012, 11:38 AM
I wonder how much business Kodak has lost to people blabbering on the Internet instead of taking pictures......I bet it is a ton.

Some of us have been extrememely frustrated trying to get Kodak films, in my case Tmax 100. For the past 6 years I've had to fly with all the films I thought I'd use before my next UK visit home when I run out I have to replace locally, postage from abroad has proved unreliable (50% of packages not arriving) or just not possible when your visiting countries for the first time.

So I speak from first hand experience of finding it near impossible to buy the Tmax 100 & 400 films I required in Turkey, Chile, Peru etc. I've shot Tmax since it was released and after APX100 was discontinued in sheet film it became my only B&W film. I've found Ilford films everywhere and more surprisingly Foma so I had no real option other than switch.

It's no secret that when Kodak subcontracted distribution around the world they lost a lot of business. In the UK Sangers took over distribution and ended up going bankrupt, the new distributors are the ex-employees from the Kodak distribution department and they know what they are doing and are efficient.

The bottom line is if I walk into my nearest UK photo-store there's no Kodak products (analog or digital), but there are Ilford & Fuji.

Ian

wblynch
08-23-2012, 12:29 PM
...Since you don't like what the words really mean, but you have a "feeling", then you want us to change the the whole damned English language to fit your "feeling". It's exactly this kind of mutton headed thinking that got us into this predicament....

Hey Dude, I said at the beginning it was my opinion.

It's not thinking that got us here. It's an orchestrated destruction, based on lies and manipulation that's been occurring since 1981.

I should add that personally my career and finances have been great. I have survived the turmoil based on skill, talent and awareness of my field and the ability to adapt.

I find myself in the top 4% of earners in America.

That does not mean I can't understand or care about the struggles of others.

BrianShaw
08-23-2012, 12:53 PM
I wonder how much business Kodak has lost to people blabbering on the Internet instead of taking pictures......I bet it is a ton.

That is a business loss that is certainly not unique to Kodak!

pgtips
08-27-2012, 02:28 PM
I'd just like to say thanks to everyone who's responded to my questions about the decline of Kodak, obviously this site isn't the only source I've used for my research (I've spent a lot of time trawling through the various retrospective reports about the company written since January as well as interviewing the owner of my local photography shop amongst other things) but APUG came to mind (even though I admit it had been a long time since I logged on :( ) as a good place to get lot of expertise and opinions all at once, and it hasn't let me down. Thanks! :)
PS; This has reminded me just what a usefull community APUG is, I'll try to log on more often from now on :)

SilverGlow
08-28-2012, 06:38 PM
In short, Kodak got into this mess because it made decisions from it's "heart" instead of it's "head".

It lost objectivity, and succumbed to fantasy.

It ignored market forces.

It lost it's edge with digital technology.

It tried to be all things analoge and digital.

I would guess that there was too much Group-Think there and not enough leadership from the top.

Perhaps one can add to the list arrogance, paralysis from analysis too.

Photo Engineer
08-28-2012, 10:06 PM
There are only about 3 or 4 members of APUG who were at Kodak during this era. To state what was going on implies that you were there. You just don't know any more than any of us really do.

PE

Prof_Pixel
08-28-2012, 10:13 PM
Look at Fujifilm. They are a survivor. How did they survive? They got into totally different businesses. Medical devices, flat panel coatings, pharmaceuticals, personal care products, office machines, industrial scanners, and information management. Fujifilm only survived by shrinking their film business, which is now at 1% of its former size.

Kodak was a player in most of those areas you mentioned, but sold those business units off over the last 25 years.

kb3lms
08-28-2012, 10:29 PM
I was one of those 3 or 4 at Kodak in the 80's. It was a great place to work and they were very, very good to me. Yes, the top level management was completely clueless (starting about 3 levels up from where I was as an engineer in the corporate hierarchy) but whatever Kodak may or may not be, I can't bitch about them as an employer at that time. Not all at Kodak was stupid, not at all, and I worked with a lot of first class people who damn well knew what they were doing.

People should really stick with what you really know. Don't shoot from the hip and don't guess at what you don't know. End of lecture.


Look at Fujifilm. They are a survivor. How did they survive? They got into totally different businesses. Medical devices, flat panel coatings, pharmaceuticals, personal care products, office machines, industrial scanners, and information management. Fujifilm only survived by shrinking their film business, which is now at 1% of its former size.

Kodak was, and in some cases may still be, in each and every one of these businesses with outstanding products. They couldn't market them for SH%$ but that goes to the issues at 343 State Street. In many cases they bailed out before the market actually took off. An example would be 8mm video. EK practically invented it and were in and out of the market before Sony and the other players that really capitalized on it showed up. Pharmaceuticals were another case of not waiting for the plan to come together. Of course, the Sterling/Winthrop mess was Whitmore's disastrous legacy. (Since I see that he has passed in 2004 I will keep my personal comments about the man out of my ramble.)

In some cases EK's products were just before their time. In most cases it was seriously screwed up top-level management that couldn't move anything if it wasn't film.

So I suppose I still have some loyalty to my long ago employer.

kb3lms
08-28-2012, 10:55 PM
If you really want a little insight at some of the things that were happening and some of the thinking in the late 80's and early 90's at Kodak and what helped to drive them to where they are today, read this 1989 article from The New York Times. I remember this announcement like it was yesterday. It concerns when the top-level management "holy triumverate" of Whitmore, Samper and Chandler were ousted by the board of directors and replaced by just Whitmore as CEO, president and grand poobah.

http://www.nytimes.com/1989/12/09/business/click-up-down-and-out-at-kodak.html?pagewanted=2&src=pm

As you can see from the article, Mr. Whitmore was most concerned with reining in all that nasty product development in the name of "core strengths and values" and squeezing everything possible out of Kodak Film. And Wall Street was demanding just that. Chandler and Samper, IMHO and others may not agree, were busy trying to architect future lines of business for the company. They knew the "digital demise" was coming. They weren't completely stupid as individuals. I met Mr. Chandler and asked that very question of him regarding how Kodak was planning to deal with the obvious development of digital imaging. However, the investors would have none of that and their insistence has come back to haunt them today. Where would Kodak be if Whitmore hadn't caved to Wall Street? We'll never know, of course, but what we do know is that all the cost cutting and squeezing every damn dime possible out of those yellow boxes didn't prove a thing in the end.

In my opinion, the moment in time documented in this news article is the notable starting point when everything went wrong for Kodak.

kb3lms
08-28-2012, 11:16 PM
Sorry if I came off a bit harsh above. This film division selling thing has touched a nerve with me. (Read that posting again about the cathartic thing!) Kodak is being thrown around here in 20/20 hindsight as a big, bumbling, corporate, conglomerate of dolts that had no idea what they were doing and that just isn't always the case. There were/are serious issues at 343 State Street and that is a fact. But there were many, many people outside of KO that poured their heart and soul into making things go right at EK. Most of those people are gone now, either just from EK or in many cases from this Earth, and that should be remembered as well.

Signing off, now.

benjiboy
08-29-2012, 07:49 AM
It's very easy for people to pontificate and have opinions on subjects that don't have access to the full fact on, if I knew the correct answer to why Kodak finished up in it's current state I would be teaching economics at one of the Worlds top university s,not sitting here worrying how I'm going to pay the coming winters utility bills.

wblynch
08-29-2012, 09:17 AM
It ended up where it did precisely due to what is taught at the Worlds top universities.

Vampire Economics.

Prof_Pixel
08-29-2012, 10:06 AM
It was a great place to work and they were very, very good to me. Yes, the top level management was completely clueless (starting about 3 levels up from where I was as an engineer in the corporate hierarchy) but whatever Kodak may or may not be, I can't bitch about them as an employer at that time. Not all at Kodak was stupid, not at all, and I worked with a lot of first class people who damn well knew what they were doing.

It was a great place to work and there were lots of great people!

SilverGlow
08-29-2012, 10:27 AM
It's very easy for people to pontificate and have opinions on subjects that don't have access to the full fact on, if I knew the correct answer to why Kodak finished up in it's current state I would be teaching economics at one of the Worlds top university s,not sitting here worrying how I'm going to pay the coming winters utility bills.

There is some truth to what you wrote, and who better then PE and other alumni know better?

However, being on the outside looking in, using one's eyes, ears, reading abilities, and looking at Kodak's history, and current demise, one steps back and sees all this as Self-Evident. And apply one's own business experiences, seeing this same type of thing happen many times before, one gets a good feel for what really happened. No, not in details, but surely at a birds eye view.

In other words, one does not necessarily have to be an insider to get a good feel for why Kodak hit the skids.