In an effort to stay afloat in these troubling economic times, Kodak is transitioning out of the digital camera industry (somewhat shocking news!). This is simply the latest in a long line of strategic steps taken by the company to remain competitive. In the current technological era we find ourselves, many companies are doing what they can to stay relevant and competitive. One of the many industries affected by the recent surge of technological advancements is photography (for various reasons).
Photography is by no means obsolete. If anything, the art form and/or hobby is more popular and accessible than ever before. Kodak has been one of the go-to brands for photographers for decades, but more recently, the company has struggled to avoid becoming obsolete. One of the primary reasons for this change in status came with the introduction of digital cameras.
Ironically, Kodak was the first company to offer a digital camera, way back in 1975. Unfortunately, and likely an incredible source of frustration for the current heads of Kodak, the company didn't invest enough time or energy in developing the technology. At the time, Kodak believed that their time and resources would be better invested in its successful film business. Apparently, the minds in charge had enough foresight to introduce digital cameras, but not to anticipate the eventual and inevitable full transition from film to digital. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and it's not as though there haven't been plenty of promised next-big-things that never took off.
In 1975, it would be hard for anyone to predict the digital age we find ourselves in today. Unfortunately for Kodak, their hesitation provided enough room for other companies to corner the digital camera market. To make matters worse, competitors like Fujifilm swooped in and undercut Kodak's film prices, undermining the time and effort they misplaced in dying technology.
Fortunately for Kodak, they have been able to keep afloat providing convenient and affordable digital printing services. The company recently filed for bankruptcy protection, but hopes to avoid that route by reevaluating their business model. Going forward, Kodak plans to expand it's online printing and order stations, which currently account for 75 percent of its business and phase completely out of the digital camera market. The transition is expected to cost the struggling company a whopping $30 million, but will eventually save them an estimated $100 million.
Kodak currently offers digital printing online, but a lot of it's printing success comes from the 100,000 plus kiosks and order stations around the country. The kiosks are conveniently located in most malls and drug stores, and are as easy to use as a photo booth. Around a third of these printing stations are capable of posting photos directly to popular photo-sharing sites, such as Facebook and Flickr. Hopefully it's not too late for Kodak to make a successful transition to the digital format. After being the first to introduce the technology, it would be quite tragic if Kodak sunk from lack of investment in the digital format.