Something many of us in the photography industry saw coming for a while now has finally happened: Eastman Kodak Company is preparing to seek bankruptcy protection in the coming weeks.
Kodak is hoping to sell off some of its 1,100 patents in a court-supervised auction and if it succeeds, it could avoid Chapter 11 bankruptcy. But as we've seen in the past with other companies, many times this just buys a little time. When asked about the matter, a Kodak spokesperson apparently said Kodak "does not comment on market rumor or speculation." Well isn't that nice? Not only did the company sell out and turn its back on traditional film photographers, now it won't even acknowledge its own demise.
Kodak's problems started in the 1980's when it started losing market share in film due to foreign competitors. Instead of focusing all of its attention on what it did best, it began dabbling in other markets until 2003 when the company announced it would stop making investments in film. At that point, they sold out. They turned their back on us, abandoned film, and went off into La-La Land. Kodak went from dominating the film industry to selling bathroom cleaners, medical supplies, and consumer printers, losing money every year but one since CEO Antonio Perez took over in 2005. Robert Shanebrook, a former Kodak employee said he "didn't want to stick around for the demise" when he learned Kodak would stop making investments in film.
Because the company has been so poorly run and has failed miserably at being able to adapt to rapidly changing technology in the photography industry, a takeover by another company is very unlikely. So now we'll sit back and watch as this tragedy unfolds. A sad end to the legacy of a company once regarded as the Apple or Google of its day.