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The Lessons Learned from Kodak and Fujifilms

The Economist has a great story on why Fujifilm is surviving while Kodak is fading away. The correlations with the publishing world jump out in this article. For instance:

Both firms realised that digital photography itself would not be very profitable. “Wise businesspeople concluded that it was best not to hurry to switch from making 70 cents on the dollar on film to maybe five cents at most in digital,” says Mr Matteson. But both firms had to adapt; Kodak was slower.

Swap out “classified advertising” with “digital photography” and you have newspaper publishing in the 1990’s. And:

Another reason why Kodak was slow to change was that its executives “suffered from a mentality of perfect products, rather than the high-tech mindset of make it, launch it, fix it,”

Newspapers have traditionally collected the news, decided what was the most useful, then distributed to their readers. Before the Internet very few people had access to information like publishers did.

Take some time to read the full story, it applies to many industries beyond publishing and manufacturing.

And yes, the irony is not lost here that I’m quoting, and linking, to a story for free.

Fujifilm has mastered new tactics and survived. Film went from 60% of its profits in 2000 to basically nothing, yet it found new sources of revenue. Kodak, along with many a great company before it, appears simply to have run its course. After 132 years it is poised, like an old photo, to fade away.