Photographs are such an integral part of our lives today, in fact I’ll go as far and say they have been internalised to our being. Fancy words, I know. A few years ago, photographs were synonymous with ‘Kodak’, ‘Kodak Moments’ they were called. Unfortunately for them though, many of those moments are now called ‘selfies!’ From Kodak moments to selfies, somewhere along the way Kodak missed their directive, they refused to adapt and well, they tanked.
For those of you familiar with the term Disruptive Innovation, will get what I mean when I say that Kodak makes for a very good example under the theory. For the uninitiated, the Disruptive Innovation theory is termed and defined by Clayton Christiansen with the premise centered around the suggestion that disruptive innovations usually comes from outside entrepreneurs and not from the market leaders. For Kodak this fit right in since the company was not the one to innovate the photography market with digital cameras. This after, Kodak being one of the earliest companies to actually make a digital camera. They never bothered to launch it or sell it since they firmly believed that ‘digital’ wouldn’t be popular. A move that turned out to be very costly.
Kodak was founded in 1988 and had a pretty successful run for almost a century. In 1990’s though is when the company began to struggle financially. Partly because they were very sluggish in adapting to digital. Around this time Kodak started focussing on digital printing, and patent litigation. In January 2012, Kodak filed for bankruptcy protection. Around this time is also when Kodak decided to pull back from making digital cameras and picture frames. Instead they decided to focus on the corporate digital imaging market. To help them get out of bankruptcy, Kodak sold a chunk of its patents.
In December 2014, Kodak first announced its plans of releasing an Android phone at the CES 2015. Kodak launched its phone, Kodak IM5. The phone came and went without any ripples. Kodak positioned the phone, to perhaps target the baby boomers. For folks that really don’t care for a smartphone but can use some of its features. Features like having basic social media apps for photo sharing. The company next announced a new phone Kodak Ektra, in October this year. This phone is a camera that can also be used as phone. The camera features the phone boasts of are pretty impressive, but here is the deal. Why would we need a camera that is also a phone. For folks like me, who aren’t into photography, our regular Android phones or the iPhone have impressive cameras. And for the photography enthusiasts, there are digital cameras.
Kodak is really trying to get back in the race and this phone built by the UK based Bullit group is a good attempt. Kodak also offers accessories that makes the phone look more like the old cameras – leather like casing and the works. Kodak is competing with every mobile phone company out there – awesome camera or not. The jury is still out on how it’ll actually fare.
What Kodak needs is to be the Disruptive innovator for the mobile market – if that is the market they want to capture. Unfortunately for them, the market is quite saturated, so unless they come up with mind blowing technology, they will have a very tough time. But, let’s not forget that it was Kodak that launched the popular series of Brownie cameras that made photography a very affordable hobby at the turn of the century. Perhaps they can still succeed in disrupting this market?
Would you buy the Kodak Ektra? Write in to us and let us know your reasons for both yes and no.