In January, the long time leader in the photo/camera industry filled for the Chapter 11 and is shutting down a lot of divisions to arrive afloat for the bankruptcy. It’s even selling more than 1,100 digital image patents to cover the continuos quarterly loss. The company has around $5.1 billion in asset but $6.8 billion in debt.
Yes, Eastman Kodak the company that has invented among other things, the digital camera and handheld camera, files for bankruptcy, after having innnovated for more than 130 years. Recently, the company has been struggling for years, to adapt to an increasingly digital world; since 2003 it has closed 13 manufacturing plants, 130 processing labs and reduced the workforce by 47,000. In some ways it reminds me Apple in 1996. Apple created the PC market, and Kodak created the camera film back in 1880, they both lost their soul at one point. I hope Kodak can find it again, as Apple did. A Kodak camera was used on the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.
It’s always sad when you see an iconic brand, which somehow I assimilate with my childhood’s memories, going away, forever. I beat, everybody will recoginze this:
Kodak has already done a big pivot to save itself. Instead of designing it’s own cameras, will try to license its own brand to other camera makers, also in the last decate they put a lot of effort in the printing business. As they mentioned in the Chapter 11 petition; since 2003 the company have invested havily in inkjet printers and has been working to transform itself from a business primarly based on film and consumer photography to a smaller business with a digital growth strategy focused on the commmercialization of proprietary digital imaging and printing technologies.
In the near future no one will print photos regurarly, like we did in late ‘90 with every camera roll, our camera roll is now digital, we store the best pictures in the cloud, shared via Dropbox, Box or iCloud and add them to our digital photo frame. Actually it was this transition from film to digital that has led some problems to Kodak back at the beginning of the millenium. BUT… I believe that we’ll still print few amazing pictures that we want to keep forever, and print them in a huge size to attach them on the wall of our bedrooms or living rooms, like a wallpaper.
They basically need to trasform a camera roll (and all the fuctionalities realted with the priting) into an API. And it’s because of all the know-how they have, IPs, the brand and 10 years of investments in the printing business that they should leverage all this, and become a platform, in the cloud, by launching a set of APIs and beginning with a RESTful Print API.
For example a simple Kodak Print API could have these Endpoints:
Kodak APIs can be a big business since the beginnng. They can integrate their APIs into Facebook, Instagram, dating sites, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Posterous, Foursquare, Flickr and any web and mobile app that has photos as part of their core. This means, reaching almost the entire Internet population = 2 billion of people.
I think that those people are willing to print at least the 2 best pictures every year and have them shipped at home as a big wallpaper. By providing a frustration-free way to print and ship your best moments, without even leave the site you are in, you’re going to increase the conversion of people that will pay Kodak to have this kind of all-inclusive service.
Only via APIs you can achieve that kind of integration into third party products and platforms.
Assuming that the avarage price per order is $25 and that out of 2 billion potential customers only 1% are going to effectively buy the service (two times a year); this is what comes out:
Yearly Revenue? $25 “price” x 2 “orders/year” x 20M “1% of 2 billion people” = $1 billion.
The new printing era is via APIs, and Kodak still has a big brand and know-how to leverage worldwide.
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