Oh, Kodak, once the acme of all things camera, now a stark lesson in Darwinism in technology. You adapt and evolve, or you die. It was revealed today that Kodak is shedding more than $US70 million a month. Let's hold hands.
Kodak insists there is no impending bankrupcy, and that they have $US862 million in cash, but bleeding money at the rate they are, that won't last them through 2012. Maybe that's what the Mayans were pointing toward this whole time: the end of an epoch, the death of a king. At the time of this writing, Kodak is valued at $US1.05.
The sad thing is not just that Kodak was great in the past. They're still making some fantastic things — like the highly revered image sensor in the Leica S2 — they're just not making any money off them. Their plan to get back into the black? They hope to win patent lawsuits against Apple and RIM. Yes, because Apple is very easy to sue. Oh, and they still have printers! Just like HP still has printers. Sigh.
Kodak isn't dead, but the time for resuscitation is rapidly running out. The laws of evolution have caught up to them. Unless they come up with something new and wonderful that everybody wants, they will be a memory. I'm not going to wax nostalgic about Kodak's long history — Michael Hiltzik's LA Times article did a better job of that than I could have — but I will say this: we see companies go the way of the dodo all the time, and usually they're met with a shrug. Kodak is different. They are a well-entrenched part of American (and global) history. When it goes we'll feel just that much further away from the Norman Rockwell paintings of yesterday. [LA Times]