Kodak emerges from bankruptcy

Eastman Kodak, one of the most iconic US brands from the 20th century, was killed by digital cameras and smartphones. Famous for filling photo albums worldwide, not to mention supporting NASA's Apollo 11 moon missions, Kodak has just emerged from bankruptcy.

Re-positioned as a digital imaging player, with rivals like like Canon and Hewlett Packard, does it stand a chance?

Killed by flash memory and USB cable

Depending on how old you are, it's got a huge boost just with the name. The company that ended up as roadkill from digital cameras was, ironically, the first company to build the first digital camera back in 1975, with help from the parts bin of a Super 8 movie camera and a chip developed by Fairchild Semiconductor.

Technology has improved somewhat since Kodak recorded 0.01 megapixel black and white snaps to a tape cassette in the mid seventies, according to PetaPixel. But Kodak - equally a chemicals company as well as a photography player - massively failed over time to capitalise on its huge industrial lab expertise and patent bank.

Dinosaur re-emerges

And now? "Kodak is a different company that the one in the popular imagination and very different from the one that filed for bankruptcy," Kodak's legal representative, Andrew Dietderich, is quoted by the BBC.

Kodak's lengthy line of creditors will only get back a fraction of the money they originally lost, though Kodak's UK pension fund does get its film and document printing business at a $650m cost.

In terms of the new long-term business model, the corporate market is rather less cut-throat than the retail consumer market. That's a distinct sales model change for a slimmer, leaner Kodak.

Don't take my Kodachrome away

The story could have been so different for Kodak. Other companies like Nikon, Panasonic and Canon - remember Kodak was also a major camera manufacturer - have all come through the digital disruption more or less intact.

The moral of the story for Kodak is that it needs to be much better at the business of digital imaging rather than the innovation itself. Profit margins count. As does highly aggressive, savvy marketing.

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