Kodak Kills Off Kodachrome; Entertainment Industry Take Note
from the changing-with-the-times dept
Back in 1997, while I was in business school, I was working with a professor who was doing some consulting work for Kodak, and I ended up writing up an analysis and a report about what Kodak needed to do, facing the obvious coming onslaught of digital when its business had been based on analog photography for ages. We basically made the case for how Kodak could shift its focus to digital, and that it needed to get started right away. We actually got significant pushback on the analysis (not surprisingly), and it took a few years before Kodak woke up. But, around 2003, the company really started to bet everything on digital, and recognize that, as much of a cash cow as analog film represented, everything about the future was digital. So it’s quite a milestone to hear that the company is finally killing off Kodachrome, the company’s iconic color stock film.
The reports about it note how Kodak’s business is now 70% digital and the company has very much embraced the digital age. It certainly hasn’t been all smooth sailing, and some still question whether or not Kodak can really survive in this new world. Yet, the company has made the switch much more effectively than many imagined was possible, and folks there seem to live and breathe digital these days (though, there was heavy turnover associated with that change).
Still, as one reader sent in, it’s rather interesting to compare the experience of Kodak with, say, the recording industry, which is still fighting the move to “digital” to some extent. The big record labels fought every new efficiency at every turn, while Kodak quickly learned to embrace digital efficiencies and look to see where its own core skills could be applied to make them better. The record labels? Not so much. After fighting the entire concept for ages, they just handed the business over to Steve Jobs and still have done very little to see what they can do to make the digital experience better, based on their own skills and knowledge. Just as the Kodak transition hasn’t been perfect, if the labels had embraced digital and things like file sharing early on, they wouldn’t have been perfect or easy either. But the labels would be in a lot better position than they are today.