This week we saw Kodak, after dominating the photo imaging business for over 132 years fall. This company, in its heyday, used to be worshipped by people in the same way as many worship Apple today.
So what went so dramatically wrong?
Kodak dominated the photo business with (analogue) film, chemical and paper-based products for consumers to re-produce images.
In time, technology enabled digital photography.
The irony is that Kodak introduced one of the first digital cameras and acquired hundreds of digital photography patents. However their heart was in protecting their “analogue” products that had once made them so successful. So, despite having all the industry advantages and technology at their disposal Kodak failed to fully embrace digital photography.
Their reluctance to cannibalise their own product was one of the reasons this once iconic and powerful company failed so dramatically. Competitors like HP, Epson, Canon, Apple, etc. circumvented around Kodak’s “protective” patents and created innovative digital photographic products that ultimately replaced Kodak’s analogue products.
Now, take the comparison of Apple for example; Apple did not hesitate to cannibalise their best selling iPod by incorporating it into the iPhone, preventing rival phone manufacturers from stealing a march on them and thereby maintaining its position as market leader – and by so doing demonstrating the fact that - if you do not replace your best selling product with something better someone else will do it for you!