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Kodak Files For Bankruptcy Protection 190

Posted by Soulskill
from the hanging-on-for-another-moment dept.
Snirt writes "Following up on a story previously discussed here, it now appears Eastman Kodak, the company that invented the hand-held camera, has filed for bankruptcy protection. The move, according to Kodak's news release, gives the company time to reorganize itself without facing its creditors, and Kodak said it would mean business as normal for customers. The company has recently moved away from cameras, focusing on making printers to stem falling profits."
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Kodak Files For Bankruptcy Protection

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  • Kodak's Moment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xmas2003 (739875) * on Thursday January 19, 2012 @09:53AM (#38747256) Homepage
    Sad to see ... but they've been living off patents and selling assets the last couple of years ... so not surprising they ran outa $$$
    • by voss (52565) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @10:17AM (#38747422)

      and other people use it, then you have the right to be compensated for that use.

      Were not talking about patent trolling, Kodak invented technologies, uses those technologies in its own products, and licenses those techs to other companies.
      Whats wrong with that. Apple wants to use its patents to block competition while Kodak wants people (including Apple) to pay when they use its technology. Kodak historically has treated its customers and its employees very well(with pensions including retiree health insurance).

      • by c0lo (1497653) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @10:27AM (#38747518)

        and other people use it, then you have the right to be compensated for that use.

        Even better: if you stop inventing and people stop using your products, you still have a right to fill for bankruptcy protection.

      • by morgauxo (974071)
        Absolutely nothing is wrong with that.

        But... if that's all they do then all their factories (and many jobs) become dead weight. The large corporation becomes just a small R&D shop.

        And are any of their patents new anyway? Nobody should get a profit on a patent forever! The same laws of physics that make you and I possible makes their 'invention' possible. And if they didn't discover something somebody else would have eventually. Nobody should really own that but you do get a 'guaranteed' profi
      • The parent wasn't criticising making money from patents. The point they are making is that the money they make from patent royalties and selling off assets was nowhere near enough to keep them afloat and that has been clear for some time now.
    • Re:Kodak's Moment (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Lev13than (581686) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @10:35AM (#38747588) Homepage

      Kodak's demise is a cautionary tale for anyone who owns Apple stock. The two companies have a lot in common - at one point Kodak's products were in every house in the developed world. Kodak owned entire categories of consumer devices and were heavily used by the creative classes. Kodak had the additional advantage of being entrenched in a number of huge industries, including news, media, Hollywood and hospitals. In short, they were seen as indispensable and their earnings reflected this reality.

      Fast forward 30 years and they completely failed to re-invent themselves, which is mandatory for consumer products companies. Sony has its own issues, but at least they aren't trying to make a go of Walkmans any more. Apple is approaching a similar inflection point, and their need to innovate goes well beyond a slightly larger, slightly faster iPhone.

      • Re:Kodak's Moment (Score:4, Insightful)

        by MightyYar (622222) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @11:16AM (#38748046)

        Kodak didn't die because they stopped innovating... they died because they removed themselves from the camera-making business. Then, when it became clear that people wanted digital, they had no expertise or market presence in cameras. Why would someone buy a Kodak camera when they could buy a Nikon or Canon, or even a Pentax or Vivitar... anyone who had been making cameras already.

        Apple is at the complete opposite side of things - they are a hardware company first and foremost. If the smart phone market goes away, along with the tablet and PC markets, then yeah Apple is screwed. If they fail to stay state-of-the-art, then yeah they are screwed. But they are not a big producer of consumables like Kodak was - Kodak is more like Gillette than Apple.

        • Re:Kodak's Moment (Score:5, Informative)

          by squidflakes (905524) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @11:30AM (#38748184) Homepage

          Kodak invented the digital camera, so it is a bit false to claim that they had no expertise in the field. Where they went wrong was trying to protect their film business by sacrificing their early lead on development and licensing out the technology.

          If a longer vision had prevailed at Kodak, people with Nikon and Canon cameras might be wistfully longing that they could afford one of the big boy Kodak cameras.

          • Re:Kodak's Moment (Score:5, Interesting)

            by iteyoidar (972700) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @11:37AM (#38748248)

            Kodak invented the digital camera, so it is a bit false to claim that they had no expertise in the field. Where they went wrong was trying to protect their film business by sacrificing their early lead on development and licensing out the technology.

            If a longer vision had prevailed at Kodak, people with Nikon and Canon cameras might be wistfully longing that they could afford one of the big boy Kodak cameras.

            This quote was the most important part of the article to me, it should have been in the summary:

            "Former Kodak vice president Don Strickland insists the firm's late entry into the digital market is a key factor in its recent troubles. He claims he left the company in 1993 after he failed to get backing from within the company to release a digital camera.

            'We developed the world's first consumer digital camera and Kodak could have launched it in 1992. We could not get approval to launch or sell it because of fear of the cannibalisation of film,' he told BBC News.

            Although Kodak was one of the original inventors of digital photography, it failed to keep pace with developments in the market and competitors including Fuji steadily eroded its share of the market."

            I had no idea Kodak had anything going on with digital cameras that far back, I remember the Sonys and Canons and so on and then Kodak eventually came out with some cheap crap-cameras after film was pretty much dead, what a huge business screw-up...

            • Re:Kodak's Moment (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Chris Mattern (191822) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @11:43AM (#38748332)

              I had no idea Kodak had anything going on with digital cameras that far back,

              Kodak, quite literally, *invented* digital cameras. They could've released them while they still had legitimate patents on all of it. Instead, they became the poster child for the business advice, "If you don't release the better product that cannibalizes what you're selling now, someone else will."

            • He's either misremembering or misrepresenting - as Kodak's first digital camera was released in 1991.

            • We could not get approval to launch or sell it because of fear of the cannibalisation of film,' he told BBC News.

              See Innovator's Dilemma [mit.edu]

            • by sootman (158191)

              > 'We developed the world's first consumer digital camera and Kodak could
              > have launched it in 1992. We could not get approval to launch or sell it
              > because of fear of the cannibalisation of film,' he told BBC News.

              I doubt he originated the phrase but I heard Steve Jobs once say (in reference to the iPhone eating into iPod sales) "If you're not willing to cannibalize your own business, someone else will."

          • by MightyYar (622222)

            Kodak invented the digital camera, so it is a bit false to claim that they had no expertise in the field.

            They had (and have!) plenty of experience making CCDs. But they gave up their consumer camera business at least a decade before digital cameras were feasible. Then, when they realized that they needed to make cameras again, they had no manufacturing infrastructure, no experience designing consumer cameras, no experience making consumer lenses.

            If a longer vision had prevailed at Kodak, people with Nikon and Canon cameras might be wistfully longing that they could afford one of the big boy Kodak cameras.

            It is certainly possible. They could have re-introduced their consumer cameras in the late 80s/early 90s when they were going gangbusters and adopted digital when it b

          • by morgauxo (974071)
            No. They invented the CCD. Yes, that is arguably the most important part of a digital camera but really, if you compare it to a film camera the only part the CCD replaces is the film. That's exactly what Kodak had previously made. Everything else (the optics) was what the other companies already specialized in.

            As much as I hate to say it they probably should have been less open with sharing the CCD while at the same time trying harder to develop cameras equivalent to the established competitors.
            • by idontgno (624372)

              So the fletcher invents the gun and licenses the technology out to the nascent gunsmithing industry, because they're afraid to undercut their brisk trade in arrows. Then the bowmaker starves to death because no one buys arrows for their new guns.

              I can't think of any obvious historical precedent, but it seems like I've heard this story before. The market giant invents its own demise and refuses to make the leap. The dinosaur gets nibbled to death by the teeny tiny agile and hungry little mammals.

              There is som

              • Not a perfect analogy but the Japanese in the 15th and 16th centuries were the largest manufacturer of firearms on the planet, but the Shoguns got so spooked that firearms would destabilize the Japanese form of feudalism that they banned the manufacture, and Japan was literally pushed back a few hundred years. Of course, Admiral Perry came along with his really big guns, and the Japanese quickly realized they had to catch up in a hurry (and thus began probably the most rapid modernization and industrializat

        • Kodak didn't die because they stopped innovating... they died because they removed themselves from the camera-making business. Then, when it became clear that people wanted digital, they had no expertise or market presence in cameras.

          That would be why Kodak was an early entrant into the digital market, with a huge market presence (especially in the professional segment).

          Seriously, this myth that Kodak is dying because they were late and/or wholly incompetent in the digital market needs to die in a f

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        I don't see the connection with Apple. Kodak's demise came from the fact that even though they invented the hand hald camera, their film was what made them great, not their cameras. No professional photographer ever used a Kodak camera. You say "were heavily used by the creative classes", I say "citation needed" unless you're referring to the use of their film, which was unequaled. Kodak cameras were cheap consumer products. When film all but became obsolete all they had were patents, they lost the money ma

        • by Lev13than (581686)

          In later years their killer device was film, but before that it was film + cameras. Their Brownie camera, for example, kick-starting the consumer photo revolution.

          In fact, Kodak's transition from film + camera to film only (with innovations such as Kodak Disc, APS-C demonstrating their ability to develop new markets) is a good example of successful disruptive innovation. Where they failed was the jump from film to digital.

        • Re:Kodak's Moment (Score:5, Interesting)

          by squidflakes (905524) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @11:58AM (#38748502) Homepage

          That really depends on the time period. During the late part of the 19th Century, The Eastman Dry Plate company was the only game in town if you were an American photographer. Yes, the higher quality European cameras were available, but at the price point, you could get an Eastman field camera in 8X10 for a quarter of the price of one of the lower quality Zeiss Anastigmat optics.

          When Eastman Kodak brought Folmer & Schwing in to the company they started producing one of the most amazing and ubiquitous press cameras ever made, the Speed Graphic.

          So, in the early days, professionals of all stripes used Kodak made cameras. The military in both World Wars relied on Kodak produced cameras and lenses.

          You are right that Kodak made most of their money off consumables. That was their business model from the very start, but that doesn't mean they didn't produce some good, even if not quite great, cameras and optics.

          Personally, I'm going to miss my Tri-X and hope that someone revives it, a la the Impossible Project.

      • The similarities end there, though. I'm no fanboy, but Apple is constantly adapting to new conditions. When did Kodak, for example, make a leap similar to what did when Apple got into (and soon dominated) the music business?

      • by Kenshin (43036)

        Oh yes, Apple realized this when they needed something more than a slightly faster Mac.

        I'm not saying they'll do it again, but they've already been in a similar situation. Or do we forget 1997 so quickly?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by flanders123 (871781)
        How is this +5? Over the past decades Apple has:

        -(Re)invented the home computer market
        -(Re)invented the digital music market
        -(Re)invented the mobile phone market
        -(Re)Invented the mobile app market
        -(Re)invented the tablet market

        Like them or not, equating Apple to a non-innovating dinosaur like Kodak is about the worst analogy I have seen on /, ... and that is saying something.
        • by Lev13than (581686)

          And from the 1890s to the 1980s Kodak did the same thing, repeatedly, in the fields of consumer and professional imaging. Think Kodak folding cameras, Brownie cameras, 120 film, 35mm film, Kodachrome. Then they stopped.

          • So Kodak is (was?) like Apple because they had *extensive* innovation within analog film photography? That's like saying, "oh, we diversified into both country *and* western."

      • by naasking (94116)

        Apple is approaching a similar inflection point, and their need to innovate goes well beyond a slightly larger, slightly faster iPhone.

        What evidence do you have that Apple is approaching this "inflection point"? In fact, I don't see any parallels between Apple and Kodak at all, that don't equally apply to every other successful company, like Microsoft. Kodak stagnated over a decade ago, and Apple innovation hasn't decreased in pace. Why caution people about Apple specifically and not Microsoft and others?

    • Don't forget that Antonio Perez has been overpaid [forbes.com] in comparison to the performance of the company.

      Note that his pay went up in the rankings while Kodak slid further and further down.
      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        What high lever exec hasn't been? I mean, you have banks the US government bailinmg out giving million dollar bonuses to the CEOs that ran them into the ground to begin with. Not just banks -- look at Hewlett Packard, and how much Fiona was paid.

  • by PlatyPaul (690601) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @09:53AM (#38747258) Homepage Journal
    I was a summer intern at KRL (Kodak Research Labs), working on digital image processing, when the whole printer thing took off, and it was painfully obvious to us that it was a terrible move. Putting Bill Lloyd (formerly head of inkjet work) in place as CTO seemed to cement things in place.

    Who prints anything at home these days, anyway? Especially photos....
    • by sglewis100 (916818) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @10:15AM (#38747408)
      Wasn't their whole printer strategy selling printers with low cost ink [google.com]? So am I understanding this correctly - their camera business wasn't making money, so they entered into the printer business, but rather than sell low margin printers and high margin ink, they sell low margin printers and low margin ink?
      • by rtb61 (674572)

        Gossip on the web had it that Kodak's demise is largely due to inflated executive salaries and nepotism in executive placement as their only real business strategy going forward or was that backward and down the drain.

      • by omnichad (1198475)

        It may not make a lot of money, but it sure made me happy. I'm a happy Kodak printer customer and I've referred a dozen or so people to them. I never print pictures, either. It's just a good, reliable printer for me. It would be sad if I stopped being able to get ink for that printer. Their drivers aren't perfect, but they're much more reasonable than HP, and they use Bonjour, which is kind of nice.

        • by morgauxo (974071)
          If that killed corporations there wouldn't be any today.
        • I have a Kodak printer. Bonjour is the THE REASON why I hate it. Why do I need to install that on my computer just to print?

          MS had the "network printer" model in place for a long time. Why didn't they just use it? It provides for driver downloads and my router takes care of discovery.

          • by omnichad (1198475)

            That model doesn't provide for network scanning. They wanted to use the same networking technology for printing and scanning. Sounds fine to me. I use a hackintosh at home, though. Works fine with both and IP address changes don't matter.

      • by timeOday (582209)
        HP had the expensive ink market covered. Kodak's only hope was to undercut them.
    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      Who prints anything at home these days, anyway? Especially photos....

      Ask Epson and Canon who seem to be making quite the killing selling high-end yet still overpriced photoprinters for the home and to photographers. A printer sale often means a continuous source of income as companies screw customers on the cost of ink. You'd be amazed how many people actually have reasonable photo printers at home and do their own printing.

      Sure the local Fuji shop is very cheap when you print a 6x4, but as soon as you step away from that standard size home printing starts looking better and

    • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @10:23AM (#38747488) Homepage

      Who prints anything at home these days, anyway? Especially photos....

      Printing and photocopying we actually do in our house ... expense reports and other things like that being the main driver. Not daily, but often enough.

      Photos, I've been convinced for the last few years isn't cost effective to print ... you can get prints at an actual photo place for so cheap now, you couldn't buy the ink and paper for what it would cost you. I think the last time I got prints it was about 7 cents/print.

      However, the last two photo printers we had were Kodak ... and they were absolute crap. One failed and got replaced within a month or so, and its replacement died a similar way. It was cheaply made, worked poorly, and didn't last very long. We pretty much decided we'd never buy another Kodak product again.

      So, Kodak's demise may have been coming for years ... but in the end, I blame the quality of their consumer products. They were trying to compete on the bottom end, but in the end, it was just a race to the bottom.

      • Photos, I've been convinced for the last few years isn't cost effective to print ... you can get prints at an actual photo place for so cheap now, you couldn't buy the ink and paper for what it would cost you. I think the last time I got prints it was about 7 cents/print.

        This only work so long as you're content with what you can get for 7 cents/print. Like everything else in the race to the bottom, you get what you pay for - and the 7 cent print is the equivalent of a Big Mac. Cheap, satisfying in the sho

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          This only work so long as you're content with what you can get for 7 cents/print. Like everything else in the race to the bottom, you get what you pay for - and the 7 cent print is the equivalent of a Big Mac. Cheap, satisfying in the short term, but utter crap.

          Actually, this was from a place that was doing full on photo processing with the machine and all that ... a 4x6 glossy print on proper photo paper and with the good inks, not inkjet.

          It was as good a quality of print as you'd be able to get from one o

          • This only work so long as you're content with what you can get for 7 cents/print. Like everything else in the race to the bottom, you get what you pay for - and the 7 cent print is the equivalent of a Big Mac. Cheap, satisfying in the short term, but utter crap.

            Actually, this was from a place that was doing full on photo processing with the machine and all that ... a 4x6 glossy print on proper photo paper and with the good inks, not inkjet.

            McDonald's does full on cooking, and a Big Mac contains proper b

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Like everything else in the race to the bottom, you get what you pay for - and the 7 cent print is the equivalent of a Big Mac. Cheap, satisfying in the short term, but utter crap.

          Everyone gets it backwards. "You get what you pay for" is sales talk, and often incorrect. You do, however, usually pay for what you get... but not often do you get what you think you're paying for. Take that big mac. Cheap? Not compared to a hamburger you cook at home. A nickle for the meat, a penny for the cheese and bread, frac

      • by omnichad (1198475)

        Are you talking about the "photo printers" that spit out 4x6 prints or the newer all-in-one inkjet printers? I happen to really like the full-size ones, but never heard anything good about the dock'n'print style printers.

    • by mapkinase (958129)

      When people say "who does X nowadays" it does not mean that nobody does it. It means that the niche for X shrank significantly. So should Kodak, but it should not automatically mean bankruptcy.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Who prints anything at home these days, anyway? Especially photos....

      Elderly people... I had this same conversation with my 84 year old mom, who wanted to know if Walgreen's would print pictures from her new digital camera. "Why," I asked her, "would you want to print them when you can see them on your computer monitor, much larger and sharper?"

      "Well," she said, "I like hardcopies. And what if I want to mail them to somebody?"

      "You have email."

      "But what of I want to mail it through the post office?"

      I just si

    • by mikestew (1483105)

      Kodak also had an on-again-off-again affair with printers. I bought one their laser printers for our business in the mid-90s. Kodak knows imaging, right? The price was right, and it had a good spec/price ratio. All was well until the toner ran out and I found out they quit supporting it almost as soon as it was released. Oh well, should have stuck to an HP LaserJet. Note to self: nothing else from Kodak that doesn't involve film.

      Years later Kodak's making printers again. Oh, I don't think so, Kodak. Beside,

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @09:56AM (#38747270) Homepage Journal

    tl;dr: don't be afraid of cannibalizing your own sales. Because if you don't, some other bugger will anyway.

    • by ledow (319597) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @10:02AM (#38747316) Homepage

      That's a good rule for business, I like it.

      Kodak died by not getting into the digital "thing" quickly enough and then doing poorly by the time they did. Same with Polaroid, really. Too stubborn to admit that their technology was coming to the end of an era and develop a replacement and instead letting their competitors (and even just random no-name companies at the time) do it for them.

      At least they'll die having done almost nothing but film photography, so it looks like they just died as the industry for that died, rather than dragging the name through the dirt for decades trying to cling on to film's replacement.

      I don't get attached to brands, but I do object to people running their businesses badly. The world's largest consumer of silver at one point - but totally failed to adapt when everyone stopped buying film. It's not a nice epitaph.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by PlatyPaul (690601)
        Wrong, wrongity wrong wrong.

        They tried [kodak.com] going [kodak.com] digital [kodak.com].

        They were just too late.
        • by cabjf (710106) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @10:20AM (#38747454)
          Kodak suffered under extremely poor management for at least the last two decades. The refusal to change with the times (like trying to shelve digital cameras to protect film sales) and selling off their profitable departments (like medical imaging) for short term gains have left them with almost nothing of value. I'm not sure how much of what is left is worth restructuring. At this point, creditors, shareholders, and retirees might be better off with a liquidation sale.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by edoules (2541340)
          He said: 'Kodak died by not getting into the digital "thing" quickly enough and then doing poorly by the time they did.' Does that make him right, rightitty right right?
        • by nahdude812 (88157) *

          Wrong, wrongity wrong wrong.

          They tried [kodak.com] going [kodak.com] digital [kodak.com].

          They were just too late.

          Perhaps you missed the part where he said:

          Kodak died by not getting into the digital "thing" quickly enough and then doing poorly by the time they did.

          I wouldn't have pointed it out except you were so flamboyantly adamant that he missed the point he had actually opened with.

      • by hedwards (940851)

        Technically, Kodak invented digital then tried to bury it before anybody noticed. It's something which happens fairly often when the CEO can't fathom how to lead the company into the future.

      • Kodak died by not getting into the digital "thing" quickly enough and then doing poorly by the time they did. Same with Polaroid, really. Too stubborn to admit that their technology was coming to the end of an era and develop a replacement and instead letting their competitors (and even just random no-name companies at the time) do it for them.

        That's a common mythperception - and utterly wrong. Kodak was an early entrant into the digital realm, and a strong leader there for a number of years. Where they f

        • by ledow (319597)

          Kodak invented the digital camera. They didn't capitalise it. Kodak digital cameras are almost unheard of and have been even since the early days. In Europe they had precisely zip of any percentage of the market at all (and Europe's a pretty big market to be missing out on). The only one I've *ever* seen in the flesh was an early 1.something MP one.

          Strong sales of even one model does not a success make - they failed to get into the digital thing quickly enough to make a success, even if they invented it

          • The only one I've *ever* seen in the flesh was an early 1.something MP one.

            I hate to break it to you, but you aren't the universe. I have three different Kodak digital cameras in my collection, the latest being a 5MP C340 purchased in 2009. If my mom sends me my (recently deceased) dad's camera collection rather than leaving it to me in her will... That'll add another four different models - one being a brand new 14MP Z5010.

            Strong sales of even one model does not a success make - they failed to g

      • Kodak Invented digital cameras, and the first digital camera I ever used was an Apple Quicktake manufacture by........ Kodak.

        They wanted to get into it, but just never could get their minds away from "sell cheap cameras to sell expensive film and processing". It was more business model than tech.

        As much as people like to bash Apple here, Apple is one of the better ones to say "hell yes we'll sell what destroys our current product". It's released iPods that cannibalized existing ones (Nano replaced Mini), an

    • Better the money goes into your pot (even if it theoretically "damages" another of your business units -- in this case digital vs. film) than one of your competitors.

      Kodak have brought this on themselves. I'll be stocking up on their film though. EliteChrome EBX and Ektar are pretty nice...

  • by ToadProphet (1148333) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @09:58AM (#38747280)

    Funny how little concern is shown by legislators about the failure of this business due to changing technology, yet it is so determined to protect those in the music and movie industry.

    • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @10:01AM (#38747300)
      Legislators would pay a whole lot more attention if Kodak gave them a couple hundred grand in "campaign contributions".
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Morty (32057)

      There is a big difference between "people no longer have a use for any of your products" and "people still want your products but have figured out how to avoid paying for them."

      • Not really. At the end of the day, in either case, technology has transformed the market.

      • The difference is in your imagination.

        People want to capture images. They used to do it by buying film and making physical photographs. Now they do it by capturing data. This sucks for businesses based on selling physical photographic materials, unless they adapt radically.

        People want to listen to music. They used to do it by buying physical records and tapes. Now they do it by aquiring data. This sucks for businesses based on selling physical media, unless they adapt radically.

        If you propose that the "cont
        • by bws111 (1216812)

          You are completely wrong. Your argument is basically 'since we have this wonderful new printing press, we no longer need authors, editors, or proofreaders'. It makes no sense at all.

          When you 'capture data' to take a digital picture, Kodak has no involvement (other than maybe patents which your camera manufacturer has already paid for). There is no need for physical photographic materials, and no legislation is going to fix that.

          When you 'acquire data' which is a song or movie, someone else is most defin

      • by kiwimate (458274)

        Would mod you up if I could.

        This is exactly it. People may (obviously in this audience do, and do so ferociously) believe that copyright infringement laws are anachronistic, but it really ought to be obvious there's a difference, as Morty neatly says.

        One situation is a company that's not adapting to legal threats to their business model. The other situation is an industry that's not adapting to illegal threats to their business model. Whether those actions in the latter case should be illegal is a separate

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        The record industry's problem was indeed similar to kodak's. The record industry used to sell physical objects that had actual value. Now they call themselves the "music industry" instead of the "record industry" and guess what? They're selling the wrong product. Their mistake was attacking Napster -- they should have used it as a conduit for selling CDs, but instead equated CDs with MP3s. Had they embraced "piracy" rather than fighting it, they would still be selling shiny disks. Nobody want to pay for som

    • Actually Kodak's destruction was helped not in a small way by government's actions [nytimes.com] preventing Kodak from diversifying their business the way they wanted to (we already had a discussion on this very topic only a few days ago here [slashdot.org]).

      The big mistake that Kodak made was staying in US and not outsourcing immediately from US and running the business the way they saw fit and moving out of the way of IRS and US regulators. Big mistake, that was not repeated by many other companies since the nineties.

    • by bws111 (1216812)

      That is just stupid. Legislation does not help if people do not want your product (film cameras). However, if people DO want and use your product, but find ways to avoid paying for it, the legislation helps. The 'products' movie studios and record labels are making are movies and songs, not little shiny disks. The fact that piracy exists proves that people want the product.

      The two things are not similar at all.

  • by MachineShedFred (621896) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @09:59AM (#38747284) Journal

    If you make products that people actually want, rather than continue gravy-training the success of the past, maybe you'll have a sustainable revenue stream.

    Sincerely,

    Darl McBride

  • Kodak vs Fuji (Score:5, Interesting)

    by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Thursday January 19, 2012 @10:16AM (#38747418) Homepage
    Fuji thrived while Kodak went bust. The Economist explains why [economist.com].
    • by bobs666 (146801)
      I like the picture: "The last Kodak moment?"
      I think I saw something like this on shashdot, since the CCD was invented at Kodak:

      Kodak Employee: I just invented the charge-coupled device and can make pictures with it.

      Kodak Employer: You bone head we make and sell film. Now stop wasting company time and and get back to work making better cheaper film products.

      Just goes to show that if you can't think out of the box, in time you will fail, Sooner of later.
      • by bobs666 (146801)
        ok it seems that the CCD [wikipedia.org] was invented at Bell labs. What a place to have worked 30 or 60 years ago. Still the two line drama is fiction, a fable. since it has a lesion to be learned.
    • It's an interesting article, but there's enough errors in it that I wouldn't trust it entirely.

  • by PuddleBoy (544111) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @10:16AM (#38747420)

    For decades, Kodak was a technology company. Maybe not 'high tech' by a slashdot definition, but their film and paper production and (at one time) optics tech was world renowned. Even today, any company, anywhere in the world, would be hard-pressed to create a production line with the tight controls that Kodak insisted on. They did ongoing research in materials and chemistry for almost 100 years.

    Assuming they stay in a slide, what becomes of all that tech? Will the patents just get distributed to the highest bidders? And will the tech ever get used again?

    OK, so I'm labeling myself as a throw-back to earlier times, but it is sad to see any venture, that attained such a height, brought low and then just ... dissipated.

  • by ios and web coder (2552484) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @10:31AM (#38747546) Journal

    I work in the digital imaging industry, and have long interacted with Kodak engineers and digital imaging people.

    Many years ago, at a FlashPix [wikipedia.org] conference (anyone remember that chestnut?), I remember talking to a digital imaging manager, who told me that his efforts to promote digital imaging were being deliberately sabotaged by higher-ups, who had thrown their lot in with film, and were seeing none of "this new-fangled digital imaging" stuff.

    At that point, I knew that Kodak was screwed.

    This is really sad. Kodak should have ruled the industry.

    It is an object lesson in that phrase Stuart Brand coined: "Once a new technology rolls over you, you are either part of the road, or part of the steamroller."

  • Back in the 80's Kodak had it hooks into a ton of different industries: medical, chemical, government, printing. Then someone 'smart' decided that some of those divisions weren't as profitable as the film production (which has RIDICULOUS profit margins). So, rather than continuing to expand, they decided to consolidation to squeeze out more profits.

    Over time some of those divisions did die (copier divisions), but others thrived (Eastman Chemical). Kodak gambled their future on the continued sucess of fil

  • by NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @10:59AM (#38747870)
    The post is misleading; there is no Eastman Kodak. Kodak filed for bankruptcy. Eastman is doing fine - http://www.eastman.com./ [www.eastman.com] They split in 1990.
  • INVENTED???? They have no excuse. Other have gotten caught up in failing to adapt to technologies that they are loosely coupled with but and some of that is at least understandable, even though we know it still shouldn't happen. However when your OWN product puts you out of business.. that is nothing short of amazing.
  • Shouldn't they merge with Duracell now?

  • Kodak is an icon and it is unfortunate that poor management and cronyism has lead to this. The company missed the boat on digital photography because they had a pair of blinders on. Upper management continued to deny the inevitable demise of chemical photography. This is ironic because RIM's CEOs made a similar mistake by denying that people would use more than a tiny amount of data per month. Poor, egotistical management has lead to the demise of both icons.
  • Karma is B*tch (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheBouncer2006 (978273) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @11:33AM (#38748214)

    Once George Eastman died Kodak began its death knell...

    Kodak for many years was not profitable the big trend in the 1990's was to Layoff and fire a bunch of fulltime workers in the 3rd and 4th quaters right around July & August (just in time to save on paying out vacation pay) and then again around November to December up to 1 week before Christmas. I know this because I watched peoples parents who worked 15, 20, 25, and 30 years at the company get pink slips for no reason. Then right after the new year 1st quater they would bring in thousands of temp workers to backfill those jobs. Meanwhile this made their stock float and made them look profitable since a company profits are determined by sales - costs . So by lessing the payroll they more or less fudged their profitability for years. Look back at all the layoff annoucements they always happened in the 3rd and 4th quaters of the year just in time to give the stock a bounce in the new year.

    Additionally Kodak workers in the Rochester are were very loyal they bought only Kodak Cameras and anything else that was Kodak. Years ago they had employee suggestion boxes where if employees made a suggestion that benefitted the company, a refinement to an assembly line, a better way to product something, a new product an employee could write in the suggestions and in turn if it helped make the company more money by cutting costs or creating new streams of revenue the employee would see a percentage bonus in their pay based on the amount of money that idea generated. I know many people whos parents and grandparents got monetary awards from this program. However by the 1990's Kodak managers would just take your ideas as theirs and the monetary award system was ended. They became greedy

    Also over the years within a few square miles of Kodak Park was a cluster of kids coming down with rare cancers, http://www.nytimes.com/1998/03/02/nyregion/rochester-parents-fret-and-sue-over-cancer.html [nytimes.com] This is also a MUST READ http://www.coldtype.net/Assets/pdfs/17.Nim.May27.pdf [coldtype.net]

    in this same area people were reporting strange odors, animals becoming sick and dying, weird residue on their cars and homes, and odd fluids seeping up in their basements. One of the famous areas was Rand Street. Kodak was sued and they ended up paying out an undisclosed amount to owners of some of the Rand Street Homes. Kodak was sued multiple times for illegal dumping, fined multiple times by the EPA for being out of compliance with their factory exaust stacks. However the EPA was up and down with them while they went against them on some things they backed them on others. It wasnt until the 1990's the EPA started cracking down on them. Prior to that they turned a blind eye to what they were doing.

    However they still continued to pollute the rochester region. Eastman Chemical which was part of Kodak until spun off had experimental chemicals inside of it that no one even know what they would do if they ever escaped the drums they were being stored in and because they were deemed "experimental" they did not have the same precautions and established handling procedures as known chemicals which carry MSDS sheets etc. Toulene, Benze, TCE you name it they had it.

    The management became a complete joke you had managers managing managers, managing managers they made the same mistake that Xerox did. Too many inexperienced or burned out chiefs and not enough Indians. The 1990s caused part of this issue with the EOE b.s. many times fully qualified caucasian workers were passed up for job promotions, management positions and so forth especially males. If you were Latino, African American, or Asian or had a certain sexual preference you would get promoted to the top in no time even if you didn't knw how to do the job or have a college background or experience in it. Xerox did the same thing. They were both paranoid of dis

  • that say about home video recorders in the next, let's say, 5 years? All those hi-def video recorders at the big box stores...gone with the wind. i hope that companies get their heads out of the sand.
  • own invention. So obviously we have Kodak. Anyone else? And if there is anyone else, is there a pattern?
  • making printers to stem falling profits

    does this mean they're going to start printing money?

All life evolves by the differential survival of replicating entities. -- Dawkins

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