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Friday, 30 September 2011


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Does rather look like endgame there!

Looks like 2008 was when they really fell off the cliff -- stock prices in the 20s or low 30s for a long time, then suddenly dropped to single digits and stayed there.

Now they're hitting the ground, I guess.

I've got an actual roll of Kodak film in the house, recently purchased (the other two from the consumer three-pack were shot in the Nishika 3D camera; I'm waiting for those to come back from Snap3D in Toronto).

More profoundly, Kodak is a $209 million company. That's million, with an "m". It's truly a small business, and getting smaller by the day.

One can only hope that they declare bankruptcy, sell off the intellectual property assets to Google, then sell the motion picture and photographic film businesses to someone who knows how to manage them. Either that, or their film production lines can be dismantled and shipped off to China and taken over by a true low-cost producer.

All I care about, ultimately, is the survival of film as a medium.

Sounds just like all my other stock holdings!

So, their peak was in 1998… coincidentally, that was the year I joined Kodak… when I left a year later, it was all downhill for them ;-))) I told them film has about five more years to go, they thought more like 10-15. Coincidentally again, I was the only photographer among the local management.

That figures, I've just switched to their colour film for the first time, in the past year. A sad moment for film users and photographers everywhere. It looks like they've called in "restructuring lawyers". http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204138204576603053167627950.html

This implosion isn't alone in American business today. HP, another famous 20th century icon, has lost $53.5B in market cap in the past year by my calculation.

My worry is not that film will survive as a medium - it will, as a specialist market served by small and dedicated companies.

My biggest worry is that the collections of George Eastman house and the the other Kodak archives get broken up and sold piecemeal. That would be a tragedy.

I was following the Kodak story on bloomberg all day; and it pushed me to buy the Kodak stuff I was dithering over for so long- the new Portra, and BW400CN.

Long ago, when I first became serious about photography, I always thought Kodak to be 'the' premium brand but bought Fuji because it was cheaper.

The epiphany came when I realized the green stuff was better than the yellow stuff priced twice as high. For many years Fuji Crystal 100 (Superia 100) remained my favorite film; I did almost all my work with it (+ some Superia 400) until 2006, when I went DSLR.

Most heartbreaking of all for me was to see Fuji discontinue their Crystal/Superia 100, but I suppose I too am to blame for it.

Kodak denies they're contemplating a bankruptcy filing as I write. But in fact it's likely they'll have no choice if they want to continue selling their patents. I fully expect them to file by year-end.

It's all over for the Kodak era. Nothing left but sweeping-up and blowing out the table candles.

If you like Kodak film, stop spreading rumors. It will affect their stock value and make things even worse for them. There are cases when banks went abnkrupt because of a rumor - their clients panicked and ran off to the bank get their cash out.

When Kodak stopped making enlargement paper several years ago I bought a two years supply at half price from my local dealer who had bought remnants from Kodak. When I came back to stock up two days later all was gone.

This time I will buy a small deep freeze and a ten year supply of TMX and TMY. Already now they are much lower priced that Ilford and Fuji, at least in Germany and France.

If nothing else, the end of Kodak is symbolic of how the world has changed. Ten years ago, the idea that Kodak would be on the threshold of insolvency was ludicrous. Kodak film was a household item, as ubiquitous as toilet paper, something that everyone used! Today if you walk in a drug store or Wal-Mart and purchase film the kid behind the counter will roll their eyes as though you were asking where the rotary phones are kept. Ten years and a century old cornerstone of American business is all but gone. There is a cautionary tale in this, but the tale is too depressing to think about.

...having been in the advertising/management end of retail for years, I can tell you that there are a lot of companies that survive on 3-5% profit margins and do rather well, they're not allowed many 'mis-steps', though...

I don't have any idea what Kodak's numbers are, but as others have stated on here before, Kodak seems to kill everything when they don't get the numbers they want instead of 'right-sizing' it for the profitability. A bad mistake. You can't go out of every business you're in! And as I used to say at one of the last companies I worked, you can't 'cost-save' your way to profitability, sooner or later, you have to sell something to the public!

I'm sure Kodak never needed to pull the plug on paper making, just drop it down to one or two lines of their highest quality papers and advertise the heck out of them to the art community. I fear they will pull the plug on films as well, when they could just drop it to a few black and white emulsions, a few transparency emulsions, and a few of their well regarded color neg emulsions; I've certainly gotten on the Ektar 100 wagon as of late.

I can't remember the entire story, but it seems like Ilford's 'bankruptcy' and reorganization, something they needed to do under British law to shed employees, has brought them back in a much stronger position for survival.

I certainly hope that Kodak doesn't go the way of Polaroid, years of poor management, and then selling the name and assets to people that really don't even understand what the company was about...sad...

I really can't understand what is going on in the world with this stuff, it seems like almost everyone I know who is smart and decisive, a lot of them genius level, are unemployed and might stay that way for the rest of their lives, and yet there is all these weird, marginal business grads that are driving all these companies into the ground with poor decisions and bad management. What is it about the American business educational system that creates this crap, while 'drop-outs' like Steve Jobs can do what they do. This is truly a bizzaro world.

Truly the end of an era. Once the core of my life, back when I'd fill out the yellow tag on the little drawstring bag holding my precious roll of Kodachrome. Then it in the mail slot and anticipate opening that yellow box of slides (aka transparencies, "chromes").

And you know what? I wouldn't go back even if I could. I love the digital age. Too bad Kodak couldn't figure out how to adapt.

When I graduated from RIT in 1976 Kodak was King of the hill in the photographic world. I never thought I'd be saying "I'm rooting for the underdog" and the underdog would be Eastman Kodak.

I'm currently doing an image quality and image durability study on the the latest ink sets being offered in wireless AIO desktop inkjet printers. I have five different models sitting in my office at the moment, and two are Kodak units. I included them in the study because the others are dye-based printers whereas the Kodak units use pigments, and the Kodak ESP7250 also has a gloss optimizer. Truth be told, the build quality is arguably better on the Epson, HP, and Canon units, but the Kodak models still have "something special" about them. Perhaps it's that the ESP 7250 with it's gloss optimizer really can put out some decent prints which are likely to be the most stable in the bunch (tests in progress), or perhaps it's the easily user replaceable print heads and lower ink prices (at least in initial cost per cartridge... it remains to be seen how the Kodak units consume cartridges compared to the others). Or perhaps it's just that I'm rooting for the underdog. I do that a lot these days....

Steve B.-
George Eastman House (and its priceless collection of photographs) is completely independent of Kodak. It's true that Kodak provided about half the funding for the museum's major expansion 1988-1990, and has generally had representation on the Eastman House board. But the museum's finances are independent of Kodak. Eastman House's endowment took a serious hit in the 2008 melt-down and they were forced to cut staff to the bone, but its major programs are still intact.
Sounds like a plug, I know, but anyone living nearby should consider membership. It starts at only $55 a year, and includes access to all sorts of events. For instance, on October 27th members can take a tour of the museum's Whitmore Conservation Center to see how the collection is studied and preserved.

What is it about the American business educational system that creates this crap, while 'drop-outs' like Steve Jobs can do what they do. This is truly a bizzaro world.
It is selection pressure: higher education selects for people who are smart are interested in something particular. People who are not so selected, and not interested, curious, or selective, drift into business school or pursue public office. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine who becomes upper management and who creates new and valuable things.

I think of Nikon right now as a similar prospect... zero innovation, high margins on their core products which haven't been upgraded in years, and a sense of superiority when they introduce a new product which is 5 years behind the times.

Selling IP/patents (in large numbers / important ones) has always seemed like the height of stupidity to me. That is what you are using to make your money!

Anyhow I wonder, seeing as Kodak doesn't seem to have any plan whatsoever. What would you do if you were Kodak?

It is obvious the firm industry is growing smaller. Kodak is the one who do a lot of work on digital (down to layer of the RGGB). But somehow, with hindsight, they or we cannot get that in a digital world the sensor is not film. Kodak dominate both in 1998. You want film they have a big market share. You want digital, they also have that cover.

However, 1999 is the year when Nikon break out and produce a D1 that is not 100k+. (It was the year even a hobbist like me started that the new digital camera is interesting and look at D1 review.)

I guess they sort of know it and take the usual MBA path i.e. downsizing (and milk the cash crow of) the film part to fund the other part (digital camera + film / sensor). Somehow it tried (Kodak 14n) but not very successful. Then it goes all downhill there. It is hard and unlike Ford/GM etc. the volume is no longer there or for them to take. For stylish thing, Kodak never was. For camera and lens, it is German/Japan especially in the small camera part.

With hindsight, what can they do as a hugh Dow Jones company?

I further wonder whether for Kodak size company, the issue at stake might be it never though of itself being a $200m company. Hence, it cannot scale down to that level. Anyway, the top managers may not be able to benchmark with guys like IIford and middle managers would not work in such company. Hence, you can see the madness of trying to get volumes and grow some segments (another MBA training).

Now, the reality finally come, I really hope that they or whatever the company take over can becomes and learn to be smaller after Chapter 11. It is not going to be Ford/GM/... etc. The core market has changed, not just the model. Time to move on.

In the mean time, I would buy a bit more chemicals and start to learn chemistry come down to that.

I think today Thom article on Nikon buying Kodak is what I thinking of a way out.

I walked a few street today and each street has the name Kodak there (1 pro lab 3 minilab)! Down on my apartment, I can see the Kodak Tower!

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