What an amazing fall from grace. Kodak, the company that dominated the photography industry for decades has just filed for bankruptcy. A chapter 11 filing doesn’t mean that Kodak will disappear, but it’s an admission things have gone horribly wrong for the company. The idea is to take some time off form the debt collectors while they dramatically restructure the business in a last ditch attempt to save the brand.
Maybe they survive and maybe they don’t but what is clear is that this will go down in history of what not to do when innovation strikes your industry. The revolution of digital photography meant that Kodak’s existing cash cow was about to go away. A technology that took the cost of processing from tens of dollars to zero overnight. It also took the production time for developing from a few days to instant.
Digital photography was better in pretty much every way, so what did the market leader do? They chose to bury their head in the sand and ignore it and have now paid the consequences. Trying to hold onto the massive premiums of the old business model, they ignored technology, a decision that would ultimately spell their downfall.
Interestingly the first digital camera I purchased was a Kodak DX4900, a 4 Megapixel, $900 camera in 2002. Since then I never looked back and have now taken 56,000 photos with more than 10 different cameras. The DSLR market today is dominated by Canon, Nikon and Sony, with Kodak nowhere to be seen. The lesson here is not to ignore innovation.
There’s a saying that if your industry hasn’t been hit by the technology revolution, it’s next.
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