Kodak's long fade to black.
'Like the passing of distinguished individuals, the passing of great corporations should prompt us to ponder the transience of earthly glory. So let's pay our respects to Eastman Kodak, which at this writing appears to be a shutter-click from extinction.'
'Kodak was once such a pervasive part of our lives that the "Kodak moment," defined as a personal event that demanded to be recorded for posterity, entered our lexicon.
Now when even the most private Kodak moment seems to unfold before the digital gaze of a hundred iPhones, it looks as though Kodak's moment has passed. The circle of life in business is a natural phenomenon, the lesson of which shouldn't be overlooked by companies that seem to have cemented themselves into permanent spots at the top of the world today — including Apple, Google and Facebook. The lesson is: Nothing lasts forever.'
'As late as 1976, Kodak commanded 90% of film sales and 85% of camera sales in the U.S., according to a 2005 case study for Harvard Business School. Such seemingly unassailable competitive positions tend to foster unimaginative executive cultures, and Kodak's was no exception.
Even after Fuji Photo crept into the U.S. market with lower-priced film and supplies, Kodak refused to believe Americans would ever desert its sacred brand. Complacently, the company spurned the chance to become the official film of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics; the bid went instead to Fuji, which exploited its sponsorship to win a permanent foothold in the marketplace.
Then came digital. Far from scorning the new technology, Kodak ramped up research and development to nearly 10% of sales in the mid-1980s and integrated digital features into its product lines, including video systems, scanners and photo enhancement software.
But its executives couldn't foresee a future in which film had no role in image capture at all, nor come to grips with the lower profit margins or faster competitive pace of high-tech industries. At one meeting with Microsoft's Bill Gates to discuss integrating Kodak's photo CDs with Windows, Kodak Chairman Kay Whitmore fell asleep.'