In what will have been the news of the day for many togs, Kodak announced that they are preparing to file for bankruptcy. From comments on many forums, you’d think Kodak was dead and buried. It may look like it, but they’re only preparing, not filing. The end is not here. At least, not yet. Problem is, whichever way you look at it, it’s easy to think that they’re toast.
What will happen is anyone’s guess, but my guess is that Kodak is simply too good a brand name to pass up and there’ll be vultures in the wings just waiting to pick the corpse apart. By the look of things, Kodak are struggling to find a buyer for their digital patent portfolio, which means either there’s nothing worth having (unlikely) or the vultures are waiting until Kodak stop kicking before swooping in to buy them at bargain basement prices. I would imagine that we would see the various divisions split into separate entities, so Kodak will, I’m sure, live on, but it will be a very different beast to what it has been.
A sad footnote was added to the Reuters story…
“Kodak invented the digital camera in 1975 when one of its engineers developed a prototype that was as big as a toaster and captured black and white images. But it failed to capitalize on that innovation…”
How ironic. They pioneered their own doom. Like many tech companies, Kodak failed to remain at the forefront of digital technology and their attempts to catch up were too little, too late. (Strangely, their strategy seems to have been very similar to Fuji, who somehow managed to pull it off.)
Speaking of Fuji, they marked the day by announcing a slew of compact and bridge cameras. To say they did things the same way as Kodak is a little unfair. Fuji was proactive about keeping it’s film business alive while most people were engaged in the film vs digital battle. it also pulled a rabbit out of the hat with the X100.
It doesn’t have to be bad news either. Most photographers are starting to lament the loss of Kodak film stock, but Ilford have shown you can take a loss making business and turn it into a profitable business. The right vulture could surely do the same with a brand like Kodak, couldn’t they?