Since paper and film had been manufactured and developed inthese buildings the shift to digital imaging rendered many of them obsolete.
In the end, demolition turnedout to be the right thing to do.
Some of these implosionswere made into PR events for the launch of Kodak’s new All-in-one printers.
Needless to say,these demolitions evoked many emotions…
Thomas Hoehn, Director of Brand Communications and New Media at Kodak wrote about this here.
In the comments below the blog entry, many different views were expressed about Kodak and this PR event:
“Kodak was great for Rochester. And for many it still has a place in their heart for all the good times and great friends that it brought together. However, those days are long gone now - as symbolized by this implosion. The Old Kodak is long gone.”
“I was embarassed for the TV media and for the people who were watching the implosion as a way to remember all the great years that B9 served Kodak. His presentation was loud, classless, and direspectful!”
“If you want good publicity.. take care of your current workers, not just the digitial employees. Remember were you got all the money to invest in digital (FILM)....”
“More thoughts should have been on the employees that were negatively impacted by the closings of these buildings. The celebration was a total disrepect for the individuals that worked for Kodak for many years and were let go.”
“It is wonderful for those still with the company that someone has finally accepted the changes in the industry and Kodak is trying to catch up with those changes... but for those of us who were sacrificed along the way it can at times feel like salt thrown on a wound.”
“Theres still a lot of great people at Kodak, just too few of them at the top. That to me is the greatest disrespect, when our CEO and upper management get great raises and we are offered fractions of a percent if anything - not even a cost of living increase.”
“No matter how they spin this, its just way too symbolic of Kodaks implosion after the decline of film. The whole Ink promo was utterly distasteful.”
“I think the company missed the mark in not realizing the emotional impact the implosions would have on employees (current and former).“
“After 28 years with this company i have seen it all until this, people making a mockery out of revolution, they did it to save a buck. i work for the new digital imaging group, with a 32% paycut and a 17% cut in work hours, just to save a buck, i find this hole implosion thing a joke, there was a lot of history with in these buildings to say it’s a revolution into digital, next time hire bevis and buthead they’ll show a little more compassion.”
“13 years ago Kodak in Peru had 300 workers, today we are 10. Put that in a picture and you will know we understand how you guys up there feel about so many people having left the company when they thought they had a life time job. We are a family and we feel the same down here.“
“Not many industries have had to face these challenges simultaneously and Kodak is doing it head on. This is the fourth year of a tectonic four-year digital transformation. Amazing progress has been made but not without ups and downs, tears and smiles, and myriad of other emotions. I am happy that Kodak embraces acceptance of comments on this blog. Many corporate blogs do not. This speaks to the brand and the values that underlay this great institution.”
“Some would say this implosion symbolizes Kodaks actual future ...”
Along with this, theconsumer cameras were further developed.
In 1962, sales exceeded 1billion USD and John Glennbecame the first astronaut to orbit the earth. Of course thisKodak momentwas memorizedwith Kodak film.
In 1957, the Kodak Brownie Starmatic was launched. Over the coming five years more than 10 million of them were sold!
But even greater revenueswere madeby selling film.
Just like Gilette made great money by sellingrazor blades, Kodak made great money byselling film. The main source of profit was notthe razor or the camera, it was thecontinuous consumption of blades and film.
The development can be traced back toBell Labs in the 1960s and then to NASA and the transmission of photos fromunmanned space vehicles in the 1970s.
Through digital imaging, photos could be sent back to earth.
Kodak, Canon and RCA tried to convert light into digital images.
In 1979, Emory Kristof was thefirst to use an electronic camera while photographing life at the bottom of the ocean.
Electronic cameras were alsoused when Kristof took photos of Titanic at the bottom of the sea.
"What does this developmentmean? That the working newspaperphotographer in the not-too-distance future could be using anelectronic camera."// Edward Dooks photographer, 1979
"It sounds like it (the digital camera) couldgive us more speed, more time to do theselection and cropping of photographs andless time just doing the technical productionof it.“// Ralph Langer, Dallas Morning News 1984
"Electronic photography is going to replacethe silver image. We are going to have to havean understanding of how to edit pictures, howpictures are stored electronically and how toedit them electronically." // Charles Scott, Photojournalism educator
In 1981, the industry was shakenwhen SONY launched their Mavica, a camera that used floppy discs instead of film.
Many companies feared that this technology would eventuallysubstitute analogue photography.
In Japan it was referred toas ’the Mavica shock’. They feared that something like this would happen.
"When the electronic camera, and all that goes with it, is finally in our hands -- and it will be -- it will not be because we have sought it out, but because we are no longer left with a choice.“Ed Breen, News Photographer in 1982
Kodak recognized the threat and invested extensively in digitalimaging during the 1970s and 1980s.
In 1986, Kodak scientists releasedthe first megapixel sensor, with 1,4 Mpixel.
The JPEG standard for compression emergedin 1989 and further advancements were made in digital imaging.
Later on Kodak developed the sensor into a digitalback, which was built in to a Nikon camera in 1991.
A sensor with 1,3 Megapixel, an internalharddrive of 200 megabytes at a cost of 13 000 USD (about 21 000 USD today!)
It was marketed to photojournalists, hoping they’dbe willing to pay for being able to view images instantly , take a lot ofphotos and removing the long process of turning film into a digital format.
In 1994, Apple launched the QuickTake camera.
But the business utility was great. Many film photos were digitized sooner or later anyway. With a digital back, one step in the production ofphotos could be removed.
The first digital backs were expensive and had a moderateperformance. Kodak launched one with 6 Mpixels.
Press and Studio photographers loved it and NASA was veryinterested in the Kodak sensor.
6 million pixel resolution is good enough for most applications. The perception of colour is more important than the perception of sharpness. Kodak, 1996
In these years, Kodak also launchedsoftware which could be used for editing and cropping digitized photos.
Kodak also developed a digital infrastructure that could be used byphotofinishers throughout their network.
In a press release from 1997, the following quote can be found: Four years ago, when we talked about the possibilities of digital photography, people laughed. Today, the high-tech world is stampeding to get a piece of the action, calling digital imaging perhaps the greatest growth opportunity in the computer world.And it may be. We surely see it as the greatest future enabler for people to truly “Take Pictures. Further.”
Kodak did everything to enter digital imaging – consumer cameras, professional cameras, storage systems, software, printing paper, you name it…
However, in the digital world, everything would be different.
Kodak used to be exceptionallyintegrated vertically, owning the entire value chain, from basic research to photo finishing.
The digital value chain could not be dominated in the same way – Compaq, HP and others were leaders in the PC market,Adobe dominated image software, in printers Canon and HP were leaders.
Kodak therefore launched many joint ventures with these firms, since the company did not possess these resources on their own.
With the launch of the digital DC40 in1995, Kodak teamed up with Microsoft, HP, IBM and tried to create an infrastructure for digital imaging.
Kodak, Olympus and Sanyo all had thousands of patents in digital imaging, they cross-licensed much of this in order to speed up the shift to digital imaging.
Thus, Kodak developed the digitalbusiness both in-house and through collaborations and partnerships.
Kodak had a strong brand and a global presence, these resources were crucial in the shift to digital imaging. Thecompany offered digital services such as digitizing film all over the world.
The company had a strong technologypresence in digital imaging. The company had more than 5000 engineers and scientists, more than 600 PhDs and had invested in digital research since the 1980s.
Kodak had a leading position inimage sensors for a long time and sold those to many other camera companies such as Olympus.
At the same time, the price war withFuji put Kodak into trouble. In 1997-98, Fisher had to fire 20 000 people, mainly because Fuji lowered their prices and expanded.
Kodak also responded by enteringemerging markets such as China.
During the late 1990s,Kodak kept launching smaller, cheaper andbetter digital cameras.
At the same time, the companycreated various digital consumer products and services.
Thus, Kodak did not only recognize the threat at an early point…
… The company pioneered digitalimaging and pushed it further…
… Despite the fact that digital imaging would render film obsolete…
… Kodak embraced, developed and commercialized digital imaging…
Daniel Carp, Kodak’s new CEO said in 2000: "Kodak is convinced that there hasnever been a better time to be in the picture business…. Digital canchange the way people take and use pictures. Suddenly there are no boundaries to how often you can take pictures because cost and availability are no longer issues."
With all these preparations, all R&D and successful digital businessdevelopment in the 1980s and 90s, what could possibly go wrong?
In 2000, Daniel Carp became the new CEO of Kodak…
In a speech in 2000 he said: "Kodak is convinced that there has never been a better time to be in the picture business…. Digital can change the way people take and use pictures. Suddenly there are no boundaries to how often you can takepictures because costand availability are no longer issues."
A bit ofoptimism has never hurt anyone, butreality turned out to be somewhat different for Kodak.
Carp also said: ”… It will take more than one company to change acentury of consumer habits and perception. With the participation of the entire industry, I am confident that we can lead the waytoward a more picture-rich era, and that, together, we can break through the technical and marketing challenges facing our industry.”
Once the price and performance of digitalcameras was good enough…
… An avalanche of growth in digital imaging now occurred.3025201510 5 0 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Number of film and digital cameras sold in the United States (guess which one is digital!)
Once the shift occurred, it was fasterthan anyone could have imagined…
In 2007, several Kodakbuildings were demolished.
The global distribution network forselling film was no longer a great asset.
Having pushed the frontiers of digitalphotography for decades, Kodakers mustlook at these pictures with mixed feelings.
For every year, less film was consumed, and thus revenues diminished rapidly.
A paper factory is destroyed, neighbours and former Kodakers record the event with theirdigital cameras and camcorders, and upload the images to flickr…
… Can the shift to digital imaging be illustrated in a better way?
Kodak stopped marketing film cameras in 2004.
If Kodak wasn’t late, why did the company encounter such great trouble…?
One reason is of course the current recession.
“During the last three months of theyear, we experienced dramatic declines in several of our key businesses due to the slowdown in consumer spending and significantly reduced demand forcapital equipment” // CEO Antonio Perez
But the problems came longbefore the economic downturn…
If Kodak wasn’t late, why did the company encounter such huge problems…?