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Kodak - Shifting Focus from traditional Film to Digital Revolution

Updated on July 1, 2017

The first Kodak camera was launched in 1888, more than 120 years ago, with the simple slogan “You press the button. We do the rest.” Kodak launched its famous Brownie camera in 1900 and priced it at $1.00. With this, the photography market was opened to millions of people. They introduced the first pocket camera called Instamatic in early 1960s and smaller 110mm cameras in 1970s.

Kodak Recomar 18 camera and Kodak Six-20 Anastigmat camera
Kodak Recomar 18 camera and Kodak Six-20 Anastigmat camera
Kodak No. 3A Autographic Junior camera 1918
Kodak No. 3A Autographic Junior camera 1918
Kodak 35 Rangefinder 1940
Kodak 35 Rangefinder 1940
Kodak Brownie Cameras
Kodak Brownie Cameras

Kodak dominated the photography business throughout the 20th century. By 2000, Kodak was one of the most recognized and trusted brands in the world and many people referred to the company as “Big Yellow”.

Kodak Traditional Films
Kodak Traditional Films

Negative impact after 2000

Daniel Carp who became the CEO in 2000, saw the new challenges the company was facing that would require it to rethink and redesign its business strategy. The company’s stock market price started coming down from the previous highest levels and the company began to lay off workers.

Competitors' Products

Fujifilm Finefix F200 camera
Fujifilm Finefix F200 camera
Fujifilm FinePix S2000HD camera
Fujifilm FinePix S2000HD camera
Olympus c-700 Digital Camera
Olympus c-700 Digital Camera

Cellular Phones with Digital Camera

The problems

  • Kodak was the first company to produce a digital camera in 1976. But they were reluctant to develop the technology because the company thought consumers would be slow to adopt digital technology. Most importantly, the company thought that every sale of digital cameras would gradually kill the core business of the company i.e. producing film, photo-developing chemicals and light sensitive paper.
  • Despite Kodak’s dominance in traditional photography, many competitors such as Fuji were exposing flaws in Kodak’s marketing and stealing market share.
  • The attack on World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001severely depressed vacation travel and the associated picture taking.
  • Competition from an unexpected source that is cellular phone manufacturers surprised Kodak. Nokia introduced the first cellular phone with built-in camera in November 2001. Although many people initially considered camera phones as something like toys, sales of camera phones in 2003 from all manufacturers topped 84 million units.
  • People who owned digital cameras or cell-phone cameras were increasingly using their PCs to download and then print their own pictures on their printers.

Problems with photo processing labs

When consumers wanted to develop pictures, they handed over their film rolls to local drug stores, departmental stores or photo shops. They were then sent to regional labs run by Kodak and others who produced the prints and returned them to the store for pick up. This process took several days. With the development of the self-contained photo lab, retailers were able to place a machine directly in their store to do everything related to photo processing. These labs allowed the retailers to offer a faster service. Fuji’s machines, in addition to handling traditional film, also allowed consumers to make prints from their digital camera memory devices. Since Kodak’s machines did not have this facility, Kodak began selling kits to allow its minilabs to handle digital prints but this gave a low quality print.

New strategies

In 2003, Kodak decided to re-evaluate its strategy and the company recruited a new COO, Antonio Perez who was responsible for HP’s rise to dominance in inkjet printers. He believed that Kodak’s future was in digital imaging business for consumers, businesses and healthcare providers. As a result, the company announced in September 2003 that the company would reduce its dependence on traditional film, boost investment in non-photographic markets and pursue digital markets such as inkjet printers and high end digital printing. This was a historic shift in its strategy. These moves have put the company in direct competition with entrenched competitors such as HP, Canon, Seiko, Epson, and Xerox. With this change in strategy, Kodak indicated that it would not make any long term investment in traditional consumer film. At the time of this announcement, traditional film and photography accounted for 70% of Kodak’s revenue and whole of its operating profit. The company estimated that by 2006, its traditional business would fall to 40% of revenues and 50% of earnings. As part of the shift in strategy, Kodak announced in early 2004 that it would abandon it APS camera business and stop selling reloadable film cameras in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Some of Kodak's latest products

Kodak Easyshare M763 Digital Camera
Kodak Easyshare M763 Digital Camera
Kodak Easyshare Z980 Digital Camera
Kodak Easyshare Z980 Digital Camera
KODAK Zi6 Pocket Video Camera
KODAK Zi6 Pocket Video Camera
KODAK ESP 9 All-in-One Printer
KODAK ESP 9 All-in-One Printer
KODAK Color Ink Cartridge
KODAK Color Ink Cartridge
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© 2010 Lasantha Wijesekera


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    • Hackslap profile image


      4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I Still remember how Kodak used to dominate the space of photography (along with Fuji) until even the early 00's before suddenly and without warning..Nokia's phones began replacing the old fashioned camera ... the rest is history ..

      NB: I still have an old APS Film and a Minolta camera lol ..

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Thanks Bernard!Mine is an opinion, which may be dicadrsed at leisure. I think the subject matter is less the pleasant face than the actual hush-moment and anticipation in squeezing the blueberry, testing for ripeness, in those few seconds available prior to the actual plucking of the succulent focus of our attention. That critical moment was captured in a tiny fraction of time, otherwise lost to oblivion!That is what I like about the photograph and you might have a completely different take on it, but the connectivity between all the mechanical pivots in the structure makes this an exciting composition. For example; the geometric lines of her arm on the left, frames a youthful face, further softened by the floppy hat which emphasizes her razor sharp attention for the little berry. the above point connects through to the other arm which gently pulls on the branch, reinforcing the focus in the image. By doing so she is introducing a little tension into all the relevant limbs, her own as well as the branch laden with fruit. That mechanical tension can be easily felt, as gentle as it is, and extends to the bucket tugging for attention at her elbow. that red bucket is doing a lot of important business here and I like the way the colour glows under her arm. If it wasn't for that bucket, much of the photo would be lost. It provides a balance to the distraction coming from too much space in the upper part of the image. The red is further enhanced against it's complementary colour, green. There is just enough red visible to make it work. I like that bucket. the manner in which colours relate and the way they affect our emotions is quite a mystery. The green with the few speckles of blueberry are relatively analogous' and any receding colours in these unique relationships have the effect of smoothing' our emotions. That soothing effect is consistent with the overall quality projected and it should be framed and hung in someone's home. otherwise, please excuse my rattling .

    • profile image

      norma shockley 

      7 years ago

      can't never find cartridge to fit my docker to print my pictures usually walmart has it they don't either

    • LasanthaW profile imageAUTHOR

      Lasantha Wijesekera 

      8 years ago from Sri Lanka

      Thanks Hubpageswriter for your visit and nice comments.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      How time has evolved everything and the changes to Kodak has been amazing. I enjoy the photos of everything, so awesome. Great hub here and well written.

    • LasanthaW profile imageAUTHOR

      Lasantha Wijesekera 

      8 years ago from Sri Lanka

      Thanks Suziecat7 for your comments.

      Yeah. We are in the digital age. You know, some people still possess the cameras which were used by their grand fathers because they had a very long lifetime. But do you think that the digital cameras that we use now will be available for our grandchildren to see? No. Even we buy a digital camera today but find it outdated or broken or no parts in one or two years time and then we throw it out and buy a latest one. That’s life now.

    • suziecat7 profile image


      8 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Interesting Hub. I've collected old cameras in the past. Of course I've adapted to the digital age but still miss those old beauties.

    • LasanthaW profile imageAUTHOR

      Lasantha Wijesekera 

      8 years ago from Sri Lanka

      Thanks Agvulpes for your nice comments.

      Well, I started my photography with a Yashika Electro 35 camera which I bought just after leaving school. When I was a small child, my father had a camera which was very similar to the one in the first image here (Kodak Recomar 18). I took it from my father and used as a toy. I still remember how it had been broken by me into pieces. What a crime it is?

    • agvulpes profile image


      8 years ago from Australia

      Thanks for writing this great Hub it brought back some memories to me. I started my long love of photography with a 'box brownie' just like the one in you Hub. Your story on the history of Kodak was a very interesting read.

      Thumbs up and 'useful'

    • LasanthaW profile imageAUTHOR

      Lasantha Wijesekera 

      8 years ago from Sri Lanka

      Thanks Mr Nice for stopping by and making some encouraging comments.

    • Mr Nice profile image

      Mr Nice 

      8 years ago from North America

      Hi LasanthaW,

      Thanks for sharing the info about Kodak cameras and digital revolution. I love photography and I have seen and used those Kodak single lens cameras.

      But now those cameras and 24mm and 35mm films are just the part of history. Keep writing good hubs like this one.

      Enjoy rest of your day.


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