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Kodak's Innovation Mistakes

In: Business and Management

Submitted By mlyon83
Words 3144
Pages 13
Mistakes Made on the Road to Innovation
November 27, 2006 Byline: Steve Hamm and William C. Symonds When Eastman Kodak vowed in 2000 to become a leader in digital cameras, the idea seemed ludicrous. The old-line Rochester (N.Y.) company had film and print all through its DNA. Yet by 2005, Kodak ranked No. 1 in the U.S. in digital camera sales. Its digital sales surged 40%, to $5.7 billion, even as its film-based businesses fell 18%. The key: product innovation, something Kodak knew how to do oh-so-well. The company designed one award-winning breakthrough after another to make digital photography nearly as simple as pointing and clicking. So why does Kodak Chief Executive Antonio M. Perez now dump on digital cameras, calling them a "crappy business"? Simple: While blazing growth of camera sales has helped blunt the effects of Kodak's fast-fading film revenues, it hasn't replaced the rich profits of the film business. Even the best mass-market cameras yield slim profit margins. So, although Kodak's digital camera business was a roaring sales success, it turned out to be a crushing profit disappointment. Perez, who arrived at Kodak in 2003 and became chief executive last year, had championed a dramatic change only to find it wasn't the right model for turning the company around. Now he's crafting yet another strategy for Kodak, its third in less than a decade. Building on the mistakes made and lessons learned in recent years, Perez is attempting innovation of another sort -- reinventing the company's core business model. He aims to make Kodak do for photos what Apple does for music: help people to organize and manage their personal libraries of images. He's developing a slew of new digital photo services for consumers that he expects to yield higher returns. They include everything from online photo sharing to a rapid-fire scanning system, called Scan the World, that…...

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