The Kodak Brownie had its heyday. So did Kodachrome, and the Instamatic camera, but the Eastman Kodak company needs to find a way to disrupt itself in the marketplace, or it will surely die.
George Eastman founded Kodak in 1880, and the company has successfully stayed at the forefront of relevant value to consumers. Wall Street rewarded their success, and it has been considered a “Blue Chip” (i.e. reliable) stock for generations. And was once seen as an all-American institution, the likes of Coca-Cola and Chevrolet.
Then came digital photography. The company failed to re-invent itself to adjust for the new realities of how consumers interact with photography, despite having invented the digital camera in 1975. The company is now on the verge of bankruptcy. The company is losing $70 million per month.
Their strategy, so far, has been to shutter or sell unprofitable products or divisions—like Kodachrome and even its digital division—the Kodak Gallery. As for future revenue, it's counting on patent licensing and winning patent lawsuits against Apple and RIM, the maker of BlackBerry phones, and trying to re-invent itself into a printer company.
Wait, that’s another dying industry isn’t it?
A HMS case study points that in 1976, Kodak had 90% of the film market and 85% of camera sales in the U.S. But Kodak was blind to the changes in the industry, and essentially refused to believe that their market would evaporate. First, competitors like Fuji Photo came in, then digital camera rivals like Sony, then the market dried up with the ubiquity of cameras in smartphones and other devices.
Kodachrome became the horse-drawn carriage in an era of
The company last saw a profitable year in 2007.
There once was a time when Kodak was such an integral part of our lives that having a "Kodak moment," was common in our lexicon—the question is will this phrase die with the generation who knew Kodak for what it was, or will it re-invent itself to be meaning and vital to the current, and next generations? Bold management, and a self-disruptive strategy seems to be their only path to survival.