Thursday, January 19, 2012

No more Kodak Moment

Awhile ago I wrote about the demise of Kodachrome. Actually it was in December of 2010, when Kodak announce they would no longer make or process any of their film.

Today they announced that they are filing for bankruptcy. I now wonder how long it will be before some other company buys them out or if they will just shut their doors.

Companies fail all the time, but you wouldn't expect a company like Kodak that has been around for over a hundred years to call it quits. Kodak folding it's tent is just another one of the many companies that have gone away because of technology. General Motors, Chrysler, Circuit City, Lehman Brothers, Blockbuster and now Kodak.
Kodak was recognized all over the world as the benchmark for most things to do with photography.

I was one of Kodak's customers for many years. Buying film, chemicals, paper and cameras and even big jumbo 30X40 inch wall prints and printed calendars.

As with many fading giants, this did not happen overnight. It took years of poor management decisions and the belief that they were too big to fail. It was a slow process, as technology passed them over, they could have been in the forefront but for some reason failed to do so.

In fact Kodak had digital technology which they invented in the 1970's, but sat on the technology thinking that it would impact it's film business......guess what it did.

In the meantime companies like Fuji where undermining their customer base with new films, cheaper prices and newer user technologies. By the year 2000 the digital camera were affordable and commonplace and film was on it's way out.

Now they are trying to pump up their bottom line with cheap printers and cheap ink, some ancillary products along with selling a lot of their proprietary patents just to keep their head above water.
Kodak shed it's workforce from 70,000 to less than 20,000 worldwide. The film business was a thing of the past and they just didn't respond fast enough to warrant the heave overhead.
I can remember when there were only a few camera companies to choose from.
It was either Kodak or Argus, unless you had lots of money and bought German or Japanese cameras, Kodak was it.
Their market share was given away to companies like Sony, Nikon and Canon took away most of the market share and in the last few years Chinese products which are marketed under various other labels like Panasonic, Casio, Pentax, Fuji and Olympus all took a bite of what could have been Kodak's market.
So now if you look at the history of technology, you can see that there is going to be a downward demand for stand alone cameras. While digital cameras now dominate consumer photography, they're also low margin products which will be replace in a few years. I myself notice that I grab by Panasonic pocket camera fewer and fewer times simply because the camera on my Iphone does a pretty decent job of snapping pictures.
In the next few years you will see more people using the smart phones, tables and other devises that have built in cameras simply because of convenience and practicability.

It's sad to see something that was so part of Americana fade away, just another lesson in having to keep up with the times and re-invent ones self.........

Adios Kodak, thanks for the memories.


Anonymous said...

Hola Tancho,
It is sad. It is kind of like when digital music replaced vinyl and tube fired amplifiers.
be well

Steve Cotton said...

I was an amateur photographer in grade school. To this day, I am convinced I lost a portion of my memory while using Kodak chemicals. And enjoyed every minute. The problem is that I cannot remember which part of my memory I lost. ;}

JerryL said...

Ahhh, the smell of acetic acid in the morning. I remember the smell even today.

Felipe Zapata said...

Blockbuster has not gone away, at least in Mexico.

Tancho said...

Anthony, it is sad, but I guess we have to go with the flow or pay more for the old things like film, vinyl records and replacement tubes.....

Steve, you will never remember the portion you lost, so in essence you come out on top.

Felipe, I am sure Blockbuster and all the pirate video people in Mexico will be around for awhile, since the broadband coverage for people to stream video is so limited. But it will come....