Home Kodak’s Decline Continues as Digital Cameras Get the Ax

Kodak’s Decline Continues as Digital Cameras Get the Ax

Kodak, once a symbol of technological innovation, is lately looking more like a textbook example of a disrupted company. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month, after years of struggling to keep up in a landscape dominated by digital cameras, smartphones and photo-sharing apps.

One of the ways that Kodak tried to stay competitive is by manufacturing and selling digital cameras. Today, those efforts come to an end with the news that the company will be getting out of the digital camera business altogether.

The gravity of Kodak’s decline can hardly be overstated. The company invented consumer photography, the hand-held camera and even digital photography, but failed to keep up with other emerging trends to a sufficient enough extent to retain its dominance in the marketplace.

This is an organization that has innovation in its DNA. Yet its ability to adapt to later, more fast-paced innovation from others has led the company to where it is today. It would be like if, 50 years from now, Apple went bankrupt, surrounded by more nimble competitors and unable to keep up with whatever super-futuristic space gadgets other companies will be making. Hard to imagine, right?

What Kodak used to specialize in – consumer photography and related goods – is now something that’s almost fully democratized by smartphones, photo apps, cheap point-and-shoot cameras and the Web, which enables instant sharing of photographs. Most of the methods and processes for creating and sharing photographs that Kodak invented or perfected are now obsolete.

The company isn’t dead yet, though. It’s just under bankruptcy protection, and will use this time to fine-tune its business in the hopes of emerging from Chapter 11 status. Part of that involves laying people off, but whittling down its product portfolio is another important aspect of the process. Thus, it’s killing off its line of digital cameras and instead focusing elsewhere: maintaining photo kiosks and selling printers, for example.

Kodak may well succeed in emerging from bankruptcy with a leaner, more profitable business. Even if it does, the prospects of the company returning to its heyday don’t look especially promising.

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