Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Why is Kodak near death while Fujifilm is thriving?

Fascinating perspective in The Economist. Here are some quotes:
Fujifilm, too, saw omens of digital doom as early as the 1980s. It developed a three-pronged strategy: to squeeze as much money out of the film business as possible, to prepare for the switch to digital and to develop new business lines.
Kodak had become a complacent monopolist. Fujifilm exposed this weakness by bagging the sponsorship of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles while Kodak dithered. The publicity helped Fujifilm’s far cheaper film invade Kodak’s home market.
Another reason why Kodak was slow to change was that its executives “suffered from a mentality of perfect products, rather than the high-tech mindset of make it, launch it, fix it,” says Rosabeth Moss Kanter of Harvard Business School, who has advised the firm.
Hindsight is always 20/20 but that last quote is reminiscent of the difference in business philosophy between Microsoft and Apple. One wonders what Steve Jobs might have said about that. We do know what Bob Lutz (former Vice Chairman of General Motors) thinks about Ivy League business schools and MBA spreadsheet-based business strategies.

Postscript: See the Comments below for additional perspective.