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Kodak Lagging in Digital World 335

Posted by michael
from the times-they-are-a-changin' dept.
mattmcal writes "Wired reports on the Kodak's struggle to survive and Mark Glaser comments on their demise at The Industry Standard saying that Kodak failed to take digital photography seriously, or at least failed to find a way to successfully transform their business. The Photo Marketing Association reported that in 2003, digital cameras outsold analog. Kodak's stock has been hovering near its 20-year low. Finally, today, the Asian Business Times reports that billionaire Carl Icahn sold all his shares saying the current business model there doesn't work."
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Kodak Lagging in Digital World

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  • They had this coming (Score:5, Informative)

    by shione (666388) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @05:12AM (#8348273) Journal
    charging exhorbient prices for a camera dock which didnt work on different model kodak cameras when you upgraded. Compared to the others which charged a much more fairer rate for accessories which reflected their value/build quality, it comes as no surprise their marketshare is so low.
    • But remember... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by _PimpDaddy7_ (415866) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @09:00AM (#8348795)
      They have patented CMOS technologies that are used in MANY digital cameras from different companies.

      I wouldn't say they are finished. Their most recent cameras are pretty nice quality.
      • Re:But remember... (Score:3, Informative)

        by mblase (200735)
        I wouldn't say they are finished. Their most recent cameras are pretty nice quality.

        Perhaps, but I was reading the reviews of different cameras before I settled on my digital Canon. The consensus was that Kodak's digital cameras, at least as of last year, aren't quite on par with Canon's or Nikon's where picture quality is concerned.

        Kodak was founded on the premise of easy-to-use photography, and they tried to continue this trend with camera docks that download your photos and charge the camera at the sa
    • they can make it back...

      the market is flooded with low end low quality cameras.

      make something that is very like the Canon Rebel digital for $699.00 street price can use cheaper nikon or pentax lenses and they will outsell everything else and they will never be able to keep up with demand.

      the canon rebel is awesome, but it will only use high-price lenses making it pretty much out of reach for the common joe-photog wannabe. If I can use $150-$390.00 lenses instead of the canon $500-$5000.00 lenses I'd buy
      • Well just last week I purchased a digital camera. I was in the market for a camera in the price range of $200. I went to Frys and saw a Kodak [amazon.com] and Canon [amazon.com]. I asked the sales clerk (more knowledgeable than most) which camera is better and he flat out said the Canon. He trashed the Kodak camera. Said it had less features and that its accessories are more expensive. He basically said the Kodak is all fluf. This can't be good for Kodak!!! Needless to say I bought the Canon and I am absolutely happy with it.
  • alas tis true (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrLint (519792) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @05:12AM (#8348275) Journal
    I have an old family friend that works as a chemist as Kodak and as i recall its been hard times for a while. For ages of course Kodak's bred and butter has been film and associated chemicals. With the masses switching and of course the long standing competition there is just less and less pie to go round.

    Of course on the flip side Kodak does have some good r&d, and with the future of OLEDs and such there may yet be a future.
    • Re:alas tis true (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Aurix (610383) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @06:58AM (#8348511)
      Wouldn't it make sense to make a business model of producing physical copies of these digital photos?

      I mean, somewhere or other, everyone wants a decent glossy copy of their perfect digital photos... Kodak just needs to really tap into it.
      • Re:alas tis true (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Czernobog (588687) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @09:28AM (#8348891) Journal
        This means changing what Kodak is about. It's not changing your "business model."
        At least, if I got you right, you expect Kodak to either get involved in home printing -and they're going to challenge Epson/Seiko and all the other heavyweights how exactly?- or professional printing, which of course has its heavyweights too.
        What Kodak need to do is either do some heavy R&D and convince consumers they need it or tap into the current market they were so aggressively almost pushed out, by employing the same (if not more) aggressive tactics.

      • Apparently Kodak is "the #1 [kodak.com] supplier of photo imaging kiosks at retail." So I think they're way ahead of you.
    • Re:alas tis true (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Spy Hunter (317220) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @07:17AM (#8348548) Journal
      I think Kodak is doing amazingly well for a company whose main product is on the way to becoming obsolete. They saw the digital photography revolution before it actually happened, and they took preemtive steps to transition their brand name into the new market. They realize that technology is fundamentally changing their entire market, and they are attempting to adapt instead of being dragged kicking and screaming into bankruptcy by the inexorable forward march of technology.

      They could have done it better, of course. Right now they are focusing on using digital cameras exactly like film cameras: making prints and organizing photos into albums for storage. Digital photography can be so much more. They should be focusing on the things that can be done better with digital photography: photo editing and distribution. They should offer a web hosting service for individual pictures or complete albums, and their camera software should come with extensive photo editing capabilities. (also it shouldn't suck quite so much). But there's a lot of inertia in a company like Kodak, and it's amazing that they've been able to adapt to changing technology as much as they have. Certainly better than some companies in other industries I could name...

  • Film (Score:5, Insightful)

    by October_30th (531777) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @05:14AM (#8348283) Homepage Journal
    With the ever increasing use of digital photography, I've become wary of the same problem that plagues digital media in general: it's so volatile.

    Properly stored original film negatives last decades, whereas digital media is gone in a blink of an eye when your harddrive/memory card breaks down or you accidentally erase your media.

    It's the same thing as with e-mail. I routinely print out all my e-mail correspondence (sent and received) these days because I've lost my mails too often.

    • Re:Film (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Digital media can last pretty long too if it's properly stored.
      • Re:Film (Score:5, Informative)

        by October_30th (531777) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @05:21AM (#8348306) Homepage Journal
        If you want to store digital media right you've basically got one option: digital tape (DLT), a tape drive and a computer that can be used to access the data.

        CD-R(W)s are a joke. I have had Plextor CD-Rs become unreadable in a couple of years they spent in a dark closet in my house. I suspect DVD-+R(W)s are even worse due to the higher data density.

        Hard drives aren't much better either.

        • Re:Film (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Funny, I have 6 years old TDK CD-Rs which work perfectly.

          Why always there is somebody bitching about difficulty in storing digital content?

          If you are paranoid then get a spare memory card, spare harddrive and in addition save data on a couple of CD-Rs. Propability that ALL of those fail simultaneously is practically zero.

          I also fail to understand HOW memory card can break if it's locked in the closet....
          • Re:Film (Score:3, Insightful)

            by October_30th (531777)
            If you are paranoid then get a spare memory card, spare harddrive and in addition save data on a couple of CD-Rs. Propability that ALL of those fail simultaneously is practically zero.

            And that's easier and cheaper than storing the original film negatives rolled up in a plastic can which are then stored in a dark, cool basement?

            Look, I am not bashing digital photography in general. It's great and inexpensive way of shooting a lot of volume. I am, however, dismayed at how it is seen as a silver-bullet for

            • Re:Film (Score:4, Informative)

              by evilviper (135110) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @07:08AM (#8348533) Journal
              And that's easier and cheaper than storing the original film negatives rolled up in a plastic can which are then stored in a dark, cool basement?

              YES! By far.

              A single hard drive can hold MASSIVE numbers of pictures. Your basement would be full of "plastic can[s]" if you had the equivalent number of pictures on film negatives.

              • Re:Film (Score:4, Interesting)

                by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2NO@SPAMgdargaud.net> on Saturday February 21, 2004 @08:34AM (#8348725) Homepage
                A single hard drive can hold MASSIVE numbers of pictures. Your basement would be full of "plastic can[s]" if you had the equivalent number of pictures on film negatives

                Then the quality of your digital images must be really poor. I have several 250Gb HD inside my PC, and some external onto USB2IDE converters as backup just to store my images. A compressed lossless PNG/TIFF of a good 4000dpi image runs 20 to 40Mb each, so that's no more than a 10 000 images. The same quantity of unmounted slides fits a few shoeboxes in my basement once they are scanned.

              • Re:Film (Score:3, Informative)

                A single hard drive can hold MASSIVE numbers of pictures. Your basement would be full of "plastic can[s]" if you had the equivalent number of pictures on film negatives.

                Pick a resolution for colour negative film? 10000 x 8000 sound reasonable? That's about 2.4E+8 bytes per picture, or 8.6E+9 bytes per roll of film, equivalent.

                With a nice environmentally-sealed box to keep your hard-drive and caddy in, it might take the same space 100 rolls of film. Maybe the hard-drive is in your computer rather than i
                • Re:Film (Score:4, Informative)

                  by timeOday (582209) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @11:37AM (#8349475)
                  Pick a resolution for colour negative film? 10000 x 8000 sound reasonable? That's about 2.4E+8 bytes per picture, or 8.6E+9 bytes per roll of film, equivalent.
                  I don't think so. At that resolution you're capturing every grain in the film, at least if it's 35 mm film. That grain is not really part of the image, it's an artifact. Kodak states [kodak.com] "(2048 x 3072 pixels) captures all the image data 35 mm film has to offer." There, we reduced file size by a factor of 12. Now, I hope you're not storing uncompressed tiffs? They'd be around half the size (depending on image) as compressed .png. That brings us to a 96% reduction from your figure. And that's without touching lossy compression - which I doubt you would touch, even though you don't mind scanning and storing away all the grain of film.

                  There's no objective way to exactly compare film/digital resolutions, but your estimate is certainly biased towards film.

            • Re:Film (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Temporal (96070)
              And that's easier and cheaper than storing the original film negatives rolled up in a plastic can which are then stored in a dark, cool basement?

              You could buy a pair of 20GB hard drives for less than $100. You could probably store at least 100,000 pictures on one and use the other one as a backup. The chance that both hard drives would die simultaneously would be about the same as the chance that something bad would happen to your negatives.

              Easier. Cheaper. Zero quality loss.
          • Re:Film (Score:4, Insightful)

            by MisanthropicProggram (597526) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @06:30AM (#8348455)
            I have a negatives of Great Grandparents. When I see digital media last that long, then I'll faith in the long term storage of digital. Also, you don't have to worry about technology compatibility with negatives. In other words, I'd be afraid in a couple of decades that I couldn't read my CD because the tech is obsolete.
        • Re:Film (Score:4, Informative)

          by ScottGant (642590) <scott_gant@s[ ]l ... T ['bcg' in gap]> on Saturday February 21, 2004 @06:38AM (#8348473) Homepage
          How long with DLT last though? What if a stray magnet (like in a speaker or something) comes around the DLT? And of course, in 100 years will there be any machines around to read the DLT?

          But negatives last a VERY long time. You could pop in a negative that Ansel Adams made 80 years ago...no dupe but the original negative...into an enlarger and make a print. 80 years from now they may not have enlargers you say? OK, make a contact print from his 4x5 or 8x10 negs.

          Digital Photography is SO much better in many regards and I know this is the future (hell, it's the present!) of photography, but I'm still wary of the long term storage of images.

          I just hope someone in the industry is working on this problem.
        • Re:Film (Score:5, Informative)

          by evilviper (135110) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @07:20AM (#8348558) Journal
          If you want to store digital media right you've basically got one option: digital tape (DLT)

          You've got to be kidding...

          CD-R(W)s are a joke. I have had Plextor CD-Rs become unreadable in a couple of years they spent in a dark closet in my house.

          I can't comment on the quality of Plextor CD-Rs, but I haven't had experiences anything like that. In fact, I've never had a CD-R fall apart on it's own... only after being handled (never touch the top) and I've been archiving CD-Rs since the first (1x) CD-Recorders came out.

          Use good quality media, put them in jewel cases. Don't double them up, don't even think about using soft cases (flexible plastic/rubber, or paper). Be careful to handle them properly. Go easy on the labeling, etc.

          I suspect DVD-+R(W)s are even worse due to the higher data density.

          You can suspect, assume, and theorize all you want, but they don't have anything to do with the facts.

          Hard drives aren't much better either.

          Umm, why not? I've never seen (nor heard of) a hard drive, unplugged, unused, going out. It's only after a very large number of hours of use that they finally die. No deathstars need apply.

          Besides, you'd be crazy to have only one copy of anything. The chances of one stationary HDD failing is tiny, the chances of two failing are nominal.
          • Re:Film (Score:3, Informative)

            by XO (250276)
            I had a huge load of Sony CD-R's that I had not recorded on, turn to useless disks after sitting in a closet for about 4 years. I have no idea if I had written to them, they would have become useless as well. It looked like there was some knid of crystallized pattern growing on the side of the disk that takes the writing.

            Also, the hard drives from my first two PC compatible computers failed miserably, while sitting there doing nothing. (granted, we're talking about a 20MB and a 30MB RLL hard drives) I
        • Re:Film (Score:3, Informative)

          by fifedrum (611338)
          kodak USED to sell CDR media with a 99 year guarantee. That is, as long as the media wasn't damaged by scratches or other overt physical problems, it would last quite a while.

          Of course, the key phrase is "used to sell". They dumped the CD media business a few years ago. I have some of these "Info-Guard" cd media and they are fantasic, still viable after 8 years, and recently burned one I discovered was blank, worked fine.
        • Oh the Irony. CD-R(W)s are a joke. I have had Plextor CD-Rs become unreadable in a couple of years they spent in a dark closet in my house. I suspect DVD-+R(W)s are even worse due to the higher data density. Thats Kodak makes it's Ultima [kodak.com] line of CD-R's for. When processed and stored [kodak.com] correctly, Kodak Ultima discs have "[A 95% chance of] 95% of properly recorded discs stored at the recommended dark storage condition (25C, 40% RH) will have a lifetime of greater than217 years [kodak.com] ."
    • Re:Film (Score:5, Interesting)

      by silentbozo (542534) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @05:24AM (#8348312) Journal
      Properly stored original film negatives last decades, whereas digital media is gone in a blink of an eye when your harddrive/memory card breaks down or you accidentally erase your media.

      Ahhh, but like all analog media, when it comes time to copy the originals in order to preserve them, you lose information. Plus, you need a lot of room, and a controlled environment in order to really take care of film.

      With digital, just keep multiple copies, and dup them, with no generation loss, as each new high-density storage media comes out.

      I'm not saying digital is better - just that you're not using the benefits of digital to your advantage. Besides, it's kind of hard to erase write only media (ie, CD-Rs or WORMs, if you're really paranoid.)

      Ironically, Kodak recently came out with a write-once storage unit for digital information (meant to safeguard data against tampering, by generating a read-only version) by using film...
      • Re:Film (Score:3, Informative)

        by ashot (599110)
        Write-Once-Read-Many technology used in many applications for because of the integrity of the data and the accepted legal admissibility of files stored using the technology. In the case of ?Ablative" or "True" WORM, data written to a disk is actually etched into the surface of the platter creating a permanent record. Another form, CCW WORM is based on Magneto/Optical technology. CCW achieves the WORM characteristic through special MO media that signals the optical drive not to rewrite media sectors. An adva
    • Re:Film (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Soruk (225361) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @05:26AM (#8348316) Homepage
      Very good point. I make a point of archiving my photos to my fileserver which is regularly backed up to tape, and will be put on to some CDRs (or even DVD-Rs) when I've taken enough of them.

      The huge advantage over traditional film has to be that there was a significant cost overhead with traditional photography - if a photo didn't come out as intended that was money down the drain, so I very rarely dug out the camera and used it. With digital, if the image isn't as intended then nothing is lost, you can just delete it and try again. Indeed, you can just be trigger-happy and take multiple shots and just use the best of what comes out. And, once you've archived the photos, unlike a traditional film camera, you can erase the media and use it again.

      I know this seems obvious, but recently I was talking to someone who actually didn't realise this advantage over traditional film (and he spent nearly GBP1000 a year on film and development, with that he could have a top-notch digital!)
      • l. It's more like GBP8K, which pays for eight years of film and processing for this guy. And that's without lenses (add $5K more for some good ones covering the range from 14-16mm to 300-400mm, if you want to cover 500-600mm, add $7K more).
        • by SIGBUS (8236) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @08:45AM (#8348746) Homepage
          I recently picked one up, and the image quality is astounding, even with the cheapie kit lens. If you already have Canon EOS lenses, you can use them as well. In the DSLR market, this camera is truly a ground-breaker. A few years ago, a 6.3 MP DSLR was a professional product with a $12000 price tag; now you can get one for $1000. Still more than most film SLRs, but worth every penny. Even when shooting at ISO 800, there's very little noise, and at ISO 1600, the noise level is less than you'd see at 400 with a compact digicam.

          For more on this camera, there's an exhaustive review [dpreview.com] at Digital Photography Review.

          If you have a collection of Nikon lenses, wait for the Nikon D70, which is on the edge of being rolled out. It will be in the same price range.

      • Re:Film (Score:5, Insightful)

        by archilocus (715776) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @07:28AM (#8348577) Homepage

        Indeed, photography is 10% skill and 90% luck. You need the luck to capture the moment but if you don't have the technical skill with film you'll miss your opportunity. Digital gives you more opportunities for no additional cost.

        I'm a 'good' photographer and my hit rate has gone from maybe 10% per 'shoot' (roll of film) to 50% per shoot (full flash card).

        One important point that is overlooked is I get to post-process my own pictures with digital. That way, since I know what I was trying to achieve originally, I can rescue a less than perfect picture, where some ham-fisted instant lab operator would have torched it.

      • if a photo didn't come out as intended that was money down the drain, so I very rarely dug out the camera and used it.

        My 35mm had been gathering dust for at least a year when I finally bought a digital a couple of years ago. Since then I've saved enough on film and processing to pay for the thing about 10 times over. I never print anything, because frankly the images look better on my monitor than on a standard-size print, and it's more convenient to view them that way as well.

        Meanwhile, the SLR continues

    • Re:Film (Score:5, Funny)

      by Zakabog (603757) <john@jm[ ].com ['aug' in gap]> on Saturday February 21, 2004 @05:59AM (#8348390)
      With the ever increasing use of digital photography, I've become wary of the same problem that plagues digital media in general: it's so volatile.

      Properly stored original film negatives last decades, whereas digital media is gone in a blink of an eye when your harddrive/memory card breaks down or you accidentally erase your media.

      It's the same thing as with e-mail. I routinely print out all my e-mail correspondence (sent and received) these days because I've lost my mails too often.


      With the ever increasing use of digital photography, I've become wary of the same problem that plagues film in general: it's so volatile.

      Properly stored compact flash cards last decades, whereas film is gone in the blink of an eye when your negatives are damaged or you accidentaly spill something on them.

      It's the same thing as with snail mail. I routinely type out and store all my snail mail correspondence (sent and received) these days because I've lost my mails too often.

      To quote the daily show "That was a stupid thing to say and you're a stupid person for saying it."
      • Re:Film (Score:3, Interesting)

        by October_30th (531777)
        Properly stored compact flash cards last decades

        Yes, assuming that you have a device that can read that card in ten years. The same goes for digital tapes, too. With the constant push for DRMd media players, I wouldn't be surprised if in a few years CD/DVD drives refuse to access old CD/DVD-R discs. Hell, already a few years ago I ran into a desktop Sony DVD player which refused to read CD-Rs unless they were of the Audio-variety (=more expensive due to a CD-R tax).

        On the other hand, you can always acce

        • Re:Film (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Temporal (96070) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @07:17AM (#8348550) Journal
          I wouldn't be surprised if in a few years CD/DVD drives refuse to access old CD/DVD-R discs.

          Oh, what rubbish. No drive manufacturer would put such a limitation on their drives because no one would buy them. No congress would enact a law requiring such a thing because of the obvious damage it would do to the computing industry. Besides that, moving digital data to new mediums is easy and has virtually zero risk of quality loss.

          Your post about snail-mail doesn't even make sense. Snail mail doesn't get accidentally lost at the press of a DEL-key.

          No, it accidentally gets lost because a gust of wind blew it out the window, or you mistook it for trash and threw it out, or you spilled coffee all over it, or you filed it in the wrong place in your gigantic file cabinet that you use to store e-mails. You can't very well hit ctrl+f and run a search of your file cabinet, or tell it to sort itself by sender, date, or subject.

          Also, you should get a better e-mail client. If one press of the "delete" key deletes e-mails without any sort of confirmation, then your software has some serious design issues.

          Not only does digital data never degrade, but you can easily make all the backups you want. If you are really so worried about losing any of it, get a RAID-5, make tape backups, whatever. But with analog, not only is it a lot of work to make copies of 100,000 pictures, but the image quality of the copies will be less than that of the original. Hell, most analog mediums degrade even when they're just sitting in storage.

          Bottom line is, keeping digital data safe is much easier than keeping analog data safe, especially when you have a lot of it.
      • Properly stored compact flash cards last decades,

        An aside, how would anyone know this? Most ICs seem to go dead in less than a decade now.

        And why to people still cling to the mutli-decade and even century extimates on how long CD-Rs and DVD-Rs last? None of these technologies have been around on the consumer level for more than half a decade or so.
    • by blorg (726186) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @06:00AM (#8348392)
      With the ever increasing use of digital photography, I've become wary of the same problem that plagues digital media in general: it's so volatile.

      Properly stored original film negatives last decades, whereas digital media is gone in a blink of an eye when your harddrive/memory card breaks down or you accidentally erase your media.

      That's why we have this handy thing called *backups*, something that is impossible with analog media (you will always have generational loss).

      I have documents sitting on my laptop from the mid-80s and due to this sterling innovation of lossless copying I have never in all that time suffered a serious data loss. Every time I get a new computer, anything of importance moves across, and is stored at a minimum on two seperate hard disks and optical media also.

      It's also a great advantage to be able to manage all of my digital information easily, and in one place. By contrast, I have both lost and damaged many negatives from only the last few years. Through my negligence, I will grant, but this never would have happened if they had been digital.

      There is nothing inherent in digital media that makes it more volatile than analog media, and indeed the fact that it is digital, and thus allows perfect copies, makes the media ultimately irrelevant.

      • "That's why we have this handy thing called *backups*, something that is impossible with analog media (you will always have generational loss)."

        Correction: some people have backups, occasionally. Almost always not when their camera fails though. Backups are one of those things which are always touted as the advantage of digital media, without realising that they're hardly ever used, or that when hard-disks fail, the backup is 2-months old because nobody believes that it will happen to them.

        If photographi
  • by ajagci (737734) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @05:28AM (#8348322)
    Yes, film is pretty much doomed (except for niche applications). But Kodak has seen this coming and started preparing in time. I think among old companies that needed to transform themselves, Kodak has been doing pretty well: their digital camera lineup is decent, they have done some nifty stuff with OLED, and they still have lots of non-consumer products that probably make them money. They also were one of the first companies to actually sell digital cameras widely. Kodak isn't a hot company, but give the guys a break on this one--they haven't been blind and they have been trying to go for the new market.

    What is really dragging Kodak down is their brand name--some companies have a brand name that stands for innovation, and they can put out any kind of garbage and people will think it's the latest and greatest thing. Kodak, on the other hand, can put out a really nifty digital camera and the stale odor of photographic fixing solution clings to it in the mind of buyers (yes, including my own).

    • by sweede (563231)
      What is really dragging Kodak down is their brand name--some companies have a brand name that stands for innovation, and they can put out any kind of garbage and people will think it's the latest and greatest thing. Kodak, on the other hand, can put out a really nifty digital camera and the stale odor of photographic fixing solution clings to it in the mind of buyers (yes, including my own).

      I work in the Printing industry, when i think of Kodak i think of Absolute Quality. Kodak has many products that ma

    • Kodak is like IBM, in that they spend oodles of money on R&D and have one hell of a patent portfolio.

      Also, they have tremendous market share in current digital photography infrastructure, in the form of all those printing kiosks in Walgreens.

      Further, they have the brand and mindshare.

      Okay, some of the above are viewed as 'bad' by the twinks who hang out on Slashdot. But Kodak knows what they're doing, and they're gonna hold onto the market.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      No, what's dragging Kodak down is their own bloated internal weight. Trust me when I say I know of what I speak. I've worked there in software for the past 10 years.

      They do have some really cool R&D -- I daresay they probably invented a lot of the tech for digital photography years before anyone else had it.

      However, with all the "downsizing" that they have done in the past, it's stripped away all the people that have a clue, first in the marketing, and now down to the development areas. Anyone left
  • by Reinout (4282) <reinout@vanrees. o r g> on Saturday February 21, 2004 @05:29AM (#8348325) Homepage

    A 1942 book by Joseph Schumpeter (excerpt here) [ucsb.edu] provides some background info on this.

    [Capitalism] incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism. It is what capitalism consists in and what every capitalist concern has got to live in....

    The idea is that capitalism and innovation are almost linked. By doing something better, handier, cheaper, you can make more money than the other companies. So there is an incentive to do something new.

    Seen over a long time, the biggest threat for companies is not so much the competition in the existing market, but the landslide next year when something entirely new just chops down existing, nicely ordered, markets.

    Digital photography is such a "creative destruction" development. Suddenly the demand for ordinary kodak camera rolls drops down. Not even the best product in it's category will sell really well when the entire market moves to different products. (Kodak is not just camera rolls, also photographic paper etc, but this is the general idea).

    An historical analogy: the dreadnought [dreadnoughtproject.org] was the first all-big-gun battleship, completed in 1906. Great Brittain and Germany (and others) were engaged in a huge shipbuilding arms race. A lot of "ordinary" battleships were being build (one year later they were called "pre-dreadnoughts"...). That one single first dreadnought, prototype of the modern battleship, made every single fleet on earth obsolete. Brittain and Germany effectively had to start from scratch, 0 vs. 0. (Or, more rather 1 vs. 0 :-) Talking about creative destruction...

    Reinout

    • An historical analogy: the dreadnought was the first all-big-gun battleship...

      The example of the dreadnought does not illustrate Schumpeter's thesis but in a way contradicts it. A dreadnought is indeed a "creative destruction" development but national rivalry produced it, not capitalism.

      Capitalism will only employ creative destruction in a competitive situation. Monopolies, which are one possible outcome of capitalism, often stifle innovation.

      Maximizing return on capital is the essential fact about capit

  • by Kunt (755109) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @05:29AM (#8348326)
    Any company that is large enough and is run by economists and overpaid suits long enough will inevitably run aground. This happened to Polaroid in the 1990s and IBM in the '80s, and indeed to Apple some ten years ago. It will probably happen to Microsoft one day soon. Today, the success or failure of a company is the focus it puts on technology, and the transformation of that technology into stuff they can sell. The masters at this right now are Apple, Canon and Sony, and yes, Microsoft. Many other major companies just don't have a clue.

    • Actually, Microsoft is not a technology company. Rather it is the "Standard Oil" of software.
  • by advocate_one (662832) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @05:29AM (#8348327)
    forgot to hit the market with high quality photo inks and papers for use in printers until it was too late...

    the printer manufacturers got their act together first... after all... when faced with the choice of the right paper and cartridge for your photos, you go for the printer manufacturer's first...

  • What a crock... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ffsnjb (238634) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @05:30AM (#8348329) Homepage
    How can someone claim that the company with the largest CCD on the market, the company that holds all the patents on the display tech that you will have on your desk in the next five years, has an ever increasing segment of the health imaging market and still sells more motion picture film (while quickly converting theatres to digital) than everyone else on the planet, combined, be lagging in the digital world.

    I hear all this garbage talk from critics, but it just doesn't make any sense. The fact of the matter is, EK is doing just fine transitioning from consumer film to consumer digital sales. IIRC, they sold more consumer digital cameras than anyone else did last year. EK knew consumer film was dying before the world did, considering they invented the CCD.

    Blah... Everyone says that EK is dying, but I'm working overtime this weekend... HAH!
    • Re:What a crock... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by joe_bruin (266648) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @05:58AM (#8348388) Homepage Journal
      EK knew consumer film was dying before the world did, considering they invented the CCD.

      i believe the ccd was invented [bell-labs.com] at bell laboratories, not eastman kodak.
    • Re:What a crock... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Zakabog (603757)
      How can someone claim that the company with the largest CCD on the market

      Sure the CCD is large but the image quality blows compared to any decent Digital SLR, actually all of their cameras quality blows.

      the company that holds all the patents on the display tech that you will have on your desk in the next five years

      I didn't know they had patents on my CRT monitor, I should look into that but I'm too lazy right now.

      has an ever increasing segment of the health imaging market and still sells more mot
      • How can someone claim that the company with the largest CCD on the market

        Sure the CCD is large but the image quality blows compared to any decent Digital SLR, actually all of their cameras quality blows.


        uhm, no. Kodak DOES have the largest CCD [dpreview.com] available and the quality is pretty much superb, even if they do only sell 2 a year at 28,000$!
    • by Alomex (148003) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @08:28AM (#8348711) Homepage

      And that is exactly the type of denial that has Kodak trading at a twenty year low.

      You must be a manager.

  • Kodak, while acting like a bit of a lumbering giant, has the resources to tranform itself into a digital imaging giant. I think it has taken a "wakeup" call for the mangement team to understand that it is time for wholesale change. I see them moving into digital printing in a very big way online and via kiosks in stores, malls, etc. I also think that they will find a niche in low end digital cameras, probably of the single-use variety. There is so much that they can do with their existing infrastructure
  • by ThisIsNotKendall (742145) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @05:40AM (#8348350)
    Kodak does have other non-consumer markets. I read today that my hometown hospital is converting all their old film based x-ray equipment over to Kodak digital stuff. Maybe not super profitable but they certainly aren't dead.
  • by evilviper (135110) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @05:49AM (#8348371) Journal
    The one thing Kodak has, which I haven't seen from any other company, is kiosks in drug stores that will take any digital media (CompactFlash, SecureDigital, Memorystick, CDs, etc) and for about 30 cents will print out a 3x5 picture.

    Solid ink (wax), and color laser printers require quite a large investment ($1,000+). Quality inkjet printers cost $100+, and ink is notoriously expensive. Not to mention problems with ink spots, clogging, etc.

    So these kiosks are probably the best thing to come along for those that don't do a huge ammount of printing, but want a few digital photos in a good quality, physical form. So, that's one place where Kodak has a foothold in an up-and-comming market, and could continue to expand on it for a while (different size prints, etc). No other companies appear to be taping this potentially major market, so they've got a good position. It may not completely make up for loss of film sales, but it is a good money maker, and they should be able to live off of that for quite a long time.
  • by advocate_one (662832) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @05:55AM (#8348385)
    someone comes out with a concept that makes your razor blade obsolete... the same thing has happened with Kodak and Polaroid... they only made their cameras to sell film, paper and chemicals. After all, you buy one camera but buy lots of film and chemicals/paper (when you get it processed even if with a one hour lab)... they just didn't react to the new paradigm that rendered complex proprietary film and chemical processes obsolete...
  • by thrill12 (711899) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @06:44AM (#8348486) Journal
    ...I bought one by Kodak. Why ? To this date, I still wonder.
    It was one of those DC-3200 camera's [steves-digicams.com](opinion definitely not mine), which provided 1 megapixel resolution with the camerasize of a polaroid.
    After one first try, I brought it back when I found out that the batteries (AA) would only last 30 minutes. Since then, I regarded Kodak in the digital camera business for what it proved to be to me: crap.

    My second camera was a Fuji A-101 [steves-digicams.com], which was a lot smaller, more power-friendly, and gave me a lot of pleasure for my money. I stayed with Fuji ever since.

    Kodak indeed can't hack it in the digital age. I would say to them: put up with it, or .....
  • They knew (Score:3, Interesting)

    by thogard (43403) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @07:06AM (#8348528) Homepage
    November of 2000 I was in a plane flying from Tahiti to Auckland and the people sitting next to me had been there for a sales conference dealing with film. I was taking picture of the islands [abnormal.com] and coral heads we were flying over. The woman introduced herself and said she had just been to a conference and asked me how many rolls of film I used on my holiday. I told her I didn't use and and and pull the memory card out of the camera and said I it took like 300 pictures and I had six more. She wasn't happy with that answer.
  • I bought a Kodak DX-3215 digital camera 2 years ago. It's a peice of crap. The box claimed to take AA batteries, but they don't work properly. You need to purchase Kodak's proprietary batteries.

    The outcome of this poorly thought out money raising idea alienated the customer (me) and I probably won't buy Kodak again.

    But the bigger story is what's interesting; Digital cameras have made Kodak's traditional business of selling film and ancillary products/services obsolete. As technological innovation speeds u
    • by Pelerin (33247) <rru@pelerin.LAPLACEnet minus math_god> on Saturday February 21, 2004 @07:34AM (#8348606)
      The box claimed to take AA batteries, but they don't work properly. You need to purchase Kodak's proprietary batteries.

      That's a revealing quote, and is the big reason behind Kodak's troubles for a long time, way before the advent of digital photography.

      A couple of decades ago, Kodak was king of the market with its InstaMatic camera. It was widely popular, but the film cartridges it used were propietary. This meant Kodak had a lock on the market, and they made billions.

      Then, 35mm SLRs became available to the masses. 35mm film had a slightly larger negative size than Kodak's film, which gave it higher quality. More importanty, 35mm was not a propietary technology so the film worked with cameras from any number of manufacturers, and the film itself could be made by anyone.

      Kodak could not, or would not, adapt to this situation; and they've been looking for the next InstaMatic ever since. Next thing they tried was 110 film: smaller negative size, and still propietary. Serious amateurs, and pros, didn't go for it.

      Then came several other films (like clockwork, every couple of years during the 80s there'd be some new "system" from Kodak with a new film format). The last one was, I believe, Advantix. The theme was always the same: Kodak wanted again to lock-in consumers with propietary films, and 35mm users weren't buying.

      So all Kodak cameras since the InstaMatic have flopped. And thanks to open competition, they got their clocks cleaned on 35mm film by the likes of Fuji, etc.

      So this is a company who still thinks it can capture significant segments of the imaging market by introducing propietary technologies. In the digital market it's obvious to the Slashdot crowd that won't work; but the point is, in conventional photo it also had not been working for a l-o-n-g time and Kodak cannot, or will not, see that. They are still looking for the next InstaMatic and that's going to kill them eventually. The company is still so huge that it will take some time for it to die off, but unless they change their whole philosophy, they'll be gone.

      • Kodak could not, or would not, adapt to this situation; and they've been looking for the next InstaMatic ever since. Next thing they tried was 110 film: smaller negative size, and still propietary. Serious amateurs, and pros, didn't go for it.

        Serious amateurs and pros were never the market for these cameras. The average person wants something that is cheap, easy to use, and produces images of reasonable quality. That's been the market for Kodak cameras since the beginning of the company. If you wanted a

      • by macwhiz (134202) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @10:01AM (#8349000)
        The last one was, I believe, Advantix. The theme was always the same: Kodak wanted again to lock-in consumers with propietary films, and 35mm users weren't buying.

        You might want to get your history straight on that one. The Advanced Photo System (APS) was jointly developed by Kodak and Fuji, along with camera makers like Canon, Minolta, and Nikon. Kodak's APS products sell under the Advantix brand name. That's hardly proprietary.

        I think APS was an attempt to stave off digital photography. The companies involved realized that 35mm point-and-shoot cameras are frustrating in many ways.

        APS attempted to address the limitations of 35mm for point-and-shoot users. No threading the film -- it's in a drop-in cartridge that self-loads. No negatives that need to be handled with care -- they come back in the film cartridge. You get index prints. You can have three sizes of print. On the better cameras, information about the conditions under which the camera took the photo are recorded on a magnetic data layer so the film processor doesn't have to guess what it should look like. Using 24mm film instead of 32mm allowed for less-bulky cameras, and technology developed for motion-picture film kept the pictures about the same quality as consumer-grade 32mm film.

        I think the biggest problem with APS was that the product rollout was botched. You could find the cameras, and the film... but you couldn't find one-hour developing. I was living in Kodak's home city, Rochester NY, when APS was introduced. It was months before there was a one-hour photo shop in Rochester that could process APS. Then there was one. Just one. It took a while for it to spread.

        Worse, the first "minilabs" for one-hour prints didn't include the magnetic data exchange feature. They were modifications of 32mm film processors -- APS film uses the same C-41 chemical process -- sometimes retrofit to existing machines. Without the data exchange, the photos from the more-expensive APS cameras really weren't any better than a cheaper 32mm point-and-shoot.

        Of course, people in the target market for APS couldn't care less about magnetic data exchange. They just wanted good pictures, and quick. Sure, you could get excellent pictures by sending them to Kodak processing, but in the market at the time, it was all about the one-hour photo.

        Even with mail-away processing, APS developing was at a premium. When the product was introduced, you paid a starter fee per roll, and then there was a per-print charge based on the size of the print. You could select from 4x6, 4x7, or 4x11.5 inch prints when you took the picture -- and the developer would charge a different price for each size print. You'd drop the film off and have no idea what it would cost until it came back. Eventually, developing moved to a flat-fee-per-roll system, but perhaps too late... and it was still at a premium compared to an equivalent roll of 35mm.

        APS is a good system. It's not for everyone, but for the majority of people, who just want to take the occasional photo of a vacation or family event with minimal fuss, it's very well designed. The cameras and film are great products. It's the lack of attention to the crucial last step -- developing -- that I believe killed APS.

  • Abandoning film (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sameyeam (587571)
    Kodak recently announced that next year it was abandoning traditional film cameras in (at least) north america in favour of digital & disposable film cameras. How can this not be taking the market seriously?
    • what film cameras did they have?

      think about it, did you see kodak cameras (film) at bestbuy near the olympus and fuji? no? there weren't that many (consumer type) for them to stop selling....for that to mean anything worthwhile.....
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Back in '96 I joined Kodak out of school along with my girlfriend. I'm a computer engineer, she is a chemical engineer. I was offered a much better salary than me (5% more).

    That tells you how they percieve that investing in their conventional imaging was more important that the new digital imaging.

    I left after three years. There was a constant struggle between the conventional imaging product development teams and the digital imaging ones. The conventional imaging guys were protecting their turf instead o
  • by wrmrxxx (696969) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @07:20AM (#8348560)
    Maybe Kodak can still thrive, if they successfully re-invent themselves as a provider of OLED technology [kodak.com]. They've already got a number of licencees.
  • They tried.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ZoneGray (168419) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @07:23AM (#8348563) Homepage
    >> Kodak failed to take digital photography seriously, or at least failed to find a way to successfully transform

    I have to figure they took it seriously; I just realized my first three digital cameras were all Kodaks, it was 1999 before Nikon had anything to match 'em. And my dad is still using my 1998 Kodak D260.

    But... Kodak was never a camera company, and one of the amazing phenomena is that the digicam market is dominated by film camera makers, not by technology companies or by film companies. Sony and HP have established a foothold, but only through enormous effort. Fuji has made some progress, but it's hardly comparable to their share of film sales. Other than that, it's Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Minolta.

    What killed Kodak was that they had never sold high-quality film cameras, I guess. They led the way in Digital SLR's with their early Canon-partnered products, but when Canon pulled out, it left them pretty high and dry.

    Anyway, anybody who thinks that Kodak was a lumbering giant who "just didn't get it," is just reciting lame cliches. They really were one of the early leaders in digital.
    • Re:They tried.. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SIGBUS (8236)
      What killed Kodak was that they had never sold high-quality film cameras, I guess.
      Kodak made their very well-regarded Retina series cameras up until the 1960s, but then they abandoned the market and concentrated on Instamatics. IMHO, that was a big mistake - one which they repeated twice, with the Disc cameras and the APS system.
  • by jedrek (79264) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @07:29AM (#8348582) Homepage
    Analog photography is a trinity: Camera - Film - Paper. Digital photography drops that down to two elements, the camera and the film. Kodak's main business was the film, and that's just gone. They never had a strong camera division, actually, their cameras were pretty shit. I had contact with a couple of their P&S models and went running back to my Olympus Mju. The photographers I know who are still rocking film (which is all of them, because even if they're using digital as a 35mm replacement they're still using film for medium format) have all gone to Fuji. The only thing I see people buying from Kodak is paper.

    It might be a matter of perception. Canon, Nikon and Olympus got it. They realized that digital photography is all about the camera. They were the camera companies, they capitalized on that. Kodak was just making... the stuff nobody cared about. What part of digital photography finally makes its way to prints anyway? I've never had a photo printed, just share all of them among friends via the net. Hell, even when I'm taking photos on film, I develop and scan. And of course, I'm shooting on Fuji.
    • > Analog photography is a trinity: Camera - Film - Paper. Digital photography drops that down to two elements, the camera and the film.

      > It might be a matter of perception. Canon, Nikon and Olympus got it. They realized that digital photography is all about the camera.

      Well, there's a third element that I take into consideration (you may care less if you're in the tourist point-and-shoot set, or maybe not) which is the optics. Optics are in some way keeping me in film. Like you, I shoot in f
    • by mrm677 (456727)
      Kodak 400UC currently is the best ISO 400 color negative film on the market. Combined with 160NC, 160VC, 400NC, and 400VC, I have an entire lineup of negative film that uses the same filtration settings! Fuji films are all different filtrations.

      Fuji makes good products...Velvia is still second to none. However Kodak isn't crap. With Tech Pan 35mm, I can still make a 16x20 print that rivals large-format photography. I'll compare my print, in which I used a 30-year old camera bought for $50 on eBay, ag
  • by ashot (599110) <ashot@m o l s o ft.com> on Saturday February 21, 2004 @07:43AM (#8348626) Homepage
    I can't believe noone has mentined this. I don't think this is a matter so much of Kodak's failure as it is the success of Canon. In fact, despite the new huge market, all companies are having trouble competing with Canon; they have dominated the entire field, particularly in the upper end DSLR field. As was stated earlier, Kodak has primarily a film company, so it has had to scramble (due to the shrinking of the film market) to compete with other companies that were already in the business of making cameras.

  • Visit the Kodak web site to see 14 megapixel digital images [kodak.com]. The detail is amazing. You can see tiny white hairs on the faces of the models.

    Presumably, in 5 years or so, cameras with this resolution will be inexpensive.
    • One of my co-workers bought one of these for the department. The image quality is pretty poor, in my opinion :-(

      Samples (warning, huge JPEGs):

      test shot in the lab [ng-london.org.uk], check out the colour aliasing. This is with the in-camera demosaicing, no doubt it would look better with the PC demosaicer. It's nice and sharp, but the camera has no antialiasing filter, and it shows.

      *Terrible* photo, really boring [ng-london.org.uk], but look at the noise in the metal surfaces (straight from the camera, I think).

    • Kodak's become a bit of a joke in the pro 35mm digital community with this one I'm afraid - originally posting up some very poor (in both technique and image-quality) images in this sample page, then getting someone to hastily redo them a week or so later after,. There've been numerous firmware updates to try and fix the noise problems (as the other reply to your post pointed out) but all this's done really is weaken Kodak's reputation of not being able to get it right first time, as well as highlight *the
  • Late on the uptake (Score:5, Informative)

    by FeltTip (203551) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @08:48AM (#8348756)
    I'm a former Kodak employee. Kodak will be facing hard times for a number of years, but I think what people forget is that most of the bad press they are getting is because they cut their divident by 3/4 so they can reinvent themselves. All of the people who owned stock are incredibly pissed, and every analyst will never give a positive review of a company who does this, probably because they are heavily into that stock.

    Kodak will probably turn it around, because 5 years too late they realized what digital will mean. Executives at Kodak were so far behind that all employees were laughing when they were still talking about film not going away.

    That said, Kodak is finally realizing that it needs to turn things around. The company will be much different in 5 years, but they are so far behind with their organizational structure drastic measures need to be taken.

    Anyway, so what does Kodak do when it is trying to evolve into a technology services company rather than a manufacturing company? It lays off hundreds of young, agressive, future-minded people like me who are steeped in technology and keeps the slew of white-haired oldsters incapable of realizing what real change is about.

    So the old time corporate culture of the good old boy's club still exists, and the company won't move on until the morons at the top realize this. Dan Carp (CEO), you better get your crap together.
  • Cheap photo printers.

    How about a $150 with $30 color cartriages?
  • by SillyKing (720191) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @09:28AM (#8348893)
    I bought a cheap Polaroid digital camera just to see if I would use one. This was about 6 years ago. I used it a lot of documenting things at work (wiring closets, server locations, wire runs in walls before they were finished so you knew where they are and the like). I have since bought a slightly better one, again, not very expensive, but there are a lot of things I can't use it for. So I find myself wandering around with my Pentax 35mm and all it's lenses and adapters, as well as the digital camera and a bunch of batteries. The digital just is not very good at indoor distance shots, such as weddings or museums. And I can't adapt it to my telescope like my 35mm, or take good distance shots as the optics just are not as good as the 35mm ones I have yet. It's good for small room shots, and close by outdoor pictures, and I use it much more than the 35mm for those situations, as it's simply more convienent. Someday, I hope Pentax (or some other company) will make a digital camera body that allows me to use my existing Pentax lenses, filters, and assorted adapters. Nikon already has this exact item (around $1500 USD if I recall) that allows you to use all your existing 35mm optics on digital format. Well worth the $1500 if the photographer has a considerable investment in his 35mm gear. When this arrives more for the masses allowing other brands to do the same, then digital camera will be the king of my home. I do agree, digital cameras are very convienent (as long as you like rechargable AA's), and I can easily share pictures with any family member with a computer and a ISP, or simply mail a CD. SillyKing

  • Kodak is a superb innovator and without them the market cannot survive, it isn't competition that is killing them or market changes, its PIRACY!
    People all over the net are trading in online photos that should be printed off using Kodak processes, these criminals are killing the market which everybody benefits from. Since people are ignoring kodak and seeing it as a fight against the fat cats and big business, kodak will now be pressured to speak to their concerned congressmen and pass laws prohibiting on
  • by jht (5006) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @10:10AM (#8349032) Homepage Journal
    Back in late 1991, I was working for a now-defunct Mac reseller, and I specialized in imaging sales/support. At that time, digital cameras were something everyone said were coming, but hadn't hit the market yet (with a few extremely high-end exceptions). I spoke on the state of the market at an ASMP [asmp.org] regional meeting that fall about it, and a guy from Kodak was there. He brought their (then) brand-new Kodak DCS for us to see. It used a Nikon 8008 body with a digital back, attached by cable to a box with the hard drive, battery, and all the electronics. It cost around $10k and was just hitting the market then.

    Later, in 1992, I went to work for an ad agency. We did a lot of food and product photography, and the cost/time lost to conventional film was really difficult. The nearest pro lab was about 10 miles up the highway, so we had a minimum of 2-3 hours for turnaround.

    Then Kodak came out with the DCS 200 - all the features of the DCS in a single device - no tether. Sure, it was kind of flakey - the SCSI connection was prone to problems, the color balancing wasn't great, and the Photoshop plugin was awful, but I bought one. It cost nearly $10k as well.

    Over the next year or so, we bought four more. And the speed difference helped us get so much business that all those cameras were occupied 10+ hours per day. We exploded in size and revenue, driven by what digital cameras could do even then. Later, we bought a couple of Leaf medium-format models for high-end work, but the Kodaks were the bread and butter of the company even a couple of years ago - years after I left.

    The company that built those cameras - if you didn't catch it before, was Kodak. They saw the promise of digital photography in the media and pro markets way ahead of virtually everyone. You still see tons of their pro gear at any sporting or news event. The thing that Kodak is struggling with is the consumer market transition, but I think everyone in the film business is struggling with it as well. It's happening much faster than most people (myself included) ever expected.

    I certainly wouldn't bet against Kodak succeeding, though. They may not look like quite the same company when it's over, but they'll still probably be the same relative to the new market that they were in the old one. In the digital world, you still need to print and archive your work, and that's where a lot of the profit can lie. There's also still a film market out there that can be milked for years to come, and a graphic arts business that they can keep servicing, too.

    Of course, I believe anything that the Standard has to say. Didn't they go out of business a while back, too?
  • by macwhiz (134202) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @10:12AM (#8349035)

    The biggest thing that Kodak has going for it right now is the name "Kodak." It's synonymous with photography. Everyone knows what a "Kodak moment" is. There's no such thing as a "Fuji moment" or an "Olympus moment."

    That said, Kodak hasn't leveraged their name very well. They were slow to produce an inkjet paper for photos. "Printed on Kodak paper" has long been a focus of their advertising as a source of quality. Getting a slice of the home consumables market should've been a no-brainer, but I think they waited too long on that one.

    What's worse is that they waited way too long to get into the digital "film" market. It was just last month that I first saw a Kodak-branded memory card for sale at a local drugstore. That should've been a total no-brainer. For anyone over the age of 40, given a choice between a brand you'd never heard of, and Kodak... which memory card would you buy?

    Heck, they let Lexar get away with trademark dilution. For a while now, Lexar has been selling their memory cards in Kodak-yellow packages that are about the same size and shape as a Kodak retail film box. It confused me a little when I first saw it... a less technically-astute and observant person might easily think it was a Kodak product.

    Others have commented on Kodak's "Gillette model" business plan, making money on the consumables. There's still money in digital consumables. Kodak's brand name should give them a huge chunk of the market, if they don't muff it up. So far, they've conceded that market by default, I think...

  • by Natchswing (588534) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @10:27AM (#8349137)
    With Kodak's business model failing expect to see a round of lawsuits in your future. Did you take a digital picture without paying your royalties to the Film Industry Association of America?

    Remember, photographers need that income generated by you using their artwork. Everytime you take your own picture you're effectively robing from another professional film photographer who could have taken that shot for you and charged you for it.

    P2P networks are notorious for allowing pictures to be traded illegally. When you use your digital camera to take a picture of a tall building you're commiting piracy. Since that angle has surely been photographed by someone else in the past you are killing their lively hood.

    Expect new laws to be passed where taking a digital picture of a building is a $280,000 fine. That one gig flash card you're toting around with pictures of your feet could cost you millions of dollars in fines to the FIAA.

    Taxi drivers will be fined for having pictures of their children on the dashboard - that's an unauthorized broadcast! Twelve year-old girls that take pictures of themselves dressing up like whatever pop idol they like can be sued for every piece of candy they get until they're 34. Grandmothers with pictures of their grandchildren!

    I advise everyone to go pull out their film cameras and take some pictures. If the FIAA feels threatened they'll sue everybody. If they FIAA falls apart then there will be no more pictures in the world.

    Expect Apple to open up an iSee store selling DRM'd pictures (only one view per day).

  • Lenses (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nimloth (704789) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @10:40AM (#8349214)
    I've seen lenses superior to Kodak's in Cracker Jack boxes.
    As a digital camera salesman, I imagine I contribute to their bad imagine, but then again, I would feel remorse recommending any of their digital products to my customers...

    I tried giving them a chance last year by attending their special Digital Media Training last year in Montreal, and after 3 hours of talk all I'd learned was that digital Kodak technology still didn't come anywhere near film quality (both for video and photography).

    WTG Kodak.
  • Bore based films (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2NO@SPAMgdargaud.net> on Saturday February 21, 2004 @10:53AM (#8349274) Homepage
    A couple years ago there was an anouncement by a major film company (I think it was Agfa) that they had achieved a tenfold increase in film sensitivity (or it's equivalent to say tenfold decrease in grain visibility) by using bore based chemicals instead of chromium based chemicals.

    This anouncement came just at the begining of the digital photography era and seemed like a promise that digital would never reach the level of film.

    I never heard about that again (nor have I the time to google for it now). Note that it would mean a change in the 2 main processing systems (C-41 and E-6).

    More on topic, I think Kodak's spirit of innovation has been long dead. They killed their Kodachrmoe line without replacing it with quality E6 films -> Fuji took over. Every time I've found an equivalent film from another company (usually Fuji), the other has proved better. Instead of that, they started the Adventix/APS customer ripoff, starting a completely incompatible line of film/cameras (together with many other companies) claiming that it was 'better' while it was indeed half the quality at double the price.

    Also their software is garbage (have you honestly ever used a Kodak software for more than 2 minutes without looking for a better solution ?).

    I also briefly worked in quality control at a Kodak film production plant and, well... Let's skip it.

  • Kodak was prescient in developing the Kodak PhotoCD [kodak.com] standard. It was a remarkable development: Let folks drop their film rolls off for developing and get them back along with, for ~US$10, a CD of images from their film.

    But these aren't just scans, they're high resolution scans, color-corrected, in five different sizes. Sure there's the film, developing, and CD costs, but unless one is taking an enormous number of shots they're still a good bang-for-the-buck deal for the average special-event snapper.

    Not only does one get a handy digital copy, certainly far better then all but the latest prosumer digital camera models can produce, but also one needn't invest into a new camera but continue to use one's tried, true, and relatively cheap equipment already out there.

    Kodak even managed to get their PhotoCD technology put into about every CD reading device out there. Almost every PC CDROM supports PhotoCD. Many DVD players support PhotoCD. Numerous Kodak development shops can process the film and give you a CD in an hour. Even most major photo software can read a Kodak PhotoCD natively.

    So where'd the blow it? They could have shared the digital photography revolution. Kept selling film for quality and offered digital prints for versatility. But truth be told Kodak had no clue how to counter the sexy new digital cameras.

    Instead of trying to sell their system's versatility they offered it as a poor alternative. Instead of bringing in new customers lie digital cameras were they kept selling to their shrinking existing base of customers. Instead of doing a massive give-away promotion to jumpstart the whole thing they've steadfastly clung to their high prices.

    They took their eye off the consumables business and instead tried to cash in too early on the PhotoCD tech, in the process losing both markets. They've even abandoned third parties being able to make PhotoCDs any more - their last software product went off the market years ago and there's no legitimate source left.

    With folks scurrying around buying software to make VCD slideshows on often buggy players it's ironic that much of the needed tech is already working in their drives. Just the company owning it won't sell tools to use it.

    Kodak's not going under, at least not soon. Polaroid's instant film market was pretty much decimated, that and years of dreadful mismanagement did them in. (To whomever now works for the last batch of Polaroid execs - SELL & RUN!) Kodak still has a viable business. Indeed they're even transitioning over pretty well. But they could have had a much easier time of it and owned a lot more of it if they'd have played their cards right.

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