Kodak was a brand that was synonymous with cameras and photography in general. Almost everyone has an album that was either taken with Kodak film or printed onto Kodak photo paper before the digital revolution started. Kodak has now become a leading competitor in a multi-billion market. Kodak is the latest global company in a long list that is becoming out of date and a shadow of its former self. We take a look at the rise and fall of the former photo icon and giant.
The Kodak brand first emerged in 1888 and instantly started making cameras. The first camera produced by Kodak originally took round pictures compared to the more common rectangular shape today. The creation of this model was attributed to the start of amateur photography as previously the time and money it took to spend taking a photograph and the even more time developing it meant it was very costly and more expensive than many could afford at the time, and so photography was for professionals only or the rich.
Within 10 years of being founded, Kodak had already revolutionised the photography industry and had released the $5 pocket camera in 1895. Since then the sky was the limit for Kodak with record sales and innovations were a regular occurrence from the “Autographic Feature” for recording the date and time in the photo film in 1920 to introducing the first colour film in 1935. By the 1970s Kodak was 90% of the photographic film market in the USA and also 85% of camera sales including the disposable camera.
Incidentally Kodak will become masters of their own downfall when they invented the digital camera in 1975. But from the 1970s until the end of the 20th Century, Kodak continued to remain strong and was the first name when the general public were thinking about cameras because of their simplicity, affordability and innovations.
However with the digital revolution taking effect in 2000s, particularly with Kodak themselves being the creator of the digital camera, Kodak were hesitant pushing on with digital cameras, with ex Vice President Don Strickland claiming that he left the company because Kodak were afraid in launching their digital camera because they didn’t want to alienate their market or change their market strategy and focus. The result? One calamitous decision which would lead to the demise of Kodak. Since then make makes of cameras have appeared from Nikon and Fuji to Canon and Sony. Also with the increasing capabilities of mobile phones, the use of film base cameras started to decline slowly then went into free fall.
Kodak however, have been very proactive in launching their own range of digital cameras, photo software, digital photo frames, in store development booths, but it is in home printing that Kodak have been trying to resurrect their downward turning misfortunes. Unfortunately their attempts at reviving are not being met with results. Kodak will always be round but in what capacity will that be in the future?
From taking the world by storm and capturing almost every iconic image of the 20th Century on Kodak film, Kodak slowly but surely lost its place as the one-stop shop for cameras with thanks to the digital revolution and since then has brought out several new products including digital cameras and printers but its hesitance to not take the digital camera by storm when it had the chance and the impetus in the past resulted in its demise as the global leader in the photography industry today.
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