It's been a nasty decade or so for Kodak. In the last two years alone the company's "highlights" have been "lowlights:"
In December 2010, Standard & Poor's removed Kodak from its S&P 500 index. In January 2009, Kodak posted a $137 million fourth-quarter loss and announced plans to cut up to 4,500 jobs. On June 22, 2009, Eastman Kodak Co announced that it will retire Kodachrome color film by the end of 2009, ending its 74-year run after a dramatic decline in sales. On December 4, 2009, Eastman Kodak Co sold its Organic light-emitting diode (OLED) business unit to LG Electronics which resulted in the laying off of 60 people, which includes research engineers, technicians and interns. - Eastman KodakBack in September of 2011 :Bottom Line - Kodak struggles to reinvent itself for digital age
Eastman Kodak appears to be staying clear of bankruptcy proceedings for now, but time is clearly running out for the 130-year old industrial icon to reinvent itself for a digital century.But that was just blowing smoke because in January of 2012, Eastman Kodak Company and Its U.S. Subsidiaries Commence Voluntary Chapter 11 Business Reorganization And now, a year later, it seems as if it is getting a pulse, or at least a pacemaker: The Daily Docket: Judge Approves $843.7M Kodak Financing Deal - Bankruptcy Beat - WSJ
So it would seem that Kodak is getting a new lease on life, if not a renewed interest in creativity and innovation. For that it would have to go back to the future past.
If the company that calls itself Kodak today had a brain, it would copy the "Instamatic 100" from Kodak's greatest hits, drop a first rate lens in it, add some great chips, a view screen as big as the back of the camera, and rebrand it as the “Kodak Digimatic 100.” Instant win.
An Apple design from before Apple was Apple
They’ll never be cool enough to do it....
Somewhere in the 1990s, Kodak lost the ability to design and innovate. Once the king of the camera world, Kodak's now just the place where bad designs and worse marketing go to die. Today, Kodak needs a brain the same way Scarecrow needed one in the first reel of "Wizard of Oz." Like Scarecrow, there's a long brick road awinding into the land of its dreams.
It wasn't always that way. There was a time when it seemed that everyone in America owned an Instamatic. It was a camera that, in its simplicity, elegance and rock-bottom cost, was an icon of its age:
The lead designer for the Instamatic program was Dean M. Peterson, also later known for most of the innovations in the point-and-shoot camera revolution of the 1980s. The first Instamatic to be released was the Instamatic 50, which appeared in the UK in February 1963, about a month before the 100. The first model released in the US was the basic Instamatic 100. With fixed shutter speed, aperture and focus, it continued in the tradition of Kodak's earlier Brownie cameras, providing a simple snapshot camera anyone could use. It also featured a built-in flashgun for AG-1 "peanut" bulbs.
Today, the Instamatic is a vintage item on ebay and the survivors spend their lives sitting on designers' kitchen tables as Bauhausian Kitch.
I bought this vintage Kodak Instamatic 100 off Etsy a few months back and it’s been sitting on our dining table every since. Purely decorative. -- swissmiss
Of course, it doesn't have to be this way. And yet, somehow it does. Founded in 1892, Kodak conquered the world of photography with innovation followed by invention followed by innovation. But then it got old, big, and obese. And then it got older, smaller, and began wasting away. Now it's almost 120 years old and exhibits all the frailties associated with extreme age.
I suppose Kodak could come back but that would take combining something fresh and new and innovative coupled with something classic and conservative. I don't think Kodak's got the strength to get out of its wheelchair.
In a way, Kodak parallels what we see happening at the core of the Republican party and the Conservative mindset -- a sclerotic situation in which death seems sweeter than life. All it would take for the latter to thrive at this time in the history of the Republic would be "combining something fresh and new and innovative coupled with something classic and conservative." But, like Kodak, it's stuck in its wheelchair.
To paraphrase that very cool Cool Hand Luke: "What we have here is a failure to innovate."