What to do with Kodak?

Kodak cameras and Polaroids were the coolest camera of their day. The Polaroid mesmerized people by allowing them to take a photo and see the print in less than 30 seconds.

That innovation and many more like these changed the world for the better:

  • First digital camera invented by Kodak engineer Steven Sasson, 1976
  • Introduction of the first OLED displays, 1987
  • 1.4 mega-pixel M1 sensors marketing to journalists, government, 1990
  • Kodak CCD sensors used on Space Shuttle, 2008
  • First Kodak Brownie camera released, 1900
  • Kodak Kodacolor first color print film introduced, 1942

Kodak absolutely dominated the film and chemical fields related to developing and printing images. In 1976, Kodak controlled the market with 90 percent of U.S. photographic film sales and 85 percent of cameras. My how times have changed.

First Fuji Film appeared and created equally impressive films to take away market share for those loving prints, slides and darkroom work.

Then the digital camera revolution altered history, and although Kodak was among the pioneers of digital innovation, Kodak fell behind. Film camera sales hit rock bottom, never to recover. Photographic chemical sales also declined dramatically, taking Kodak down with it.

Last week, the photographic pioneer filed for bankruptcy after leading the imaging industry for more than a century. Should Kodak die off, be sliced up and sold, or simply wander into a dusty sunset, it will be a sad moment for photographers who have depended on this imaging icon.

The Wall Street Journal on Jan. 20 published a story revealing the severity of the bankruptcy, financial decline. Some doubt Kodak can bounce back as the company has not yet established itself near the front of the digital camera pack.

So what is to be done for this icon? Try these options on for size. None have been thoroughly researched, and all are competitive fields. But you make opportunities  where you see hope:

  • The WSJ story suggested Kodak may dive into the wildly-unprofitable printer business, which I would not recommend unless Kodak engineers have a new printing method to once-again revolutionize the imaging industry. While ink sales are tremendous money makers for HP, Epson and the like, the creation of printers at prices under $100 is generally regarded as a lost leader among the retail crowd. This option gets a vote of no confidence in terms of inspiring hope into the Kodak machine.
  • How about a partnership with a huge mobile company like Virgin or Apple to provide higher-quality cameras, imaging sensors than currently in use? Apple and Kodak are both clear innovators and arrived on scene after much innovation and hard work. I see hope here in the mobile field or with tablets.
  • Walk into a retail store today to purchase surge protection for your hardware, and you are likely to walk out with an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS). Trouble is, salespeople are obvious to the fact a UPS rarely is built with more than 1,000 joules of energy dissipation capability. Thus, it’s a pathetic surge protector in name only. A true surge protector sold by Panamax or APC handles what fries computers most often and painfully quick — overwhelming power surges through he electrical lines in every house, office. Kodak has the engineers to create quality surge protectors and line conditioners for upscale sales, and their management team can innovate by adding small security cameras into these everyday necessities.

What are your thoughts on Kodak? Great company in my youth. I used Kodak black-and-white film for 14 years before moving to digital technology for good. Those were some golden years.

May Kodak find its way back to home to the hearts of American photographers.


Consumer Issue Dec. 26, 2011-Stop Shopping Already

Dear I’ll-go-shopping (and return everything I’ve ever received)-immediately-after-Christmas crowd,

I was fortunate after exiting Interstate 10 near Memorial City Mall on Dec. 26. My vehicle sat in the exiting traffic tie-up for only 15 minutes while not going to the mall. I stayed as far left in those few lanes as possible. But I was amused at the hundreds of cars backed up on the feeder lanes of I-10 waiting impatiently for a single parking spot to open up among the many parking spots at this very sizable shopping facility.

The thought came to mind quickly: Go home people. Most stores were closed only 24-36 hours, and you are acting like you are having withdraws. Come to your senses.

I heard some major retailers ran out of cash because of returns from all the picky people who can’t adjust their life and accept the purple tie, the brown shoes or the zebra-striped underwear they received from a loving friend or family member. That may be humorous if not for the fact so many people lined up to return gifts. Who honestly wants to stand in line to find a parking spot at any mall? And then who wants to stand in line at a retailer just to return a slightly tasteless item for another slightly different item?

This letter is about maturity, thankfulness and the avoiding the fix-me-I’m-broken mentality so common in America. Millions of Americans, I pray, are deeply thankful for every tiny gift they received. Many of my friends could not afford a major Christmas this year. However they avoided the trivial in-store fight to exchange/return gifts, and instead shared the love, hugs and blessings to get them through.

Praise the brave, the heartless, the truly healthy of mind, and the loving person. In reality, most of us are selfish, petty and too obsessed with our own needs. Most career-oriented adults take half or all of December off work. So next year, let’s all spend Dec. 25-Jan. 1 at home in the loving arms of family or by assisting our friends with hugs, presents and fun.

In the long run, you cannot make a better investment in your lifetime.