Interesting machinations at Kodak

Discussion in 'Kodak' started by Mark Roberts, Nov 5, 2003.

  1. Mark Roberts

    Gordon Moat Guest

    I see the manufacturing aspect somewhat similar to LCD monitor production.
    While the technologies are different, the yield and production problems point
    the way for pricing and quality changes in the future. Manufacturing
    techniques get better all the time, so we should expect future improvements.
    My personal feeling is that fixed chip digital cameras are a dead end. Of
    course, I am considering this from a professional (profit margin) level, and
    the experience of using some digital SLRs in the last six years. I would
    rather invest in medium format gear, have better digital backs, and get the
    latest on a lease upgrade or change. Of course, these are not good options for
    enthusiasts. The other thing is that medium format digital colour quality
    blows 35 mm sized digital SLR technology completely out of the room.
    Glad to be of help.

    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    Gordon Moat, Nov 8, 2003
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  2. Mark Roberts

    Nils Rostedt Guest

    Gordon Moat wrote :
    Great post, it's so rare to see future-oriented subjects being discussed
    with this level of insight.
    I agree re. investors, but as regards companies, I'd say their policy varies
    a lot. Some companies are more silent, some pursue offensive "make the
    market" strategies. The smart ones do both, very cunningly. And sometimes
    owners start messing up the strategies....
    Looking again over the fence to cellular phones, today there are about 1.3
    billion of them globally, and their users evidently have the power supply
    issue solved. And by 2008 the estimation is something like 700 million new
    users, mostly in emerging markets. I guess those forecasters have given the
    power supply issue some attention. So if that can happen, it should be
    possible for digital cameras too (buzz: fuel cell??).

    Actually, I'd like to know how many cameras are sold in the world annually
    (including disposables) and what is today's estimated global user base (say,
    those people shooting at least one film /disposable each year). I think
    those figures exist in the public domain somewhere. Are there any public
    estimates for those numbers in, say, 2013?
    Great observation. So that's why our office supplier insist that only Canon
    paper must be used in our copying machines. But still, that same business
    model can just as well be applied to a digital printing kiosk as to a
    chemical minilab.
    I'm sorry, I have no use for that one, now or in 2013. But you may then send
    me a ten year old bottle of Scotch instead ;-)


    Nils Rostedt, Nov 8, 2003
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  3. Mark Roberts

    Bob Monaghan Guest

    for stats, see

    the key stat is that 17 billion photos/yr in USA from 177 million cameras
    works out to less than 100 photos per camera per year; and that the
    average USA household spends less than $38 per year on photography,
    shooting again only 4 rolls of film per year...

    Unfortunately, the break-even point for a digital camera of the quality to
    replace the millions of film based SLRs and decent P&S cameras out there
    is too high, esp. if you factor in all the hidden costs from obsolescence
    to ink and paper prices to labor to software learning curves etc. If you
    are doing volume photo numbers, digital may be useful and cost effective.
    But if you are the average person shooting a few rolls per year, your
    current film based camera is likely to be good enough for a long time IMHO

    With 3 MP cameras advertised new on TV for under $100 US$, just what do
    digital folks people are waiting for? Digital remains too complicated,
    and too tied to other support systems (computer setup, high speed access,
    and local printing kiosks/mini-labs..).

    THe very vast majority of photo users in the third world, cf. china, per
    Kodak's projections, are for a few rolls per year, as with the "saturated"
    USA market ;-) That kind of photo taking activity is a lot better match
    for low tech disposable cameras and film than a digital camera and laptop
    and printer and ....

    my $.02 ;-)

    Bob Monaghan, Nov 10, 2003
  4. I bought our first digicam three years ago, and tried in vain for two years
    to talk my wife into switching from film to digital. After two years, I
    pointed out to her that the two years of digital photos I had made had
    been more fun and useful to the whole family than ALL our stacks of
    film prints sitting in boxes in the closet. She was sold, and we each got
    new digicams last Christmas. The typical family simply does not bother
    to dig out and scan through all those rolls and rolls of paper photos. But
    when you have a computer, or a DVD player (and people are buying
    those no matter what digital photography does), you can pop in 1000
    photos on a CD and view to your heart's content. We recently had a
    number of relatives who live far away come back for a funeral. While
    they were here, the whole family got together at our house. My wife
    and I circulated and took a whole bunch of shots of everybody, and I
    burned them all on CD and made copies for everyone while they were
    still here. The value and convenience of those unreproducable shots to
    everybody is inestimable, and it cost me only a half dozen blank CDs.
    Film can't touch that. Digital photos are ACCESSABLE in a way that
    film prints will never, can never, be.
    What makes you think those millions of typical people need, or would
    even appreciate, the difference in quality between a low cost digicam and
    a film SLR? For every pro or serious hobbiest, there are thousands and
    thousands of simple P&S'ers, happy with disposable camera quality,
    because it's easy and convenient. Kodak's camera division would have
    been out of business years ago if this were not true.
    They're not waiting, digicams are selling like hotcakes, and sales are
    increasing. But, like my wife, it is not immediately obvious to everyone
    exactly what all the benefits of digital are. Right now digital camera
    manufacturers are spending lots of money to tell them.
    They only take a few rolls per year because film/printing is expensive
    and they do largely recognize that those expensive prints will mostly
    sit in the closet like ours do. Film will not always offer finer detail,
    digital will not always cost more to obtain. Digital simply blows film
    away on convenience and cost per photo. As people apprehend the true
    convenience and long term economy of digital, the film/digital market
    will go the way of LP/cassette/CD, VHS/DVD and every other such
    revolution in the history of technology. It's not a matter of 'if', but 'how
    rapidly'. That depends on the digital cost/performance curve, and how
    quickly digital benefits overcome people's natural resistance to change.
    But our culture is literally addicted to change like no other culture in
    history, and to instant gratification, and technology progresses at an
    astonishing, ever increasing pace. I just don't see it taking a very long
    time. :)
    Judson McClendon, Nov 10, 2003
  5. Mark Roberts

    Gordon Moat Guest

    Power supply is readily available in the Western world, with a few exceptions.
    Contrast that with Africa, for example, where outside major cities, a hand
    crank powered radio would be a luxury. One big problem is establishing an
    infrastructure of power grids, and even the terrain can make that difficult.
    Though an excellent comparison is GlobalStar, and Loral. They felt that there
    was a need for communications where physical lines could not be placed. Their
    solution involved satellites and small hand sets. The other part of that was
    satellite phone booths, that were also solar powered. The idea of the phone
    booths was one to a village, but so far, none of this has happened.

    When people travel very little, and can easily talk face to face to others in
    their village, there is little incentive to have phones of any kind. However,
    travelling to the closest city might be a once a month big event, so things
    that coincide with that trip might be marketable.
    Solar powered? Anyway, you still need to create a perceived "need" for items.
    Phones are for the moment, while photos can record personal history. Which is
    Check the next post from Bob M.
    Yeah, but consider that casual users might only shoot one to five rolls of film
    a year. Having a disposable camera that does not need recharging, or fresh
    batteries, can be easier for recording personal history. Current minilabs can
    mostly handle CD-Rs and memory cards, so an expected emerging tourist market
    (of Westerners) could add to local income.
    Fair enough . . . . . though if I am right, you will get a couple pictures
    instead . . . one of the 10 year old Scotch, and another with me drinking it .
    .. . . . . ;-)

    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    Gordon Moat, Nov 11, 2003
  6. Mark Roberts

    Gordon Moat Guest

    Consider that the hope of marketing is to create a perceived "need" for a
    product. Make it seem that digital images are "better", and you begin to
    create that "need" in the minds of some consumers.

    The instant gratification argument used by the next poster is interesting.
    Unfortunately, I see that aspect as short lived for most, and too much like
    the Polaroid model. Constantly redefining the "gadget" status of an item will
    not ensure survival on the market. Direct digital imaging is under threat of
    wireless imaging, and may be surpassed, and "obsoleted" very soon.
    Same as that blinking "12:00" on the VCR is now a blinking "12:00" on a DVD
    player. ;-)

    This is technology backlash, where people do get frustrated with technology.
    Even people who use computers all day at work want to get away from them.
    I find myself mostly in agreement with you here, but the "digivangelists"
    will see it differently. Emerging photo markets will be driven by a personal
    need to record personal history, and to share the images from that. The
    gadget aspect may be lost before it ever gets there.


    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    Gordon Moat, Nov 11, 2003
  7. Mark Roberts

    Deathwalker Guest

    two quick points

    1. not everyone in africa lives in a mud hut you know. You can blame the
    media and charity organisations for that. Legend has it that over there are
    buildings over 2 stories high.

    Actually towns and the odd skyscraper do exist. Only if it was generally
    known that there are adequately well off people who ignore their own then
    westerners would be a lot less sympathetic. As usual the there are haves
    and have nots. We only get to see the have nots.

    2. If you live in the middle of nowhere and have to walk 10 miles to the
    nearest water supply a disposable camera and then a trek to the minilab are
    not high on your list of priorities. It would probably take 6 months wages
    to buy one anyway then another six months for the processing.

    So in summary all this so called high powered investor research should
    involve some geography lessons.
    Deathwalker, Nov 11, 2003
  8. Mark Roberts

    Gordon Moat Guest

    Sorry if I made it seem that way, as that was not my intention. Most of the
    population is rural, rather than urban. While many have running water,
    electrical power is a separate issue. Another issue is transportation. Very
    similar situations in China, and parts of South America.

    What generated my recent interest in this earlier this year was viewing some
    images of photos done by children in africa, asia, south and central america,
    and the middle east. All of the images were from disposable cameras. Many of
    the cameras did not get returned, but the ones that did showed a personal view
    of the life of these children. All was not despair and poverty, as some media
    views like to popularize. Many showed very happy people in their daily lives.

    The other thing that has generated my interest has been images of old style
    travelling street photographers. These guys operate similar to photographers
    almost a century ago in the western world. How they are doing this stuff, or
    getting supplies, I do not know, but apparently there is an interest in
    photography, and images.

    Please continue reading. I think you have pointed out some important issues
    that deserve further discussion.
    Absolutely. The division between have and have nots is large, and few reside in
    that middle area. Of course, this is not exclusive to the third world, and many
    parts of the Western world are evolving in that direction.
    Sure. All that needs to be balanced against decisions to enter a market. It is
    a huge risk to try and establish any business in a market. The companies that
    take that risk might succeed, and change a market, but to fail may mean that
    other companies are less willing to attempt it. This goes for any business, and
    not just cameras.

    Placing businesses into a market can drive a local economy. This is much more
    than just selling someone a product. There is a need to establish employment in
    an area prior to generating any profits, and it could take a couple years
    before there is a profit. Hopefully, the employment could improve the quality
    of life in these areas. And what I mean by that is allowing free time for other
    activities. It does not take money to improve quality of life, yet imparting
    some measure of security, improving confidence, a sense of accomplishment, etc.
    can help.

    Which brings me back to something else I mentioned, the likelihood of companies
    taking risks that do not show quarterly gains. If companies are too driven by
    quarterly performance, then taking the emerging markets risk is less likely.
    Absolutely. I can only type so much in a few messages, so obviously there are
    many issues that could be stated in a better manner. This is a conversation
    that is difficult to adequately discuss in a few typed messages. The same is
    true of market research reports. Most of those are summaries of summaries, and
    many details are left out.

    Basically, the reason there are stated "emerging markets" is due to the future
    potential of some areas. There will always be places where no companies will
    invest, or take risks, and those areas may never change. The areas where the
    new risks are taken could prosper or fail, but I think those risks should be

    If all that is done is to keep boosting the western world, then we risk
    alienating the rest of the world. Who better to take chances than large
    corporations; they can afford to have several failures and a few successes.


    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    Gordon Moat, Nov 11, 2003
  9. Mark Roberts

    Deathwalker Guest

    I believe kodak have done the right thing by investing in digital. I buy
    their glossy paper. They even have a page on their site on how to calibrate
    your printer to their paper. I now get results that surpass dearer 3rd
    party paper. The only canon paper pro i used was the sample stuff enclosed.

    Kodaks share price dropped in the short term due to their 1 billion
    investment in digital which meant a lower dividend end of year per share. I
    imagine that would reduce their value. Obviously the money markets looking
    at the short term.

    The main points i raised were in response to the "lucky to have a
    handcranked radio". If that is true then access to a minilab is unlikely.
    Same goes for powersupplies. Which is pre requisite for a minilab.
    £250,000 lab running off a £250 petrol generator? nah!

    Haves and have nots. On an individual basis maybe in western world but
    people here are worried that rural areas may not get broadband due to
    economics therefore subsidies. There is also the nhs and social security.
    All in all if a town in england had a major disaster there would be plenty
    of aid available concerts benefits etc. Not to mention military engineers
    and volunteers going in to clean up and money made available and emergency
    plans for food etc. The media make out that africa is one big mud hut
    township. It took a media teacher at college to point out the difference
    and the reasons for the purveying perceptions. Otherwise why aren't the
    bastards in the big towns supplying money for water pipes etc. You see all
    these people slogging away with pick axes. English volunteers joining in.
    yeah took us six months by hand. All it takes is one local corporation to
    lend a JCB for a week and job done. I despair of the human race i really

    In view of that this talk of exploiting emerging markets. The main players
    shouldn't be kodak it should be JCB, Caterpillar etc.
    Deathwalker, Nov 12, 2003
  10. Mark Roberts

    Gordon Moat Guest

    Awesome, and thanks for the reply.
    Very true and this goes back to the quarterly performance versus longer term
    investment. Kodak has been a good long term company, though they have made some
    strange short term decisions. They could do better having someone else writing
    press releases, or just keep quiet about some things

    Kodak have been heavy into digital for well over a decade, but the way their
    latest press releases read, make some think this is all new. I think they did a
    poor job explaining things, and got hammered by "buy on the rumour, sell on the
    news" mentality. I am glad to see they are actually looking at future ideas,
    and investing in them.
    Okay, perhaps that was a bit over dramatic, but I put it that way to emphasize
    a point. As you pointed out, the really tough economic areas are unlikely to be
    emerging markets.
    Distribution and access are major issues. There was an initiative many years
    ago to establish roving doctors on motorcycles in parts of Africa. Though
    greeted with much early scepticism, that managed to become a reality.
    Unfortunately, there was not much direct financial incentive, though this
    proved that a few with good intentions and ideas can make something succeed. Of
    course, photography is far from a humanitarian venture, though it could be used
    to influence humanitarian decisions.
    Too many conflicting priorities. In California, as soon as an event is no
    longer of local concern, or not worthy of more conversation, then it is
    forgotten. Short term memory prevails, and too often the moment is vastly more
    important than the future, or anything happening somewhere else. As long as it
    is not in someone's back yard, the attitude is often "who cares".
    Yeah, a really poor representation of reality. The major media have little
    interest, and the lesser media is not widely enough read. There are plenty of
    photojournalists willing to go places, but little incentive to report reality.
    Very true. This was one aspect of that photo project I mentioned. The shots
    coming out of Africa were not of mud huts, but more like houses in the low
    income areas of Tijuana (close enough to where I live). However, there were
    still happy people in some images, and it seemed vastly more genuine than the
    Absolutely . . . some really sad crap happening. I briefly tried to work on
    getting some projects going for Pitcairn Island a couple years ago. There were
    many obstacles (too many), and in the end lots of effort ran against the
    interests of a few, and solutions could not be worked out. While that is not
    the third world, it does show that there are many barriers to getting things

    The amount of money some companies spend on advertising and publicity could
    easily pay for some projects. Those projects could generate lots of free press,
    and in the end probably generate more interest in the company. I have to think
    that attitudes prevent things, rather than a lack of economic incentive.
    Absolutely. The original thread looked at ten years from now. Lots could be
    accomplished in ten years, but only if some development risks are taken. In
    some areas, I think that may never happen. It is too easy for some to sweep
    away the rest of the world, until it comes into their back yard.


    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    Gordon Moat, Nov 12, 2003
  11. Mark Roberts

    Deathwalker Guest

    I just read a book called the one minute millionaire. Real estate - It does
    point out buying in a possible emerging market that would be cheap once
    developed sell for a killing. There should be local African entrepreneurs
    laying down water pipes etc and building in these "mud hut" areas. Land
    would be dirt cheap (literally) and introducing amenities and wealth into
    the area should benefit the locals (hopefully).

    Anyway back to photography. Extreme poverty out of the way what emerging
    markets are we talking about? Cyprus? Brazil? Croatia serbia etc? I can
    see the former yugoslavia rebuilding providing lots of photo opps. They
    even have oil refinery's out there so electricity shouldn't be a problem.
    Looking at the leica threads and an ap review on something called the "big
    six" and the "big tlr" etc looks like they have an emerging cheap copy
    medium format situation going. Maybe medium format could be big overthere.
    Deathwalker, Nov 12, 2003
  12. Mark Roberts

    Gordon Moat Guest

    I see a little of this similar situation happening south of the border in the
    Baja California area of Mexico. Unfortunately, things slowed down when the
    economy got a bit worse after late 2000. Hopefully, it might pick up again in
    the near future.
    In eastern Europe, I would say former Yugoslavia republics would be one area.
    Already Slovenia is doing fairly well. With some of the other areas, the issue
    of protecting company assets and banking is not fully resolved. Companies do
    not want to worry about loosing their investments, nor do they want unfair
    competition, nor too many restrictions. A stable economy also helps, as
    evidenced by improvements in Slovenia.

    Czech Republic seems to be on the verge of emerging. Some of the former Baltic
    States also look to be improving.

    In South America, Brazil would probably be the biggest and most stable market.
    With Venezuela and Columbia, if there was more stability, perhaps. Argentina,
    Chile, and Ecuador could improve as well, though a more stable local economy
    for each would greatly help encourage outside investments. Most of these
    countries are more likely to see changes in and around their major cities.

    The biggest is probably China, and also has the most potential. Transportation
    problems (distribution) is an issue for many areas, but there are also several
    large cities that could do well. Once again, government barriers to investment
    still exist, but those seem to get worked out eventually.

    Parts of India are also benefiting from more investments, though mostly in high
    technology endeavours. However, the current success can lead to more expansion
    and efforts. Successful efforts tend to attract many different businesses. The
    other big plus for photography in the Indian market is the predominance of the
    India film industry (Bollywood). The interest in images is great, though some
    players have been in that market for years already. Future changes could be
    more of an expansion, and less risky.
    China could be the next big camera market. Lots of camera gear is made there
    now, though some of that information is not widely mentioned. Chinese product
    quality can only improve. Historically, even Japanese cameras were once thought
    to be inferior products, so it is conceivable that high quality Chinese cameras
    will arrive. The biggest possible challenge for outside companies, like Kodak
    and Fuji, is that a local Chinese film company could control the market. Once
    again, the government can determine the future direction.


    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    Gordon Moat, Nov 12, 2003
  13. Mark Roberts

    Lewis Lang Guest

    Subject: Re: Interesting machinations at Kodak
    Maybe Kodak should go into the camera phone business as (one of) its major
    digital directions. Tie that in with their Ofoto (? is that what they own?) and
    they could have camera phones that not only send pictures (to other phones,
    e-mail/etc.) but prints too :).

    Soon the phone will be everything (its already more than halfway there
    anyways)... typewriter, camera, LeapPad, web browser, PDA, word processor,
    Calendar, printer (for smaller tickets and 4x6" prints) movies and audio on
    demand, have "radio channels" and "television channels" (including HBO/etc.) a
    la satellite radio and Direct TV, be able to be used as portable video
    projectors (when a special AC power adapter is used or with its newly developed
    Ultra Trans Conductance Nirtrium "Power Batter" and dispense anything and
    everything, including Cafe late's when hooked up to the nearest Starbuck's ATM
    machine (or "LDM" "Late Dispenser Machine" ;-))...

    It will even be able to take 35mm format lenses but alas, will still continue
    to have over a 3x magnifcation factor when used with their tiny sensors and
    noise at higher I.S.O.s, some things never change ;-)

    Lewis Lang, Nov 12, 2003
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