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Wednesday, 09 November 2011

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My mom gave me $50 for my birthday. Do you think it help Kodak if I sent it to them?
:(

This very sad to witness. I grew up in the shadow of the Big Yellow Box. During the early and midterm years of my pro career, I made lots of pictures for Kodak, some for their how-to books, some displayed in the Kodak Gallery in NYC, and hundreds of other commercial assignments.

During that time I was witness some spectacular corporate mistakes and even had a one-on-one speak-your-mind with a Kodak VP marketing director (professional products division) after Kodak's head in-house legal adviser overheard me and an art director complaining (in a local watering hole) about a Kodak marketing project we were working on - the product manager was hopelessly trapped in a very conservative 1960s marketing frame of mind. This was shortly after Kodak literally gave away (to Fuji) the official film sponsorship to the LA Summer Olympics and we all know how well that turned out.

While many of Kodak's mistakes can be traced to their policy of only promoting from with the organization (in worst cases, a form of corporate inbreeding), the real problems started when Kodak first went outside for a CEO. A CEO who decided Kodak would no longer make things - subcontracting as much product manufacturing as possible - but instead would become a marketing organization under the Kodak name/brand.

FYI, at one time the current CEO of Kodak, who started in the mail room, lived in my relatively modest middle income neighborhood and was often seen dring to work in his Pinto. Perhaps that was a sign of the flaming wreck to come.

Given the ongoing Olympus story, I wonder how much the price they got for it was knocked down?

With them discontinuing Plus-X, I'm just hoping that they keep producing Tri-x for the forseeable future, otherwise i might have to invest in a new freezer.

PS - poor George must be spinning in his grave like a high-speed emulsion coating machine (most of which are also in their graves).

First Olympus, and now this. There is a disturbance in The Force....

Looks like a bust-out to me. I wonder if there's a Woodford somewhere in Kodak.

Autumn leaves must fall. Damn and just as I was finally starting to love Tmax 400. That film maybe around for a while but I smell an unused equipment sell off with proceeds being used to stock up on TMY just in case.

Do none of these companies have a wise old uncle who would tell them, "NEVER TOUCH PRINCIPAL !!!" ??? And now they're spinning off the profitable parts of the company to sustain the marginal busiess? Amazing. Even a freelance photographer knows better.....

What in the hell actually happened to Kodak?
It's easy enough to say "bad management decisions over a period of time," but that's not very specific.
I'd like to think that it was the singular decision when they discontinued the very expensive R&D department to make the balance sheet look better so Management's stocks were more valuable (industrial pump and dump).

Kodak wants to transition to a completely digital company, so they sell off the sensor division.

Can someone, preferably someone at Kodak, please explain this logic?

Soon, only the logo will be left for sale.

It's going to look like At&T - alive in name only.

Please don't burn the Portra! Please! And to a lesser extent the Tri-X.

With zero attachment to the brand, and no fond memories to relate to, it hard to get worked up about this at all. I'm reminded of The Band's Unfaithful Servant: "... But the good ole days, they're all gone."

And I hope I don't own any stock via a fund or other.

I saw that the new full frame 16MP CCD sensor is available in monochrome, Bayer, and True Sense versions. I suspect that this sensor is only going to end up in industrial (i.e. non-photographic) applications. There are no potential customers (in my opinion) likely interested in a FF16MP sensor that isn't already making FF at higher pixel count. And although I would expect the image quality to be superior in absolute terms, I don't think it would be sufficiently better for marketing purposes. Pentax seems like the only potential customer, but I'd seriously doubt they have the financial resources to go FF. But what do I know? I'm just a bear. I eat the heads off of fish.

Mike, I think Kodak only sourced sensors for the original E-1 for Olympus. At any rate, it has been Panasonic sensors for years in both 4/3 and m4/3. I owned an E-1, and the sensor was indeed quite nice, especially with the wonderful 14-54 kit zoom (which I thought was probably the best ever kit zoom lens in any format.)

Patrick

It can't be a good sign when you start selling off the *healthy* bits of your business to stay afloat.

Here's hoping that I like the results from the roll of HP5+ I just finished. Too much uncertainty around Kodak's future just when I'm settling into sticking with one film type and getting to know it properly.

That link from Andrei (also mentioned By Thom Hogan recently) may be of interest, especially considering some fairly recent topics. The first sensor mentioned: "The KODAK KAI-16070 Image Sensor, a 16 megapixel, 35mm optical format device that is the first to leverage a new 7.4 micron pixel platform that provides superior image quality for the most demanding imaging applications."

Yes there's marketing in there, but later on in the article we have: "The KAI-16070 is available in monochrome, Bayer Color, and KODAK TRUESENSE Color Filter Pattern configurations."

Now who on Earth would be interested in a 35mm monochrome sensor? ;)

Tim,

Kodak presumably needs to raise cash in order to stave off bankruptcy in order to make itself attractive to companies such as Google that would buy it for its patent portfolio.

In other words, re-arranging deck chairs.

At least, in my opinion, those 200 or so employees are probably better off than stick with it to the end with Kodak.

Dear folks,

I'd be surprised if Kodak isn't just a dead corporation walking.

I've written about their history the number of times on The Online Photographer, so I'll keep this very brief. I don't think their massive strategic missteps in the 1980s had much effect on the digital future; it just cost them their primacy in the “analog” photography world. They were really, really stupid.

But they weren't stupid about digital. They figured out in the early 1980s it was going to be important and starting then they tried a whole string of initiatives that would position them well in that market. They all failed for one reason or another. Some of the reasons were foreseeable, some only with 20-20 hindsight. Regardless, they tried establishing a position in almost every aspect of that industry, and many of their products were excellent. But none of them were market successes for very long and none of them achieved the strategic goal.

Probably their most successful effort was the DCS line of premium digital cameras, a market the Kodak used to essentially own. The DCS 14n debacle destroyed that market. And that WAS a massive screwup on their part. The unexpectedly rapid collapse of the film market in the same short time frame probably sealed their fate back then, barring really brilliant management and long-term strategy. Both of which were sorely lacking at Kodak by that point.


pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
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-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 
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Do you suppose that if Kodak completely tanks they will at least publish the formula for Xtol as a friendly gesture?

"Kodak wants to transition to a completely digital company, so they sell off the sensor division.

Can someone, preferably someone at Kodak, please explain this logic?"

Well, I'm not at Kodak, but I can see Kodak Park from here (insert Sarah Palin voice here,) and work in a former Kodak building in Gates.

It looks to me like they want to primarily be a digital output company, concentrating on digital presses, which are higher margin products.

As for the other comment, about Xerox, I think they're way smarter than Kodak, at least now. I've never worked for Kodak, but I've worked for Xerox and my wife works there now. Yeah, they have a lot of coulda-shoulda-wouldas but they are now pretty stable. Knock on wood.

In the late 1990's, Professor Clayton Christensen published his seminal work "The Innovator's Dilema." Christensen showed convincingly that it is exceedingly rare for the leader in a given generation of a technology to be the leader in the succeeding generation. Companies essentially get trapped by the large revenue numbers (anything new looks puny by comparison), by their customer base (who consistently ask for product line extensions that grow complexity and cost over time), and by the fear of disrupting their own products. Christensen demonstrated this dilemma across a broad array of products and industries. I can think of no better example of that whole trap than Eastman Kodak. R.I.P.

I am late to this party, but here is an excellent presentation on Kodak as it anticipated and tried to deal with the digital era:

http://www.slideshare.net/Christiansandstrom/kodak-destruction

While obviously mistakes were made, I think the fundamental problem (as ctein stated) is not that Kodak didn't anticipate digital imaging, but that their core strengths simply didn't translate to the digital era.

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