We have the real pleasure of exploring what it was like trying to innovate from within Kodak with none other than the Inventor of the Digital Camera – Steve Sasson.
We discuss so many aspects of Innovation and the struggle to let go of a successful business model. In 1880, George Eastman invented and patented a dry-plate formula and a machine for preparing large numbers of plates.
He also founded the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, New York. In 1884, he replaced glass photographic plates with a roll of film, believing in “the future of the film business.”
Like many startups, Kodak faced severe challenges but soon became a household name. When selling cameras, Kodak used a razor-blade strategy: selling the cameras for a low cost, fuelling growth and profits from the film.
With success came blind spots and little by little Kodak leadership paid less and less attention to hardware. This was the case despite Eastman’s original guiding principles: mass production at low-cost International distribution extensive advertising customer focus and growth through continuous research. Kodak did spend a lot on R&D but lacked an appetite to bring the findings of their R&D outputs to life and this would contribute to the downfall of an iconic brand.
Don’t forget Kodak had remarkable engineers, amazing innovators, and even invented the digital camera. It is hard to imagine it today, a world without the smartphone, Instagram, a world where only one company dominated an industry, a world where it was a chore to capture a moment.
This was the world in 1975, when a young 24-year-old engineer invented digital photography and built the first digital camera.