The Eastman Kodak Company

Table of Content

From the start, Eastman Kodak had several advantages. The invention of silver halide photographic film gave them a significant edge over rivals. In 1888, they introduced a portable camera that completely changed the photography industry. George Eastman patented his creation and began working towards developing even more advanced photographic technology for the company’s future. Kodak’s business operations provided them with a unique advantage over competitors and played a role in their ongoing business growth.

During the 1970’s-1980’s, Kodak faced financial difficulties and recognized the increasing competition that posed a threat to their business. They acknowledged the necessity of implementing significant changes in their company’s structure and product technology in order to ensure the success of the Kodak brand. With the assistance of key individuals, Kodak initiated a restructuring process and embarked on a new endeavor to reclaim their position as the leading manufacturer of photographic equipment and accessories. The integration of digital technology would ultimately determine whether it would make or break the future of Kodak.

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The Kodak Company recognized the significance of gaining a competitive advantage right from the beginning. They established an operational system that streamlined their processes, resulting in cost and time savings. Their initial goals comprised four main objectives. The introduction of mass production was crucial for minimizing production costs, ultimately leading to the early triumph of the Kodak Company. Additionally, their technological strengths were evident due to their dedicated efforts in research and development, enabling them to outpace competitors by offering innovative products to consumers.

One of Kodak’s strengths was their extensive advertising efforts to promote their product advancements. This gave them an advantage in marketing and put them ahead of competitors. Another crucial strength was their expansion into the global market. Kodak aimed to ensure that whenever someone thought of taking a picture, they would automatically associate it with their yellow boxes labeled Kodak. This proved to be an excellent marketing tool as people witnessed others using this invention and felt compelled to own one themselves.

The Kodak brand became widely recognized and profitable for many years. Despite minimal advertising, the presence of Kodak products worldwide served as an effective marketing tool. In the 1970s, Kodak excelled in the design of their 35mm cameras, which were user-friendly compared to competitors’ reflex camera design. In the late 1980s, Kodak utilized its strengths in marketing and research to introduce and promote a newly developed battery.

Kodak collaborated with Matsushita to create batteries for consumer use. Together, they developed a new lithium battery that outlasted any competitor’s conventional battery by more than six times. Kodak successfully promoted these batteries for all electronic devices, gaining a competitive advantage. Moreover, they possessed a significant expertise in information systems. Recognizing the future demand for digital products, Kodak aimed to seize an early opportunity in the technology market, aware of the potential benefits it could bring.

In order to maintain a competitive edge, Kodak opted to acquire companies with expertise in digital technology. This strategy enabled them to dedicate time to enhancing and perfecting the functionality of the newly acquired early digital equipment. By the late 1990s, Kodak had achieved significant success in the market for digital cameras. They garnered popularity amongst consumers and exhibited a distinctive proficiency in digital kiosks for editing and improving photos captured by their cameras. Additionally, their user-friendly software gave them an edge over their competitors in the camera industry.

Colby Chandler aimed to improve the management system of Kodak by addressing its unorganized infrastructure. He focused on two main goals: reducing costs and increasing the company’s flexibility and awareness of competitors. Chandler implemented various programs, such as downsizing the workforce and restructuring operations, to create a more streamlined and efficient system at Kodak.

In the 1960s, Kodak faced several problems and weaknesses. One major issue was the need to design a camera that could rival Polaroid’s popular instant camera. Recognizing the urgency, Kodak understood the importance of not hesitating to enter the instant camera market and compete with Polaroid. Consequently, Kodak eventually filed a lawsuit to obtain a patent for their instant camera design.

Polaroid obtained a successful court ruling against Kodak for violating seven of their patents related to instant cameras. This ruling forced Kodak out of the instant camera market. In the 1980’s, Kodak faced another challenge that threatened the company’s survival. They struggled with weaknesses in research and design. Despite inventing a camera that utilized a smaller negative disk than their popular pocket-sized Instamatic camera, it did not match the sales of the original model.

In its early stages, the company faced significant challenges with its infrastructure, productivity, and the increasing costs of materials for its products. Kodak’s failure in managing new ventures and acquisitions during the late 1980s to the early 1990s can be attributed, in part, to their decision not to provide managers with equity stake in these ventures. To address these issues, Kodak implemented changes in their employee payment structure. Rather than compensating employees based on time worked, they began to reward them based on their performance level.

Kodak had multiple chances to progress the company and expand its product distribution market. One achievement was the adoption of a new corporate strategy by Colby Chandler, which included four short-term goals. These goals consisted of increasing control over their chemical-based imaging business, introducing new products through increased time and focus, becoming the leader in electronic imaging, diversifying into new ventures for increased profitability, and reducing costs while enhancing productivity.

These objectives were crucial for the company’s progress. In just six years, Chandler successfully reorganized the company into four main operating groups, each with a specific focus on internal operations, effectively transforming his vision into reality. Additionally, Kodak seized the opportunity to diversify into the consumer product design sector and ventured into the copier business. Moreover, they extended their investments to sixteen countries beyond the United States, while also experiencing growth in medical imaging.

They took advantage of this chance to create products that were different from what they had done before. Specifically, they came up with laser imaging films and other groundbreaking products that revolutionized the industry. Kodak had acquired expertise in chemistry and biotechnology, which enabled them to bring their inventions into the market. Throughout its lengthy existence, Kodak has successfully overcome numerous challenges to its business survival. One of the initial threats that Kodak promptly recognized was the intense competition posed by new entrants in the film processing market.

Japanese companies including Fuji were able to design cheaper paper for printing film compared to Kodak. This posed a significant challenge for Kodak as it struggled to gain an advantage over its competitors and obtain a share of the market. Additionally, Kodak had to reduce prices and decrease revenue in order to remain competitive with other photographic product companies amidst an increasing level of competition. Furthermore, the company faced a major threat from the introduction of substitute products by other firms.

The development and production of imaging equipment saw a rise, with the introduction of portable video cameras allowing consumers to easily capture their own images and videos. Kodak acknowledged falling behind in improving technology compared to competitors and the rapid shift from analog to digital. However, Kodak’s managers failed to perceive the rapid changes in digital technology and the increasing threats that lay ahead if they did not act promptly.

In 1988, Sony posed a threat to Kodak by introducing an electronic camera capable of capturing and showcasing pictures on a TV screen. Kodak recognized the urgent need to make moves in imaging technology and shifted their focus towards communications. At the same time, expanding their core photographic products business brought challenges to Kodak as fierce competition from IBM, Apple, and Sun hindered the market share they fought for. Being relatively inexperienced in the field, Kodak faced a formidable group of dedicated companies with extensive research and expertise.

In 2006, Kodak encountered financial issues as their investment in the digital camera market did not yield a strong range of digital products for future success. The company faced a notable threat from competitors who consistently enhanced their technology and efficiently managed operations, enabling them to offer their products at lower prices compared to Kodak.

Colby Chandler implemented a restructuring plan for Kodak with the objective of diminishing top-level management control and distributing decision-making authority to lower level managers. The company was divided into seventeen operational areas, including marketing, finance, planning, manufacturing, and research and development. Competition and integration within the organization were the driving factors behind Chandler’s decision to modify the company’s structure.

According to Chandler, implementing changes in these tasks would enhance efficiency, control, and structure within Kodak and pave the way for future innovation. This focused approach in each department would lead to overall operational efficiency across all areas. By giving each department control over every aspect, all employees within the company would be well-informed and better equipped to handle any unforeseen situations. Chandler played a significant role in assisting Kodak with the implementation of new organizational control techniques.

Kodak implemented the “office of submitted ideas” technique, which involved screening outside projects within the company. This served as a concurrent control method as it allowed them to monitor ongoing activities. Around three thousand project proposals were received by Kodak, but only thirty successfully passed the screening process. They also employed quantitative control techniques to closely manage revenue and budgeting for their projects. However, as digital technology advanced, it became apparent that Kodak lacked other control techniques. This left them unprepared when competing companies began introducing their products to the market. Throughout its history, Kodak has achieved considerable success in marketing and selling its products, but there are areas in the company that I would personally improve. Competitors of Kodak continue to develop cameras with appealing designs and user-friendly buttons and software.

Enhancing the appeal of Kodak’s digital cameras to potential customers could prove advantageous. This could involve altering certain design materials. Moreover, increasing advertising endeavors on television and other media platforms is warranted as the absence of recent Kodak advertisements has been noted. It is crucial for them to maintain their advertising campaigns in order to remain present in consumers’ thoughts when they are prepared to buy.

I believe it is important for Kodak to invest more time in enhancing their control techniques, particularly through conducting surveys among potential buyers of digital cameras. This would provide valuable insights to help improve various aspects of their cameras. Additionally, I recommend that Kodak allocate more financial resources towards research and development in order to design innovative products that cater to consumer needs and surpass competitors. By offering unique features that competitors have not yet considered, Kodak can gain a competitive advantage and achieve high profitability. Furthermore, Kodak can explore the option of selling their cameras in bundle packages.

Many camera companies still sell cameras and accessories separately, but consumers prefer having everything included in one package at an affordable price. This can be a great marketing tool during holidays to increase sales. I believe that Kodak will continue to lead in digital photography. Despite facing challenges, they have consistently competed with other established designers and new market entrants, ensuring their survival.

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The Eastman Kodak Company. (2018, Feb 17). Retrieved from

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