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Hard to Picture

Kodak announced today that it is eliminating around 10,000 jobs as part of its ongoing transformation into a digital company. It’ll have less than 50,000 employees, which is roughly 25,000 fewer than four years ago. Turns out, film sales are declining at an even faster rate this year than the company had projected — about 25 percent, not 20 percent.

These days there are two views of Big Yellow (new nickname: Slim Yellow). The skeptics say it’s the Titanic, fatally wounded, sinking ever so slowly, doomed by its outdated film heritage, which prevented the company from responding to the digital boom sooner. No matter what Kodak does, it’s too little too late; a hot product is like a ditty by the Titanic’s orchestra, sweet but futile. Besides, digital profit margins are puny compared to those of film.

The believers, on the other hand, argue that Kodak has turned the corner, having become the top seller of digital cameras, photo printers, and health-care imaging. Its digital business jumped 43 percent in the second quarter and is expected to generate more revenue than its film business this year, an important milestone.

Which Kodak do you see?

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