Stay Innovative to Stay in Business

By Kurtz, Ced | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), February 12, 2012 | Go to article overview

Stay Innovative to Stay in Business


Kurtz, Ced, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


The conventional wisdom is that, in business, innovation brings success.

But there is a necessary corollary: Only continued innovation can ensure survival.

An example of that emerged last week when Eastman Kodak Co., an innovator in traditional and digital photography for more than 100 years, announced that it was quitting the camera business.

Kodak entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month, and this is the first major step to restructure the company by eliminating unprofitable businesses.

Kodak, which has not been making its own cameras recently, will continue to license its brand. So while you may be able to buy a Kodak camera in the future, the only connection to Kodak will be that it is being paid for the use of its name.

While Kodak will no longer be in the digital camera, digital video or digital picture frame business, it will continue its inkjet printer line, online Kodak Gallery, photo kiosks and labs, film and photographic paper, and camera accessories and batteries.

For those who own a Kodak camera, it plans to continue to honor warranties and provide technical support.

Kodak is one of those iconic brand names that so dominated the market that its company name was its product, like Frigidaire or Xerox.

Just some of the innovations Kodak is credited with:

* The invention of roll film, the basis for motion picture film, in 1885

* Introduction of early folding cameras, pocket cameras and folding pocket cameras in the 1890s

* The Brownie camera in 1900, which created a mass market for photography

* Kodachrome, a color stock for movie and slide film (and later the title of a Paul Simon song) in 1935

* The Instamatic, an early point-and-shoot camera in 1963

* The digital camera, invented by Steven Sasson, an electrical engineer at Kodak, in 1975

* The world's first megapixel sensor in 1986

* The first multilayer Organic Light Emitting Diode in 1987.

* The world's first printer-and-camera dock combination in 2003.

In 1976, Kodak owned 90 percent of the film market and 85 percent of the camera market in the U.S. But then the company made three fatal mistakes. …

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