Kodak emerged from bankruptcy on Tuesday, but it is a Kodak that few of us will recognize. Swamped by digital photography, technology that Kodak invented, it has shed all consumer product lines. Gone are film and digital cameras, film sales, and consumer photo developing. The "Kodak Moment" is dead.
The "new" Kodak will concentrate on printing technology for corporate customers, touch-screen sensor components and film for the movie industry. Having decided to hang on to the motion picture film business, Kodak already announced in mid-June that it would stop making cellulose acetate, the base for movie film. At that time Kodak spokesperson Christopher Veronda said, “We have years’ worth of inventory that we have built up.” So, even as the "new" Kodak clings to motion picture film, it has stopped making such film. With the continuing development of digital motion picture cameras by Arri, Red, Canon, Sony and others, Kodak may never get to use up all of that "years’ worth of inventory".
I wish Kodak all the best, but I fear for its future. Kodak invented consumer photography 125 years ago and I am concerned about Kodak's abandonment of consumer markets. It faces tough competition in its remaining commercial markets, where Kodak has limited market share. Kodak has laid off 47,000 workers since 2003 and shed half of its remaining workforce in bankruptcy. I see more layoffs in Kodak's future. Antonio Perez, Kodak's CEO, said, "Kodak has a very strong brand all over the world." Unfortunately, it is a brand that will no longer be associated with photography. Let us hope that it becomes a brand of the future, and not just a brand of the past.