How Kodak Failed

This article by Chunka Mui explains the reasons Kodak’s overwhelming success as a film camera company did not translate into success in the digital world. Even though the digital camera was first invented by Steve Sasson, an employee at Eastman Kodak, the emergence of the digital age contributed to a decline in sales and ultimately fear that the company would go under. The reason the Eastman Kodak was adversely affected by the emergence of the digital camera and digital age in general was not because it caught the business administers off guard, but rather they saw what was coming and simply did not adequately prepare for it.

There is some explanation as to why Kodak was stubborn in continuing to create products that used film, instead of embracing the digital camera and using it to get ahead of the competition. Their competition at this point was Fuji film based in Japan. Even Kodak’s newer products with digital camera capabilities still required film because “Kodak was in the photo film, chemical and paper business.” This begs the question as to why Kodak didn’t just simply convert almost totally to manufacturing and designing digital cameras if they had the capability to do so. They lost money when they forced people to still develop film but wrote off the costs of doing so to encourage people to continue using their film and cameras.

This article describes how the resistance to change what has brought success in the past can hinder any progress or success in the future. The CEOs who loved traditional film almost drove the company into the ground should have been demoted or fired for resenting new progressions and changes in technology. Mui is critical of the CEOs but very admiring towards Vince Barabba and his “decision loom” because it is all about having an adaptable business and being open to change and using new methods.


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