The older readers out there were probably around when Kodak was a common name in digital imaging. Known fully as The Eastman Kodak Company is an American technology company that produces camera-related products with its historic basis on photography. The company is headquartered in Rochester, New York, and is incorporated in New Jersey. Kodak provides packaging, functional printing, graphic communications, and professional services for businesses around the world. Its main business segments are Print Systems, Enterprise Inkjet Systems, Micro 3D Printing and Packaging, Software and Solutions, and Consumer and Film. It is best known for photographic film products. The company was quite large until its business decline and the eventual bankruptcy in 2012.
This article will guide you through Kodak’s success and decline along with some of its notable decisions and products. Keep reading!
The Eastman Kodak Company was founded by George Eastman and Henry A. Strong on September 4, 1888. For the most part of the next century, Kodak experienced a large growth moment and went on to become one of the most dominant names in imaging. Their devices and film were so widespread that their tagline; a “Kodak Moment” became the common term used to describe any event that should be recorded for posterity.
Kodak’s road to bankruptcy started with its switch to digital imaging. In the 1990s, Kodak had prepared a plan to shift to digital. This plan was a decade long. Kodak’s CEO at the time; George M. C. Fisher reached out to Microsoft and other new consumer merchandisers. The produced a number of products that would be sold under other labels like Apple’s pioneering QuickTake consumer digital cameras. Their iconic digital cameras; The DC-20 and DC-25 launched in 1996. However, even with all these big moves, overall, there was little implementation of the new digital strategy.
At the time, Kodak’s core business faced no pressure from competing technologies. The executives also could not imagine a world were the traditional film was obsolete. This rationale made them keep most of their eggs in their film sales. Soon, consumers started gradually opting for digital cameras, moving to companies like Sony. By 2001, film sales declined. Kodak attributed this to the financial shocks caused by the September 11 attacks.
Executives hoped that Kodak might be able to slow the shift to digital through aggressive marketing
Under the control of Daniel Carp, Fisher’s successor as CEO, Kodak made its complete move to the digital camera market, with its EasyShare family of digital cameras. These easy share cameras came about as a result of lots of research. They deduced that while people liked taking digital photos, there were some, especially women, who found transferring images between computers and cameras to be really stressful. Using this key consumer need to create the EasyShare family of digital cameras Once Kodak got its product development machine started, it released a wide range of products which made it easy to share photos via PCs. One of their key innovations was a printer dock, where consumers could insert their cameras into this compact device, press a button, and watch their photos roll out. This awesome product was very successful. However, digital camera sales weren’t enough to save the company from its inevitable crash.
Decline and Bankruptcy
Despite the high growth, Kodak failed again to anticipate how fast digital cameras became commodities. This is the exact reason why the company failed. In 2001 Kodak held the No. 2 spot in U.S. digital camera sales (behind Sony). Now those were very encouraging numbers however, it lost $60 on every camera sold, while there was also a dispute between employees from its digital and film divisions. Kodak took another blow as in 2005, the film business, where Kodak enjoyed high-profit margins, fell by 18%. The losses in both the digital camera and film business resulted in disappointing profits overall. Soon Kodak’s sales dropped again, getting undercut by Asian companies. As they tried to leave the film business entirely and switch completely to digital, the worst thing happened. Digital cameras were no longer a thing; an ever-smaller percentage of digital pictures were being taken on dedicated digital cameras, being gradually displaced in the late 2000s by cameras on cell phones, smartphones, and tablets.
In January 2012, Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Shortly thereafter Kodak announced that it would stop making digital cameras, pocket video cameras and digital picture frames and focus on the corporate digital imaging market. Digital cameras are still sold under the Kodak brand by JK Imaging Ltd under an agreement with Kodak. In August 2012, Kodak announced its intention to sell its photographic film, commercial scanners and kiosk operations, as a measure to emerge from bankruptcy, but not its motion picture film operations. In January 2013, the Court approved financing for Kodak to emerge from bankruptcy by mid-2013. Kodak sold many of its patents for approximately $525,000,000 to a group of companies (including Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Samsung, Adobe Systems, and HTC) under the names Intellectual Ventures and RPX Corporation. On September 3, 2013, the company emerged from bankruptcy having shed its large legacy liabilities and exited several businesses. Personalized Imaging and Document Imaging are now part of Kodak Alaris, a separate company owned by the UK-based Kodak Pension Plan.
While it used to be a huge dealer in photographic film and cameras, Kodak dropped these sales after its bankruptcy.
Today, Kodak provides packaging, functional printing, graphic communications and professional services for businesses around the world Its main business segments are Print Systems, Enterprise Inkjet Systems, Micro 3D Printing and Packaging, Software and Solutions, and Consumer and Film. In January 2018, Kodak announced plans to launch KodakCoin, a photographer-oriented blockchain cryptocurrency.
The company is headquartered in Rochester, New York, and is incorporated in New Jersey.
Revenue – US$ 1.325 billion
Operating income – US$ -101 million
Net income – US$ 116 million
Total assets – US$ 1.415 billion
Total equity – US$ 170 million
During its dominance in the 20th century, Kodak was one of the greatest photographic companies ever. Their slow reaction the shift to digital imaging was probably their greatest flaw and ultimately their doom Kodak came out of the bankruptcy and still exists today, but how they deal with other technologies (even blockchain). I’d just like to say that instead of looking at Kodak as a failure for its 10 years of decline, let us remember it as a company that dominated its franchise for over a hundred years.