My first camera was a Kodak Brownie. It took good photos. Eastman-Kodak’s sales pitch was simple.
“You push the button, we do the rest.”
The word Kodak was synonymous with camera for most of my youth and Eastman-Kodak held a virtual lock on the American market with a 96% share in 1976. Most of my slides were taken on Kodak. The color was warm, whereas Fuji’s was cold. None of that quality mattered to consumers. They wanted cheap and yesterday the company filed for bankruptcy after the collapse of print film for cameras and their inability sell digital cameras.
Kodak received its name from an abbreviation of the inventor’s home state North Dakota, who decided Kodak was better than Nodak.
Like GM in the 70s Kodak corporate leadership believed that the American consumer would remain loyal to their product and their lack of vision doomed the company to failure and the most recent CEO off-shored production without regaining market share. If it had been for a billion dollar settlement with LG, Kodak would have gone bust in 2010 and Rochester, New York has seen the Kodak workforce shrink from 60,000 to 7000 with most of them in the bloated corporate structure.
“Anyone who’s dealt with Kodak … over the last 20 or 30 years has just seen this lumbering dinosaur with wonderful research, coming up with great ideas, but believing that they have some kind of divine right to be the only company selling the means to take pictures.” The electronics journalist Barry Fox told Al Jazeera.com
After over 130 years the Kodak moment passed into extinction along with many other American icons such as Zenith TVs, RCA stereos, and US Steel.
America’s new cry.
“We’re number nothing.”