I’m guessing the term “Kodak moment” doesn’t have much meaning to the younger crowd these days. As a matter fact, I'm thinking that within the next 10 years or so the term will fade into oblivion. However, for those of us who have been around the block a few times the term a “Kodak moment” probably holds a special place in our hearts.
I can still recall some of the commercials that depicted smiling faces of strangers as Kodak pitched their film to the masses. It was usually those of smiling faces of families as they snapped away at their kids coming of age moments or grandmas 80th birthday party. If you're over the age of 40, I’m willing to bet you might have a couple of pictures of your own that you consider Kodak moments stashed away in an album or old suitcase tucked away in a closet or gathering dust somewhere down in the basement.
This might seem hard to believe but as recently as 1976 Kodak controlled 90% of the US film market and were making money hand over fist for their investors. Today, they are looking at filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy. So, what happened?
And you know the surest way to go broke? Keep getting an increasing share of a shrinking market. Down the tubes. Slow but sure. You know, at one time there must've been dozens of companies making buggy whips. And I'll bet the last company around was the one that made the best goddamn buggy whip you ever saw. Now how would you have liked to have been a stockholder in that company? You invested in a business and this business is dead. Let's have the intelligence, let's have the decency to sign the death certificate, collect the insurance, and invest in something with a future. " – Danny Devito excerpt from the 1991 movie Other People’s Money.
I guess you could say that Kodak got caught with its pants down with the arrival of the “digital age” but that wouldn’t be entirely true. You see, Kodak was among one of the first companies to get digital patents over 40 years ago. Then, for some reason they decided to do absolutely nothing with them. They decided to stick with the horse they rode in on and relied on film sales and developing and their brand name to carry them into the future.
What a monumental mistake. Today, digital cameras are relatively cheap. There is no such thing a “wasted shot” since the images they produce can be erased with the click of button and even most cell phones come with some type of camera built into them and are carried as a matter of routine. Take a look around, at any notable event with a sizable crowd you can see tons of people pointing their phones at the goings on and clicking away
Today, I don’t think Kodak even makes film anymore. I don’t know what they’re doing in terms of sales but I do know that the company, in its 131st year of existence is probably going to be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange. Shares of Kodak have plummeted and have traded below $1.00 for the last 30 days.
For now, it looks like Kodak’s moment in the sun has been pitched into darkness.
I dunno, to me there’s something special about holding a picture in my hands rather than looking at an image on a screen. Somehow it feels more tangible and real to me. I can’t alter a picture the way I can an image and I’m okay with that. I know what I’m holding hasn’t been photo shopped or altered and what you see is what you get, warts and all.
As of the middle of last year I decided to take a quantum leap into the year 2000 and now have a cell phone replete with a camera in it.
I’ve yet to use it to take a picture.