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What happened to Kodak? The decline of a business

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What happened to Kodak? The decline of a business

Kodak was founded as Eastman Kodak Company in September of 1888 and to date stands as one of the most outstanding and revolutionary businesses ever to have been started. With its headquarters in New York, Kodak as it came to be known ventured and majored in graphic arts, imaging technology and consumer technology and was able to have more than 100 years of success. Kodak was the holder of the top spot since time immemorial but this legacy is in jeopardy with the decline that has been experienced in recent times. So where did it all begin to unravel for Kodak? among other platforms have extensively evaluated the situation and here is an overall look.

Reviewing the start of the decline 

Kodak started struggling in the late 1990’s and the first key indicator was the decline in sales that the company was recording. The decline in sales would have been attributed to varied factors but the most notable one was the slow transition to the digital side. Kodak had experienced massive success with the film business and was ultimately reluctant to move away from what had worked for it for decades. In being slow to the eventual adoption of digital photography and printing, other companies including Fujifilm and Canon bypassed it and as denotes, playing catchup to other businesses is never a good position to be in.

The decline in performance and sales eventually led to Kodak filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 in January 2012. Even after being the first company to produce the digital camera in 1975, February of 2012 saw Kodak stop making digital cameras and pocket video cameras in favor of a different business path in order to manage its capital as well as remain relevant. The dwindling fortunes however meant that in 2013, Kodak opted to sell its patents to among others Apple, Samsung and Google. The sale of the patents ultimately meant that Kodak was able to emerge from bankruptcy in September of 2013. Authoritative sites like always advise that making a comeback is a factor of effective management and strategic development and perhaps these are the core values Kodak opted for when exiting businesses it had acquired. Kodak was also proactive in shedding liabilities to increase its stability as a business.

Why Kodak failed

Uninformed strategies

When looking at why Kodak failed, a crucial point captured by comes to mind and it spells out the major misstep that Kodak made which is that they didn’t give digital cameras and product the huge focus that was needed to make them industry leaders and pioneers. It is quite unfortunate that Kodak made the first digital camera in 1975 but ultimately dropped the project in fear that the photographic film business would suffer. This was a major mistake as it meant they were left behind when other companies brought in products that transformed the industry.

Underestimated how huge the digital market would grow

Kodak is guilty of underestimating just how big the digital market would grow. As the pioneers of digital product in the form of the digital camera, it was the prerogative of the company to run with the idea and revolutionize the idea so that they disrupt the market. Failing to follow up their digital product development with the zeal and rapid setting required meant that they exited a business path that ultimately would have raised its capital and revenue generation ventures beyond imaginable levels.

Expansions and acquisitions that drained capital

In the 1990’s, Kodak invested billions in technology for taking pictures using phones and other digital devices but pulled the plug in fear that it would stunt the growth and performance of its film business. This means that Billions of dollars were sunk for technology that wasn’t fully exploited making for investment that didn’t achieve full potential.

Lack of restructure strategies

What hit Kodak the most was a lack of restructure strategies to go with the trends and grow past the film business. Business professionals and experts at platforms like have always been categorical in noting that any business has to have a restructuring plan in order to keep with the competition and stay on the path to exponential growth. The lack of a strategy by Kodak meant that its stock plummeted to $0.54 in 2011 and an adequate recovery has never been in sight. The failure to take the wave of digital disruption meant that Kodak stagnated and also missed the chance to be the frontrunner in technology transition.   

What they did best was no longer needed

Even the manufacturing of digital cameras wasn’t a business they were really into as evidenced by the fact that they failed to fully exploit the business when they were clearly the pioneers. Film was the major business for Kodak but as digital product including cameras and devices eliminated the need for the same which rendered their core business obsolete.

Public perception

As and some PR professionals have authoritatively noted, public perception is a major factor of the success of a business. With this in mind, it is important to note that failure by Kodak to pay pension costs affected public perception and this made its shares plummet to an all-time low going down more than 80% which affected the power to do business.

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