Kodak's decision to file for bankruptcy (ç ´äº§) protection is a sad, though not unexpected, turning point for a leading American corporation that pioneered consumer photography and dominated the film market for decades, but ultimately failed to adapt to the digital revolution.
Although many attribute Kodak's downfall to "complacency (èªæ»¡), "that explanation doesn't acknowledge the lengths to which the company went to reinvent itself. Decades ago, Kodak anticipated that digital photography would overtake film–and in fact, Kodak invented the first digital camera in1975–but in a fateful decision, the company chose to shelf its new discovery to focus on its traditional film business.
It wasn't that Kodak was blind to the future, said Rebecca Henderson, a professor at Harvard Business School, but rather that it failed to execute on a strategy to confront it. By the time the company realized its mistake, it was too late.
Kodak is an example of a firm that was very much aware that they had to adapt, and spent a lot of money trying to do so, but ultimately failed. Large companies have a difficult time switching to new markets because there is a temptation to put existing assets into the new businesses.
Although Kodak anticipated the inevitable rise of digital photography, its corporate culture was too rooted in the successes of the past for it to make the clean break necessary to fully embrace the future. They were a company stuck in time. Their history was so important to them. Nowtheir history has become a liability.
Kodak's downfall over the last several decades was dramatic. In 1976, the company commanded90% of the market for photographic film and 85% of the market for cameras. But the 1980s brought new competition from Japanese film company Fuji Photo, which undermined Kodak by offering low erprices for film and photo supplies. Kodak's decision not to pursue the role of official film for the 1984Los Angeles Olympics was a major miscalculation. The bid went instead to Fuji, which exploited its sponsor ship to win a permanent foothold in the marketplace.