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Eastman Kodak Company

In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By rodneyrunner
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Throughout out the second industrial revolution many companies, products and services emerged and through these haze of new ideas and products a single brillant idea blossomed; pictures. George Eastman, an American inventor and philanthropist in the 1880‘s with a passion for photography had a dream.1 At the time photography was a very rare past time that only professionals had the knowledge and equipment to partake in. Eastman’s vision was to provide photography for the everyday consumer at low cost. Eastman accomplished this by starting the Eastman Dry Plate Company, which was a global leader in mass producing dry plates for many years. Within four years of of the commencement of research, negative paper was introduced and would be used for the next century. Film became so efficient and cheap, Eastman invented the first commercial camera called the “Kodak” which revolutionized the “point and shoot” concept as the world know its today. 1 The Kodak camera was so popular that Eastman decided to integrated Kodak into the company name. The newly founded and named Eastman Kodak Company in 1892 became so big they had to expand their facilities to New Jersey for access to new trade routes. This was the beginning of Kodak and the start of photography. Kodak’s history is mainly responsible for making the Kodak name what it is today. The initial products invented by Kodak like the camera and film opened doors and provided a foundation for innovation and success in the photography and developing industry. Furthermore, Kodak’s business model, although a failure, taught the world of business how to run a business. In today’s world, cameras range from expensive professional models to dollar store disposables. In the late 19th century there was only one kind of camera. It was called the Kodak and was marketed along side the slogan, “You press the button, We do the rest”. 1 Soon after, the development of roll film came along which meant that cameras could be used more than once. Before roll film, the consumer had to bring the camera back to, what is now Kodak, to be developed right away without taking anymore pictures. With the innovation of roll film, consumers could now buy film separately and put it aside when its done until they were ready to go get the pictures developed. By 1902 Kodak was selling cameras for a dollar and rolls of film for fifteen cents. 2 For the next sixty years, cameras did not evolve a great deal because in order for the camera to advance, film needed to evolve along side. Cameras started to incorporate more advanced options such as shutter speed, exposure, focus, and flash. With cameras becoming more and more advanced, the cheaper and more practical they became for everyday use by people of all ages. In 1963 Kodak created the Instamatic Camera, designed for the quick and easy use on the go. In seven years Kodak manufactured fifty million units. 3 In 1972 Kodak developed the pocket size version of the Instamatic camera and produced 25 million units. 3 Unfortunately, due to a patent complication with Polaroid, Kodak was forced to focus more on film cameras and less on instant cameras eventually resigning from the market all together. 4 At this time Kodak had become a world leader in cameras, film, and photo production. They now had over 120 000 employees, with total sales exceeded 4 billion dollars, and control of 80 to 90 percent of the industry. 3 It was at this time, during the 70’s, that Kodak would revolutionize photography forever with then invention of the digital camera. The year 1975 marks the birth year of the digital camera and the start of the end for Kodak. As the computer age came upon us, Kodak adapted well to all the new technology and innovation outside the photography and finishing industry. Kodak offered the option to sell pictures in print as usual or on a CD when pictures became digital. This way they could be viewed on a television using Kodak’s own photo CD player. 4 By 1996 pocket sized digital cameras with LCD displays built in were on the market and Kodak already saw a decrease in print sales. Between 2004 and 2006 Kodak recorded a loss every quarter loosing 2 billion dollars. 5 The roll film camera paved the path into the technology age and with the help of the personal computer, cameras became cheaper, user friendly, and sophisticated enough that someone can become a photographer for employment. Ultimately Kodak created the technology and the product that killed roll film cameras. In order for one to truly understand and appreciate the evolution of the camera one must also come to terms with the evolution of film. One of the biggest subsidiaries of Kodak was their chemistry research plants. This is where all the chemicals for film were produced as well as research for improvements in film. It was in 1889 when the first commercial transparent roll film was invented.1 With this discovery, Thomas Edison made the first motion picture camera just two years later.1 And by 1896, Kodak was commercially selling chemically coated film just for motion picture use. As for still photo film there were two different mainstream films; print film also known as negatives and colour reversal film. Print film is the film that was loaded into Kodak’s cameras that produced negative picture.1 This meant that the colours were inverted so that when developed, the original colours show up when light is shone through it. Print film could produce both colour and black and white pictures. The second kind of film, colour reversal film, is the more well known as “slides”. To view these slides a carousel projector or a regular projector is needed depending on how the imaged is finished. Most film manufactured before 1948 was chemically coated with nitrate which is highly flammable. Safety hazards and warnings were a big issue with Kodak and its development of film. After about 1950 tri-acetate safety film was introduced which allowed for a safer operating experience and increased the life of the physical film. 3 Kodak received 1 of its 8 Oscars for this technological innovation. For motion picture film one of the last evolutionary steps was film called the Vision 2 released in 2002. 6 What was special about the Vision 2 is it was compatible with digital post production systems. Kodak integrated the computer age to work with its product. This allowed production companies to have greater success with its final product in terms of quality and results. These advancements in film contributed immensely to the movie industry, one of North America’s favourite pastimes and a large revenue generator, allowing for production companies to develop such as Warner Bros. and Universal Studios. As for photo film, film became more intricate with the new features of the camera as mentioned, but with the birth of digital cameras, photo film disappeared officially in 2007. For the businesses of today business models and plans are becoming increasingly important. Markets are influenced by other markets, technology, and society so much so that short term plans will not triumph in the future. Although making money fast is good, creating a long term business plan is the route towards success. Kodak’s business model was very successful, possibly one of the most successful in retail history. A very important beneficial business decision that Kodak made was they patented their innovations. This prevents other firms from using the technology that Kodak developed without compensation. The patents have currently landed Kodak in the middle of a lawsuit with RIM and Apple over technology originally patented by Kodak but found within RIM and Apple products with no compensation being awarded. The best possible outcome for Kodak is to receive some sort of reimbursement for every unit sold from RIM and Apple. 7 The smartest business move Kodak made was to patent their technology to protect themselves, but there is another innovation that negatively affects Kodak’s industry forever; the computer. The introduction of the personal computer and the internet is something that Kodak did non take into account in their business model. Introducing technology that interferes with a firms products is called disruptive technology. For about 100 years, Kodak had a vast selection of consumer products like cameras amoung other things. Luckily for them, in the beginning, in order to produce the photos from a camera, professional developers were the only people who had the skills to get photos from negative rolls to nice shiny printer paper. This is a service Kodak is providing for consumers. Offering a service in this case is very smart because only the employees at Kodak have the equipment and the skills to print and finish consumer photos. When “photo finishing” became available in the privacy of one’s own home, Kodak’s service plan failed. The same principle applies to the film, film is a complementary good, which means as long as Kodak is selling cameras, they will sell film. When computers started to become an everyday household good, digital cameras started to become popular and film eventually died. All that Kodak has to offer in terms of consumer goods is their version of the digital camera. With so many other brands, competition is not what Kodak is used to, because they were the only provider of film and photo paper. Everyone knows to learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of others, which is exactly why companies in the photo and printing industry can look at what Kodak did right and what Kodak did wrong. A prime example is Japans version of Kodak named Fuji Film. Another firm selling film and cameras who was effected by disruptive technology. Fuji did not stand by while new technology took over. They have invested in computers and the internet in hopes for a better future, cut prices, and have taken some of Kodak’s current market share. With that being said, consumers of the new age have changed their traditional buying habits. Consumers are not as into brand loyal as before.8 Imported brands are being accepted more and more. An example would be the American and Japanese auto industry. GM and Ford are not as popular today as they once were. GM cut major car brands such as Pontiac, Hummer, and Oldsmobile, while Japanese brands such as Honda and Toyota seem like they have not been effected as much. Therefore if Fuji Film cuts prices in the printing industry and they market their products to show that they are a new upcoming, and thriving company, consumers will not buy Kodak products.8 Even the tough time the Kodak has encounter, they are showing their true colours and future plans the printing industry and according to their actions thus far there is not future for Kodak in commercial printing. Some people say a picture is worth a thousand words. For George Eastman, pictures were his life. He made a goal to provide professional level photography to the public at the lowest price possible and he stuck with it. He succeeded by creating the Eastman Kodak Company who was a world leader in cameras, film for movies and photos, and developing film. Kodak changed the photo and print industry forever by being a pioneer and introducing the world to film and numerous ways to develop it. Kodak is a very interesting company to study and could be classified as one of a kind. Not many firms can say they dominated their respective industry for about 100 years, placed on the Dow Jones stock market index for 73 years, and loose 2 billion dollars because of a new technology. Firms in the photo and print industry can learn years of experience by studying Kodak. Although not as prosperous, Kodak still exists today not producing the same products as they used to but competing to keep up with the new age technology.

Works Cited
1. Collins, Douglas. The Story of Kodak. New York: H.N. Abrams, 1990. Print.
2. "History of Kodak 1878-1929." KODAK Digital Cameras, Printers, Digital Video Cameras & More. Web. .
3."History of Kodak 1960-1979." KODAK Digital Cameras, Printers, Digital Video Cameras & More. Web. .
4. "History of Kodak 1990-1999." KODAK Digital Cameras, Printers, Digital Video Cameras & More. Web. .
5. "History of Kodak 2000-2009." KODAK Digital Cameras, Printers, Digital Video Cameras & More. Web. .
6."Broadening the Impact of Pictures." KODAK Digital Cameras, Printers, Digital Video Cameras & More. Web. 02 Dec. 2010. .
Stoyeck, By Richard. "Stock Research – Eastman Kodak and the Power of Disruptive Technologies." Buzzle Web Portal: Intelligent Life on the Web. Web. 02 Dec. 2010. .

8. Finnerty, Thomas C. "Kodak vs. Fuji." The Battle for Global Market Share (2000): 2-5. Print

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