I never have been a camera bug. I remember my hand-me-down Kodak Brownie camera when I was about 8 years old. The camera was fun for a while but I had to wait weeks (and sometimes months) before we remembered there were pictures in the bin at the drug store to pick up. So, my interest faded. Working in Dad’s drugstore as a teen, I spent much of my time selling film. The 126 cartridge was the most popular for Kodak’s latest and greatest Instamatic camera. However, there was still a wait for your photographs before one could see the captured “Kodak Moments”. We sold some other film at the drugstore (like Fujifilm) but that seemed to be really for the most cost-conscious. Kodak was favored by far.
Kodak was one of the most valuable companies in 1996. In 2012, they filed for bankruptcy and are still recovering. As our shift to the digital age was just beginning, their incredible engineers were among the first (if not THE first) to develop digital technology photography. It seems the decision was made to sit on that technology so as not to interfere with their lucrative analog film, development and printing business model.
Kodak’s business model had been targeted at housewives for years. After all, it was the matriarchs that kept the history of the family while Dad was out working. Think back (if you’re old enough) and you’ll probably recall Mom jumping for the camera first to capture and chronicle the family’s events. Then, households changed, Mom was working too, so the entire family had to capture their own “moments”.
We don’t have “moments” anymore because we share everything. In our digital world, “selfies” are the new norm. We can share any and everything, every second. What my parents preached against is here: Instant gratification. Digital cameras arrived on the scene in the 90’s with a sizable price tag, and we were able to capture our moments quickly and print them ourselves. With our smartphones ( I looked it up: IPhone was released in 2007) we now snap, post and share in seconds. It’s our moment and we want everyone to know it!
So… Kodak continues to sell off their different entities in exchange for a newer, narrower focus. Their Kodak Moments App is actually rumored to be pretty good for storing, editing, sharing and printing but I haven’t heard anyone comment on it.
For me, it’s challenging to run with the “Generation Z-ers” because I haven’t developed the need to post everything. I’ve been active on Facebook because a lot of my friends are there. In fact, the median FB age is now 50 and Instagram’s median age is also increasing. Therefore Z-ers are now moving on Snapchat (at least until their parents find them again).
Another take-away from the Kodak story is that, once you claim a market, you must hold on to it and change with it. Kodak focused on the product and what it meant to them instead of their customers. By the way, Don Draper’s creative pitch for the Kodak Carousel on Mad Men was much more emotional than the real version which (as the clients wanted) effectively described the product.
Again, I’m not a camera bug so I will leave it to the professionals to capture the right “Kodak moment” when necessary. However, I am joining the rest of the world to snap and share a lot of other moments (our new legacies).