KODAK: DID YOU MAKE THE WRONG MOVE A DOZEN YEARS AGO?
Interesting to think what would have happened with the company if it had been steadfast and resolute in its support for analog and largely rejected digital. I am the furthest from a geek but I never felt that Kodak was really ready (or even acclimated) towards digital. If, instead, Kodak had continued improving analog and re-invigorated darkroom (through extensive advertising), I wonder if they would not be in quite the dire straits they are in now. They ARE, as I speak, still improving color film and Hollywood is far from digital projection worldwide, let alone within the USA.
Pehaps I am being overly naive here but wouldn't we be heralding the company now if they actually surpassed Freestyle Photo in sales by selling DIRECTLY to the public? That would have allowed greater flexibility with product introduction and an ability to react more quickly to changes in public demand. Witness the HOLGA and pinhole camera which CERTAINLY do NOTHING to improve technical quality. They became a genre, a sexy genre, that actually caught on. There really ARE a lot of analog users worldwide. And I have witnessed many very young folks who express a fascination for the whole concept of silver imaging. A 'new' genre, built upon the old, just might have caught on.
Sometimes old technologies, with all the bugs ironed out, can not only supplement the new ones but also provide an extra dimension for expression. Make that expression uninhibited, available, legitimate, and competitive. - David Lyga
Last edited by David Lyga; 10-06-2011 at 03:45 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I'm not so sure. Kodak had the right idea--diversify out of a violently contracting market--the execution was just bad. For Kodak to have based its future on film--it would have had to accept that the company would contract as fast as the market. The Board and shareholders would have immediately gotten rid of the management--it couldn't have happened. The only real hope for the film division is that Kodak would successfully diversify into other profitable areas. They weren't going to spin off or sell the film division it was (and still is) making money--supporting the other cost centers. Kodak was built to be a behemoth--they don't do small.
analog technology isn't fast and cheap enough for the majority of consumers. they want mediocre results immediately and don't think to care about the long term costs.
I know what I want but I just don't know how to go about gettin' it.-Hendrix
But, you know, in certain aspects they COULD have become 'small'. They could have focused upon film, paper, chemicals and other products as they became feasible. I placed this post to see if my wishful thinking would be fairly decaimed, or would there actually be a real thought here present in what I said. I know that the odds are against what I said but I really do wonder if they had to be, as you correctly say Barry, a 'behemoth' forever. Indeed, they did not seem capable of even thinking that they could be otherwise and, instead, largely committed suicide just like their founder did. Harsh words but maybe there is a thought here.
In more recent years they seemed to get further and further from the public. I remember in the 80s calling them and actually talking, at length, to a real chemist who did not try to rush me. Then, later you would call a person (20 something) who would look up (on the compuer) what you needed to know and there was no ability to read between lines or provide the insight like that chemist did. The feeling of disengagement was lost with the new management and, more importantly, that new management did not know HOW lost because they were so obsessed with that 'bottom line'. - David Lyga
NO ONE can deny the immediacy of digital. That is fact come to fruition. But, why are disposible cameras still selling well?
There are other concerns other than speed. For NON darkroom users the digital is probably the best way to go because that (potential) 'weak link' in the chain cannot be avoided. But do YOU want to give up analog? Why not? The most important answer to that question just might be that you cannot FULLY impart a full answer to the question because the full answer contains a pert that defies strict logic.
There is a subliminal portion to that answer that, although hidden or at least attenuated, remains very PERSONAL to you. It is almost like a hidden treasure that you do not want to ever leave you. You can SEE the negative and feel it. Some (most?) might disagree. but that does count for something. - David Lyga
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Personally, I think Kodak made the wrong decision about 13 years ago. If Kodak came out with a $100-150 digital camera instead of APS, they would have cornered the market for digital cameras and would still be relevant today. Instead, they went too long trying to hang on to film on the consumer side of things, and that ended up all but eliminating their share of the market that made them successful. I think they should have stepped to consumer demand with digital, all the while pushing film as the "professional" choice. That way, they couldn't say they were ditching film, while all the while maintaining their presence in the consumer market.
"Panic not my child, the Great Yellow Father has your hand"--Larry Dressler
I don't know why they went after the printing market. The future lies in digitally sharing pictures. Artists will want to print their pictures, but consumers don't, so they went after the wrong digital segment.
In my limited way of thinking, I think that Kodak should have downsized their film operations by investing in more smaller machines when they built their new coating plant about a dozen years ago. They could be more flexible and responsive to market needs and make smaller master rolls to maintain products that completed their offering.
And side by side with that employ a team of really skilled marketing people, using their brains in researching what the general public will actually do with their pictures.
"Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank
"Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh
I felt then and feel now that APS was a bete noir. (The Instamatic in the 60s and 70s was a different matter.) Kodak never catered to people who WANTED to get professional results other than through their film/paper/chemicals.
In Europe, even the former USSR, 'cheap' cameras were made with the potential of high quality results even though attributes were strictly limited: ZENIT can compete with LEICA in certain aspects. HAWKEYE, BROWNIE, APS cannot compete with LEICA in ANY aspects!
Kodak film, paper, chemicals, of course were a different story, but Kodak's whole approach to professionalism largely stopped with the non-camera accessories. Their quality control is the envy of industry and I would not be surprised if Japan (even) learned a thing or two from them on this matter. Nobody tops them on this. And it is a shame to see the purpose of all this industrial perfection now be dying. - David Lyga
Kodak never had the "Steve Jobs" they needed--a visionary who could transition their strengths and *create* new markets. When Jobs returned to the ailing Apple he moved Apple from a computer company to a technology company. Kodak was in a very tough position, but they could have made a similar transition instead of moving into other established markets.
Kodak has a long history of backing the wrong horse. Just look at all their consumer grade cameras. Then there was the instant film fiasco(Polaroid won, Kodak had to pay through the nose). Digital imaging was invented at Kodak, why wouldn't they back it and promote the bejesus outta it. They are just a bunch of bumbling fools muddling along paying themselves the big bucks and laying off the folks that matter. They are not even close to being visionary.
BTW: the big kid in my avatar is my hero, my son, who proudly serves us in the Navy. "SALUTE"