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