Hasselblad Electronic Imaging
Christian Sandström holds a PhD from ChalmersUniversity of Technology, Sweden. He writes and speaks about disruptive innov...
The Swedish companyHasselblad became a camera legend when it was used in   space during the 1960s.
The following photo ofEdwin ”Buzz” Aldrin (no. 2 on the moon) and Victor Hasselblad – the founderof the company, was taken...
The Hasselblad system hasbeen loved all over the world  for its flexibility, superiorperformance and simplicity.
Headquartered in the industrial city Gothenburg, in the south  west of Sweden, Hasselblad  became a cult brand in the     ...
Believe it or   not – but    though Hasselbladwas an iconiccamera, therewere several  concernsalready in the    1980s.
The medium format segmentof the industry faced decliningrevenues already in the 1980s.
A shrinking market may in the long    run lead to increased pricecompetition, and thus lower profits.
Maybe Hasselblad should try to diversify its business in       order to grow?
In addition to this, the ’Mavicashock’ from Sony’s launch of asemi-digital camera in 1981 had    put digital imaging on th...
Even though the shift was far away, especially for high-endfirms like Hasselblad, it wouldbe unwise to completely ignore  ...
Hasselblad was a mechanical company, and it    would be quite risky to have only a competence related to coggwheels the da...
“Even though I did not believe in theMavica concept, I was convinced thatthe photo chemical film would in thefuture be sub...
”I met Sony’s CEO and the personbehind the Mavica project. It soonbecame clear that the technologyhad so many shortcomings...
But at the same time – could a relatively small  company like Hasselblad enter at this veryearly point and compete with su...
Öster discussed the issue with the R&D Manager Lennart Stålfors (who was an     electrical engineer). They both concluded ...
But what to do then?
Was it possible to learn more    about digital imaging bydeveloping applications and use   this knowledge to develop    ca...
Stålfors and Hasselblad had been  collaborating with the SpaceDivision of SAAB for a few years.
The project concerned image analysis      related to space and aircraftapplications. The outcome of this was called OSIRIS...
However, the image quality was toopoor and the price too high. OSIRIS    did not become a success.
Based upon insights from thisproject, Stålfors recognized that the   transmission of images via the  phone line was underd...
Those photos which  were sent had a significantly lowerimage quality when    they arrived.
Thus, photographers had to use their    dark rooms instead. In many applications, this time consumption       was quite a ...
Could Hasselbladdevelop a digital tele-   photo sender?
Such a product would be lighter and offer asuperior image quality   and thus, it was   compatible with Hasselblad’s brand.
Jerry Öster thoughtthis was a good ideaand the development work was initiated.
The goal was to have a working prototype readyuntil the Olympic Gamesin Los Angeles 1984. The   Swedish newspaper    Expre...
After days and   nights of hard  work, two tele-  photo scanners could eventually join Expressen’s  photographerswhen they...
It looked like this:
The ”Digiscan” became a     great success!
When the other photographerswere still queuing for the dark     rooms, Expressen’s photographers pulled up theDigiscan and...
Since photo journalists from allaround the world had gathered   in LA, this was fantastic   marketing for Hasselblad.
Back home in Gothenburg itwas clear that Hasselblad had agreat opportunity to create good revenues and more knowledge     ...
But how should it be done?
Digital Imaging and scannerswere at this point very different businesses compared to the    analogue camera work.
Maybe it was better to separate this from the company and give it an opportunity to grow on its own…
In 1985, the subsidiaryHASSELBLAD ELECTRONIC    IMAGING was born.
Take a good luck at the brand. The ’Hasselblad’ logo is combined with a different font for ’Electronic Imaging’.This was d...
Behind the Hasselblad building…
On the back…
There was a bridge over to another building…
Hasselblad Electronic Imaging (HEIAB) was put onthe other side of this bridge, physically separated,   yet still connected...
Lennart Stålfors became theCEO of HEIAB and brought a  few engineers from the     mother company.
The Board of HEIAB was comprised of Stålfors and some people from management, the CFO Bengt Ahlgren (second to the left) a...
At this point, HEIAB only had a prototype and there werestill doubts about the future  success of this initiative.
Many people at the company  wondered why Hasselbladshould do something like this,  which was outside the core competence o...
HEIAB started off assomething very small, with    small resources.
But they had:
A fantastic brand.
A prototype with great potential.
And some highly entrepreneurial and very skilled electronic engineers.
The Digiscan prototype was developed  further into what became the Dixel.
It looked like this:
This is animage that has been digitized  with the   Dixel.
There was a great demand for the Dixel and HEIAB grew rapidly in the 1980s.
The Dixel became an integral part of the     photo journalist’s equipment.
The company started to make goodprofits for Hasselblad already in 1988.
Merry Christmas and a  Happy New Year     (in Swedish)
Meet the team from 1988:
See the vacant (empty) positions?  HEIAB was indeed expanding      back in these days…
In 1989, 25    percent of  Hasselblad’s   profit camefrom HEIAB, an  initiative that    was only   4 years old.
This is a fantastic success!
HEIAB started to develop otherapplications for photo journalismsuch as images storage systemsand image management software.
HEIAB kept doing verywell through 1989-91.
However, Nikon launched a tele-photo sender in 1992 which was superior to the Dixel and thus  killed tha flagship of HEIAB.
”1992 was a tough year. We were  not able to continue the greatexpansion that was experienced         up until 1991…”
This was the beginning of the end for HEIAB.
But the initiative was still a greataccomplishment by Hasselblad.
Instead of throwing R&D at digital imaging without any commercialresults, the company managed to  create large profits whi...
Which were the success factors       behind HEIAB?
1. They started out on a small scale    with low expecations. This isabsolutely necessary, because new things must by defi...
2. Hasselblad dared to leave its comfort zone. Was the OSIRIS project a failure    because it did not generate anyrevenues...
3. The HEIAB peoplewere the right guys for    this. They were     creators, not   administrators of    existing things.
4. While still leveraging upon theHasselblad brand, HEIAB was veryautonomous. No one except for the   CEO could touch it, ...
When the HEIAB business started to fade, most of the staff movedback into the mother company inorder to develop digital ca...
But that’s a different story.
So, this was the story about how a company at one point succeeded in bridging the gap between the daily business and the f...
Today, the bridge is gone and besides,Hasselblad has moved to another building.
When you know the history behind, images like this    one can suddenly look like monuments.
Find out more:www.christiansandstrom.org
Hasselblad Electronic Imaging
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Hasselblad Electronic Imaging

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How Hasselblad explored digital imaging and made profits on it.

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Hasselblad Electronic Imaging

  1. 1. Hasselblad Electronic Imaging
  2. 2. Christian Sandström holds a PhD from ChalmersUniversity of Technology, Sweden. He writes and speaks about disruptive innovation and technological change.
  3. 3. The Swedish companyHasselblad became a camera legend when it was used in space during the 1960s.
  4. 4. The following photo ofEdwin ”Buzz” Aldrin (no. 2 on the moon) and Victor Hasselblad – the founderof the company, was taken in Gothenburg, Sweden.
  5. 5. The Hasselblad system hasbeen loved all over the world for its flexibility, superiorperformance and simplicity.
  6. 6. Headquartered in the industrial city Gothenburg, in the south west of Sweden, Hasselblad became a cult brand in the 1960s and 1970s.
  7. 7. Believe it or not – but though Hasselbladwas an iconiccamera, therewere several concernsalready in the 1980s.
  8. 8. The medium format segmentof the industry faced decliningrevenues already in the 1980s.
  9. 9. A shrinking market may in the long run lead to increased pricecompetition, and thus lower profits.
  10. 10. Maybe Hasselblad should try to diversify its business in order to grow?
  11. 11. In addition to this, the ’Mavicashock’ from Sony’s launch of asemi-digital camera in 1981 had put digital imaging on the agenda of all big players.
  12. 12. Even though the shift was far away, especially for high-endfirms like Hasselblad, it wouldbe unwise to completely ignore the new technology…
  13. 13. Hasselblad was a mechanical company, and it would be quite risky to have only a competence related to coggwheels the day when electronics transform the industry.
  14. 14. “Even though I did not believe in theMavica concept, I was convinced thatthe photo chemical film would in thefuture be subject to seriouscompetition from electronicalphotography and would eventually besubstituted by this technology” //CEO Jerry Öster, 1991
  15. 15. ”I met Sony’s CEO and the personbehind the Mavica project. It soonbecame clear that the technologyhad so many shortcomings that itwould not lead to any commercialsuccess.” Jerry Öster, CEO
  16. 16. But at the same time – could a relatively small company like Hasselblad enter at this veryearly point and compete with such poor image quality with diluting its brand? Sounds risky.
  17. 17. Öster discussed the issue with the R&D Manager Lennart Stålfors (who was an electrical engineer). They both concluded that the Mavica was not theway forward for Hasseblad, but were still certain that digital imaging would become a serious threat in the future.
  18. 18. But what to do then?
  19. 19. Was it possible to learn more about digital imaging bydeveloping applications and use this knowledge to develop cameras at a later point?
  20. 20. Stålfors and Hasselblad had been collaborating with the SpaceDivision of SAAB for a few years.
  21. 21. The project concerned image analysis related to space and aircraftapplications. The outcome of this was called OSIRIS, a scanner that coulddigitize images in order to send them.
  22. 22. However, the image quality was toopoor and the price too high. OSIRIS did not become a success.
  23. 23. Based upon insights from thisproject, Stålfors recognized that the transmission of images via the phone line was underdeveloped.
  24. 24. Those photos which were sent had a significantly lowerimage quality when they arrived.
  25. 25. Thus, photographers had to use their dark rooms instead. In many applications, this time consumption was quite a big problem.
  26. 26. Could Hasselbladdevelop a digital tele- photo sender?
  27. 27. Such a product would be lighter and offer asuperior image quality and thus, it was compatible with Hasselblad’s brand.
  28. 28. Jerry Öster thoughtthis was a good ideaand the development work was initiated.
  29. 29. The goal was to have a working prototype readyuntil the Olympic Gamesin Los Angeles 1984. The Swedish newspaper Expressen joined Hasselblad in this work.
  30. 30. After days and nights of hard work, two tele- photo scanners could eventually join Expressen’s photographerswhen they crossedthe Atlantic ocean in order to cover the Olympic Games in LA.
  31. 31. It looked like this:
  32. 32. The ”Digiscan” became a great success!
  33. 33. When the other photographerswere still queuing for the dark rooms, Expressen’s photographers pulled up theDigiscan and sent their photos home and they could be published much faster.
  34. 34. Since photo journalists from allaround the world had gathered in LA, this was fantastic marketing for Hasselblad.
  35. 35. Back home in Gothenburg itwas clear that Hasselblad had agreat opportunity to create good revenues and more knowledge about digital imaging.
  36. 36. But how should it be done?
  37. 37. Digital Imaging and scannerswere at this point very different businesses compared to the analogue camera work.
  38. 38. Maybe it was better to separate this from the company and give it an opportunity to grow on its own…
  39. 39. In 1985, the subsidiaryHASSELBLAD ELECTRONIC IMAGING was born.
  40. 40. Take a good luck at the brand. The ’Hasselblad’ logo is combined with a different font for ’Electronic Imaging’.This was done in order to communicatethat while this was a premium product, it was still different from Hasselblad’s traditional business.
  41. 41. Behind the Hasselblad building…
  42. 42. On the back…
  43. 43. There was a bridge over to another building…
  44. 44. Hasselblad Electronic Imaging (HEIAB) was put onthe other side of this bridge, physically separated, yet still connected with the mother company.
  45. 45. Lennart Stålfors became theCEO of HEIAB and brought a few engineers from the mother company.
  46. 46. The Board of HEIAB was comprised of Stålfors and some people from management, the CFO Bengt Ahlgren (second to the left) and CEO Jerry Öster (third to the right).
  47. 47. At this point, HEIAB only had a prototype and there werestill doubts about the future success of this initiative.
  48. 48. Many people at the company wondered why Hasselbladshould do something like this, which was outside the core competence of the company.
  49. 49. HEIAB started off assomething very small, with small resources.
  50. 50. But they had:
  51. 51. A fantastic brand.
  52. 52. A prototype with great potential.
  53. 53. And some highly entrepreneurial and very skilled electronic engineers.
  54. 54. The Digiscan prototype was developed further into what became the Dixel.
  55. 55. It looked like this:
  56. 56. This is animage that has been digitized with the Dixel.
  57. 57. There was a great demand for the Dixel and HEIAB grew rapidly in the 1980s.
  58. 58. The Dixel became an integral part of the photo journalist’s equipment.
  59. 59. The company started to make goodprofits for Hasselblad already in 1988.
  60. 60. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year (in Swedish)
  61. 61. Meet the team from 1988:
  62. 62. See the vacant (empty) positions? HEIAB was indeed expanding back in these days…
  63. 63. In 1989, 25 percent of Hasselblad’s profit camefrom HEIAB, an initiative that was only 4 years old.
  64. 64. This is a fantastic success!
  65. 65. HEIAB started to develop otherapplications for photo journalismsuch as images storage systemsand image management software.
  66. 66. HEIAB kept doing verywell through 1989-91.
  67. 67. However, Nikon launched a tele-photo sender in 1992 which was superior to the Dixel and thus killed tha flagship of HEIAB.
  68. 68. ”1992 was a tough year. We were not able to continue the greatexpansion that was experienced up until 1991…”
  69. 69. This was the beginning of the end for HEIAB.
  70. 70. But the initiative was still a greataccomplishment by Hasselblad.
  71. 71. Instead of throwing R&D at digital imaging without any commercialresults, the company managed to create large profits while at the same time enhancing theirknowledge about digital imaging.
  72. 72. Which were the success factors behind HEIAB?
  73. 73. 1. They started out on a small scale with low expecations. This isabsolutely necessary, because new things must by definition be small in the beginning. Big companies often ’think big’ and thereby miss out on small opportunities which become big later on.
  74. 74. 2. Hasselblad dared to leave its comfort zone. Was the OSIRIS project a failure because it did not generate anyrevenues? No, it was actually here thatthe ’Dixel opportunity’ was discovered. Companies which only stick to their’core competence’ will never find such possibilities.
  75. 75. 3. The HEIAB peoplewere the right guys for this. They were creators, not administrators of existing things.
  76. 76. 4. While still leveraging upon theHasselblad brand, HEIAB was veryautonomous. No one except for the CEO could touch it, and thus HEIAB wasn’t starved in the dailyinternal competition for resources.
  77. 77. When the HEIAB business started to fade, most of the staff movedback into the mother company inorder to develop digital cameras from 1993 and on.
  78. 78. But that’s a different story.
  79. 79. So, this was the story about how a company at one point succeeded in bridging the gap between the daily business and the future technological revolution.
  80. 80. Today, the bridge is gone and besides,Hasselblad has moved to another building.
  81. 81. When you know the history behind, images like this one can suddenly look like monuments.
  82. 82. Find out more:www.christiansandstrom.org

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