What was Kodak thinking?

For the past few months, I’ve been reading articles in The Wall Street Journal about Eastman Kodak Company’s last-ditch attempts at avoiding bankruptcy. They were actually trying to sell their patents. That’s astonishing for a one-time near monopoly. But by mid January, they finally waved the white flag. So what happened to this 131-year-old storied brand? A lot of people will say the digital camera rendered its film counterpart useless. No argument there. But I was surprised to learn that Eastman Kodak actually invented the digital camera in 1975, but it wasn’t intended for public use. So you can’t say they got blind-sided when FUJI introduced the first digital camera to the public in 1988. That’s 13 years later! Come on guys. They created the alternative to their (film) product. They certainly had the cash and organizational might to refine it, launch it to the public and try to “own” the new market. No, I don’t think competition beat Kodak. From what I’m reading, I’m thinking complacency – and later pride – did them in. It looks like Kodak is NOT invincible, as many of their leaders and employees felt at the time.

In contrast, did car companies ignore electric because gas is what’s been powering its products since they were invented? And why do you think so many non-carbonated beverage brands were started – or bought – by Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo? Here in Lancaster, the Dodge Cork Company (founded in 1926) has evolved to become Ecore International, North America’s largest processor and user of scrap tire rubber for manufacturing products for all kinds of uses.

If the past few years taught us anything, it’s that we have to evolve to survive … and thrive. If you want to beat your competition, become a better competitor to your core products than your competitors. Me? I’m not going be complacent and prideful to the point of getting “Kodaked.” How about you?