Predictions for 2012

With the start of the new year, I’ve been thinking about what may be in store for us. To start, one which could be foreseen and long rumored, was the bankruptcy filing of Kodak. This already happened on January 19th. What does it mean? For starters, I suppose that you can now say that film based photography is officially dead. Secondly, the talk about the auction of a portion of their imaging patents wasn’t able to hold off the bankruptcy filing. The tech patent market seems to have become pretty quiet over the second half of the past year, and will probably continue to do so. Another company that looks to be headed into a dismal abyss this year is Research in Motion (RIM). RIM puts out the Blackberry phones. They’ve had a plummeting share in the US smartphone market to about 9%, down from 24% at the start of 2011. In addition to that, they have delayed the release of their new operating system QNX to late in the year. With how fast the mobile market is changing, that may be too late for them.

Moving on in the technology sector, Apple will release their rumored Apple TV, but my sense is that this will probably have a much harder time than the previous products that they have been releasing such as the iPhone and iPad. (Apple is sitting on a mountain of cash so they have the ability to keep it around till it gains sufficient traction.) The TV market is so established by now, that they would have to come up with something significantly revolutionary to make significant inroads. The tablet market was in such infancy, and in the smartphone market the iPhone was so far ahead of anything else that both had no significant competition. The tablet market will continue to be dominated by the iPad, but Android will make significant gains in the smartphone market. The big difference here being the carrier subsidies. Unless the android tablets came significantly undercut the iPad on price, they will had difficulty competing. For two tablets that cost about the same price, the choice will be the iPad over an Android competitor. The cloud will continue to grow in the services that it provides, and mobile networking and social media will continue to drive social and political turmoil around the world. Facebook will go public to the dismay (or delight depending on if you’re buying or selling) the Valley’s property market, but with a significantly small number of shares floated. I don’t see Mark Zuckerberg wanting to give up that much control.

In other news, the Nissan Leaf will usher in the era of the electric car in the same manner that the Toyota Prius created the market for the hybrid. However, the electric car will be limited to two car families with a usable garage limiting the usable market for it. Without a reliable place to plug the car in for the night, it’s just not that useful and the range prevents it from being used for anything other than daily commuting.

What about the Euro? Two things can happen. Either the countries get it together or it falls apart. The European governments will stumble through the year, but in the end it probably won’t make it through the year as it currently is. At least one country (Greece) get’s thrown out of the currency. This is the more likely scenario compared to a complete collapse of the common currency. At some point, an organized exit may be seen as the only politically viable solution as opposed to more political integration of the European countries.

In Russia the protests will turn more violent, but Vladimir Putin will return as President of Russia, but not without political unrest and charges of rigging the election by the world at large. President Bashar al-Assad of Syria will be toppled. More covert and possibly military action will take place against Iran’s nuclear program, but not an outright war. Barak Obama will narrowly win the election and serve a second term as President. The stock market will be either flat or down on the news. If he loses the election, the stock market will rise on the news hoping that a change in office will be a fresh start and the economic climate will brighten. Any change will be better than the current path that the economy is on.

What else? This site will get a new look this year. The camera will get dusted off and pulled out of the closet.

The Patriots will win the Super Bowl and have their revenge.

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Kodak

It came across on the news today that the Eastman Kodak Company has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It’s been a long time coming, not just in the last couple of weeks/months, but rather for years.
The news was rather sad. I had worked there when I had first gotten out of school in the image science program, over 10 years ago now. I haven’t been back to Rochester since then. I wasn’t there too long, but it was still the best job that I have had. I got to spend most of my days writing image processing algorithms, reading papers, and learning from some of the best. I loved it. But, I couldn’t stand the winters and didn’t want to be in Rochester if I didn’t have to. I didn’t have to, so I left.
Already, by that time they were floating aimlessly as a company. They didn’t want to leave the silver halide business due to the amount of dollars that it was printing them. They had been talking about digital photography, but couldn’t seem to focus on it like they had to. Inkjet was going to save them, digital sensors was going to save them, a lot of things were going to save them, however they never really stood behind anything that could take them into the future. It’s unfortunate. They invented the digital camera, but it ultimately led to their downfall.
In a way, they were also arrogant. They thought that they knew imaging better than anyone (in many ways they were right) so people would always turn to them, but most people don’t care. Their pictures are good enough. They snap pictures on phones and upload and share them. If a photo isn’t good, it gets deleted and you try again. It’s not like film where you don’t have the luxury of seeing at the time how your pictures come out.

There is an interesting article relating Fuji Film and Kodak at The Economist here