Open your wallet and take out a $20.00 bill. Think of what you can buy with it: an 8gb thumb-drive, dinner for two at Wendy's, perhaps an Old Navy hoodie, if they are on sale.
Now, imagine that, before you spend that Twenty, you have to give $17.96 to a creditor. You'll have to break a sh-tload of Andrew Jacksons to buy that hoodie if you only own $2.04 out of each one.
So goes the financial health of Eastman-Kodak, which, for 115 years was the biggest swinging d--k in the consumer photography market. Their corporate assets of 9.146 billion dollars is crippled by over $8 billion in debt.
Every year, Kodak's operating cost outpaces their income by 442 million bucks. With just $961 million in equity, Kodak will be able to drain its checking account with an ATM card by the end of 2011.
How could this happen? Hold your ears, friends, because I am going to scream: "By failing to react to competitors' innovations!"
Once every 52 billion times a company is founded, it hits the road-to-riches lottery by inventing a product or service that the disposable-income-holding public can't live without. And time and time again, it seems, this lucky company thinks that, since good fortune sh-t on their heads once, all they'll need to do is keep the factory open, and a Brinks truck will show up twice a week to dump an assload of money on the loading dock.
"Stay the course," says Kodak, and Blockbuster Video, and Woolworth's, and Bethlehem Steel and 650,000 other business that made their founders rich, only to f - - k over their employees and shareholders once the Gravy Train derails.
Kodak's common stock is selling for a toasted bagel with butter: $4.15 yesterday. This is a stock that was trading at $15.00 in 1944!! And 15 Truman-era dollars could've bought you a house and a 4-door Packard, practically.
Kodak has been screwed since Reagan was President. Current CEO Antonio Perez has been trying to cut a U-turn with a battleship since 2005, instituting a new and different restructuring plan each and every year that is discussed at Kodak's annual shareholders meeting as "Lessons Learned From Last Year's Debacle."
Until Kodak begins a restructuring plan with, "Step 1, Get in a time machine and go back to 1994, so we can fix our trillion-dollar error of ignoring the digital photography market until we're bankrupt," they are just treading water in the bowl of a flushed toilet.
Question 1: What was the brand of your first digital camera? Sure as hell wasn't Kodak, was it?
Kodak's strategy was to wait for the 45,000 digital camera competitors to sort the industry out. Once they've cannibalized themselves, mighty Kodak was going to sweep in and take over. (That worked well.)
And, until then, Kodak's plan was to maintain their world domination in the conventional photography market.
Question 2a: Do you have a traditional Kodak camera? 2b: Have you used it, even once, since you got your digital camera?
Everyone in the universe has a Kodak camera, some series 126 film, and a box of MagicCubes in a box in the basement, right next to their fondue pot. But no one uses them, and why would you?
Because, if my choice is to use a camera whose film gives me 24 pictures, costs me 8 bucks and 5 days to develop, or my $100 digital camera with a 4gb SD card that takes 7,500 beautiful, clear digital photos, and cost $0.00 to develop, I'll choose . . . Well, the world's consumers have written the ending to that sentence.
The marketplace has voted, and here's the current state of conventional photography: On June 22, 2009, Kodak announced that it will retire Kodachrome color film, their sales leader for seventy-four years.
Swirl that one around in your mouth, readers of a certain age: Kodak doesn't make Kodachrome film anymore.
Kodak will die. Soon.
PS: That's right, I said it. Kodak's inaction cost them one trillion dollars. $1,000,000,000,000. That is what Kodak could have made if would have maintained the same 94% market share they enjoyed in conventional photography into the digital photography market. The executive team who missed that boat should face lethal injection. Kodak may have been the second greatest American brands of the 20th century, behind Coca-Cola.
And they squandered it.