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In the news - Kodak's digital disaster

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Hajar Javaheri Hajar Javaheri | 14:26 UK time, Wednesday, 25 January 2012

When was the last time you bought a roll of film? Unless you're a traditionalist, it's probably not been for a long time. Digital cameras are so ubiquitous now that most of us simply expect to see our snaps on a screen as soon as they're taken.

So, when former photography giant Eastman Kodak announced they had filed for bankruptcy protection in the US, few business and technology analysts were surprised. Despite being behind one of the first digital camera prototypes back in 1975, by the end of the 1990s they were still reticent to release consumer digital cameras. Apparently bent on hard copies of photos, they turned much of their attention to digital image printing, still not quite taking into account the huge cultural shift that was in the air thanks to online photo albums and social media.

The firm is currently restructuring thanks to the breathing space afforded by bankruptcy protection and will have to make big changes if it’s to earn back its place as a market leader.

Loved by many a skinny jeans and big glasses wearing hipster, popular instant camera company Polaroid is also subject to much speculation, batting off rumours of a similar ‘Kodak moment’ by recently announcing its latest creation, an Android-powered HD smart camera. But even they are facing competition in the face of Instagram, a smartphone app that mimics Polaroid's signature style on a digital screen.

Keeping up with technology is one thing, but finding new ways to be back at the forefront and stay afloat in a highly competitive market is the real challenge. It’s a hard lesson to learn but whether you head a global corporation or just want to see photos of relatives on the other side of the world, you can’t afford to slip behind in the modern age.

For more on digital cameras, check out the WebWise guide, or for more information about the state of Kodak, visit the BBC News story.

Hajar is a regular contributor to the WebWise blog and has also made award-winning programmes for BBC Radio. In her spare time she loves reading, writing and singing.


  • Comment number 1.

    At the risk of starting a flame-war, I don't think Kodak's dead yet. A company so big, it's company name is my computers spell checker. Kodak has a huge library of patents from which it earns an income. They have many fingers in many pies. When I worked for Jessops, selling digital cameras side by side with film cameras they were one of the few companies producing pro/press cameras as well as consumer models. As innovators they produced one of the full frame dslrs and most recently produced the very challenging sensor for Leica rangefinder cameras.

    The big mistake that 99% of smarty-pants commentators make about Kodak, is that they did not that they didn't ''embrace' digital. Nonsense! What they appear to completely failed to understand, when jumping deeper and deeper into photo-printers was that fewer people who took photos, actually shared photos as prints, and prefered to use the web. Kodak were not the only big photographic company to have a rude awakening. Polaroid also had too many eggs in one basket (Naturally, I realise I am over simplifying.)

    If anything, Kodak or Polaroid should have involved into flickr.....


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