A conversation on innovation and continuous improvement can’t be completed unless someone refers “See what really happened to Kodak” and this is my experience in the last couple of years, you might have heard of more anecdotes, would love to hear for sure.
So what really happened to Kodak, a question when I started seeking an answer, realized Google gives 8,70,000 results. There you go, you have 8,70,000 stories on Kodak hence I will not create a new one, will keep this post merely for academic purpose, a compilation all interesting things about Kodak journey.
Kodak was founded by George Eastman and Henry A. Strong on September 4, 1888, a fine organization with world class technology in its era until it filed for bankruptcy in 2012, last heard attempts are being made to revive the brand.
Almost throughout the 20th century, it dominated the world of the photographic film industry, who can forget Kodak Moments!
Against the popular belief, Kodak did make all the possible attempts to go digital and further disrupting the marketplace, in fact, they were first to create a digital camera way back in 1975. A prototype type of digital camera was created by Steve Sasson, an engineer working for Kodak, it took 20 secs to take an image. Kodak had the finest of engineers and almost 11,000 patent registered, they were really not behind innovation or thinking about disruption.
Series of events lead to the decline of Kodak off which none can be truly be said was the only factor responsible for the decline of Kodak. Basis my conclusion, the decline really happened because of one primary reason.
Ability to take a risk (short term pain for long term growth), Kodak had the majority of revenue from film business and promoting digital camera would have eaten away this profitability it’s as simple, in all likely investors may not have liked it. A digital camera was entirely a new business, not a new a way of doing business, for Kodak success of digital camera in long term would have meant the death of films. Trust, it’s the most difficult decision for any leadership team when you have a one-star product and you are supposed to create a new star to kill the existing one which is extremely profitable.
The decline of Kodak is also attributed to the rise of Fuji, they were getting it all right. A detailed story published in techcrunch.com will give you an indication of what was going to happen to Kodak but again, its surgery on a dead body.
Interestingly, Kodak could have been bigger than Facebook, Instagram and Google probably, it’s just had to say ..go ahead and share! instead of printing. Kodak moment was just for that purpose but it was pushed for printing. I found this HBR article and commentary from readers really informative, gives you more nuisances and the inside story.
I will be happy to add more interesting facts about Kodak, will keep this article in EDIT mode, your contribution and feedback is important. Meanwhile I sincere believe, someone should really create a movie or short video on Kodak story, will be an instant hit in the corporate world.