Common sense analysis of this, that and the other

A Kodak Moment

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It is common to read an article in the media and sense as someone experienced in the field* that the author is not that familiar with the subject they are writing about.

Today, the papers have been analysing what lead to Kodak filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Headlines scream to the effect, “Kodak killed by the digital photography revolution!”

Not quite. A few facts:

Kodak invented the DIGITAL camera. In 1975.

Kodak were one of the first to market with a digital camera practical for use by businesses and real estate professionals. (My employer was kindly loaned one to help with an award winning project by Logitech who branded some of the early Kodak models.)

Lake Tahoe, taken by the author in 1995 with a Logitech branded early Kodak digital camera
(The original image was 768 x 640 pixels at max resolution – huge back then!)

Kodak were the first to market with digital cameras that took good pictures. And they should know, having a background that lends them to color theory and other photography essentials – not just fancy hardware.

Kodak were one of the first to market with innovative digital cameras, such as the LS633, the first device of any type with a high resolution (even by today’s standards) OLED display, in this case on the back of the camera for previewing photos with almost (printed) photorealistic quality. They too loaned my employer a camera to evaluate for a (hardware) project requiring next generation display technology.

Circle Line from High St Ken to Notting Hill Gate

Taken by the author in 2004 with a Kodak LS633 that featured a high res
OLED display that made checking photos in camera more reliable

© 2004 Taikitso

Kodak continued to design and launch innovative cameras – including the first high quality consumer compact with a flip out display allowing you to take a photo of you good looking – without first seeking a tourist to hold the camera.

Kodak cameras are very well built and feature excellent ergonomics and control placement and labelling – unlike most others on the market that require one to be an expert in the art of finger juggling. (When you are in a hurry to capture that split second – moment – such things matter.)

So, Mr. Blogger chap, why did Kodak get into difficulties?

Unlike Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Sony, Panasonic (Lumix), Samsung and others, Kodak ceased producing high end cameras such as DSLRS, ‘focusing’ instead on compact cameras.


With the advent of mobile phones featuring cameras whose image quality matches and in some cases exceeds compact digital cameras, Kodak had no alternative product line to rely upon for revenue.
(Note, they did/do make excellent sensors, although Foveon, Fuji, Sony and Canon are now competitors. DYK that Sony make the sensors used in Nikon DSLRS?)

All the aforementioned brands (and others) produce large sensor interchangeable lens cameras that thanks to optical zooms, shot to shot speed, pro image quality, manual controls and fits like a glove ergonomics, will always be one step ahead of the best phone camera.

Very sad to see Kodak go this way, however, Chapter 11 is not the end. For in America, you get a second chance.


Update (20 Jan 2012) – There continue to be terrible bugs in WordPress (the whole entity, from the hosted service to the iOS app) has been full of mission critical failures. For example, this Kodak post has randomly changed without my input. The title vanished (I just had to re-enter it!) and parts of older versions of the post re-appear. It seems that the content management system is broken. This is embarrassing as it makes it look as though we are not editing our posts properly. It is free (although I pay for their self hosting version for work) so complaining is probably unfair, but you would think by now these long term bugs would have been fixed.


Written by Oflife

January 20, 2012 at 12:13 am

One Response

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  1. Kodak were the victims of creative destruction. Every time a new technology comes into a market the old guard struggle to adapt. It is not that they don’t see the emerging trend they just find it very difficult to divert the necessary resources towards the new opportunity. 9 out of the top 10 websites in the UK did not have a significant bricks and mortar presence – it is not that WHSmith did not see the opportunity of Amazon they just weren’t able to react quickly enough.

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