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Which clippings match 'Fujifilm' keyword pg.1 of 1
16 JANUARY 2012

Technological change: The last Kodak moment?

"LENIN is said to have sneered that a capitalist will sell you the rope to hang him. The quote may be spurious, but it contains a grain of truth. Capitalists quite often invent the technology that destroys their own business.

Eastman Kodak is a picture–perfect example. It built one of the first digital cameras in 1975. That technology, followed by the development of smartphones that double as cameras, has battered Kodak's old film– and camera–making business almost to death. ...

While Kodak suffers, its long–time rival Fujifilm is doing rather well. The two firms have much in common. Both enjoyed lucrative near–monopolies of their home markets: Kodak selling film in America, Fujifilm in Japan. A good deal of the trade friction during the 1990s between America and Japan sprang from Kodak's desire to keep cheap Japanese film off its patch.

Both firms saw their traditional business rendered obsolete. But whereas Kodak has so far failed to adapt adequately, Fujifilm has transformed itself into a solidly profitable business, with a market capitalisation, even after a rough year, of some $12.6 billion to Kodak's $220m. Why did these two firms fare so differently?

Both saw change coming. Larry Matteson, a former Kodak executive who now teaches at the University of Rochester's Simon School of Business, recalls writing a report in 1979 detailing, fairly accurately, how different parts of the market would switch from film to digital, starting with government reconnaissance, then professional photography and finally the mass market, all by 2010. He was only a few years out.

Fujifilm, too, saw omens of digital doom as early as the 1980s. It developed a three–pronged strategy: to squeeze as much money out of the film business as possible, to prepare for the switch to digital and to develop new business lines.

Both firms realised that digital photography itself would not be very profitable. 'Wise businesspeople concluded that it was best not to hurry to switch from making 70 cents on the dollar on film to maybe five cents at most in digital,' says Mr Matteson. But both firms had to adapt; Kodak was slower."

(The Economist, 14 January 2012)

Fig.1 John Terret (03 Nov 2011). "Kodak misses the moment", Al Jazeera.

Fig.2 Kodak (1922). "Kodachrome Film Test".

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19221975cameracamera-making businesscapitalismcolour • complacency • convergence • death knell • demise • digital cameradisruptive innovationEastman Kodak • film test • FujifilmJapanKodachrome • Kodachrome Film Test • KodakKodak Eastman • Kodak moment • market dominanceobsolescenceold media • picture-perfect • product designradical innovationsmartphonetechnological changetechnological innovationtechnologytechnology innovationVladimir Lenin

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
25 DECEMBER 2007

Japanese consumer products database

"A showcase of different Japanese consumer products from the '70s, '80s and '90s, mostly, including everything from phones, radios, TV sets, audio sets, cameras to vehicles."
(Akira Ota)

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