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Can Kodak survive 2012?

Troll through any of the major online cameras, modelling and photography sites, and you will see a very clear trend. Many skilled photographers will now include one or more shots in their portfolio that look like they were taken in the 1970s, using a Kodak Instamatic camera. Having pioneered the business model of ‘sell the expensive thing cheap, so people can buy tons of high margin consumables’, is the company now in serious trouble? KitGuru scans some old Polaroids and ponders the present.

Sites like Business Week, were reporting on Kodak’s woes as long ago as 2005. It allowed the financial hacks to break out puns like ‘Tense Kodak moment’. But, 7 years on, the company is still rolling forward. Somehow.

When reporting on Kodak’s trouble, the stories quoted Kodak’s ubiquitous printing booths and the launch of a new Wi-Fi enabled camera (that could send pics direct to the web) as the ‘shining stars’ in its portfolio.

But how many people living through the Facebook revolution actually want to print pictures?

And can you think of another device, that you carry everywhere, that allows you to take photos and post them online while mobile?

In focusing on ‘ways to print pics’ and ‘single function wi-fi cameras’ in a world that was hurtling headlong toward multi-mega-pixel smartphones, shows the kind of leadership that Kodak’s board was exhibiting.

Microsoft will probably survive its screw ups in failing to get a strong foothold in the mobile OS market.

Intel will almost certainly come gunning for ARM et all in the ultra-small-CPUs-for-phones space.

But can Kodak initiate a company-saving plan before being consigned the way of the Dodo?

Not easily.

While the company’s share price might have fallen from $90 a share in 1997 to just under 80 cents a share right now, a whopping 80% of that drop has happened in the past 12 months. Not good. Not good at all.

When will the final Kodak moment happen?

KitGuru says: With such a huge brand, not only will the ‘post-Kodak’ market be able to tap into 18,000 trained employees, but there will be multiple patents available and a heap of real assets that have been underpinning the value of the company in recent times. It’s going to be tough for this proud company to become a minor brand in another portfolio, but that does seem to be the likely result.

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