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On the large screens fianking the stage, a film called the “Winds of Change” started. In the film, a dignified white-haired spokesman standing in front of sentimental images of puppies, babies, balloons and birthday parties began talking about the “golden days” at Kodak— the days of the “Kodak moment” in photography. Signaling a shift in the tone of the film, the spokesman looked straight into the camera and said, “Get’s ya misty, doesn’t it? Yep, they shoveled on the schmaltz pretty thick—but that kinda crap doesn’t work anymore”. Now people wanted everything to be digital, the speaker stressed, becoming more frenzied as he spoke about digital photography and Kodak’s role in it. The viewing audience chortled when the speaker intoned. You thought they (Kodak) were just hiding out waiting for this ‘digital thing’ to blow over didn’t you? Oh, sure.

For a while they were like, ‘Ohhh, there’s no way digital’s going to catch on’. But now Kodak’s back! With swelling enthusiasm, the spokesman extolled Kodak’s research and development in digital photography, ending by pulling at his hair and exclaiming, “You were a Kodak moment once and by God, you’ll be one again… only this time its digital. Whooo-yeah! “

The spokesman appeared somewhat startled by his own outburst and sheepishly walked off stage as the film ended and the lights came up. Wall Street Journal columnist, Kara Swisher then welcomed Kodak CEO, Antonio Perez to the stage to the audience’s vigorous applause and cheers. Paul Simon’s song, “Kodachrome” played as Perez took the stage. Swisher began her interview saying, “That was a really funny movie. I liked that film! ” Her first question, however, was not so approving. “What happened,” she asked as Perez settled into his chair, “What from your perspective happened at Kodak—because it was one ofthe greatest brands in history? ” Perez responded without hesitation, saying: First of all there was this notion that came out of incredible success. The notion was that maybe if Kodak doesn’t move into digital—the imaging world will never move into digital.

They (Kodak) were running a business with gross margins between 60-70% and those things are hard to let go, especially when you are confronting a business model that is going to give you, if you are lucky, something around 30%. So that means that you have to change the whole company. From the way you design, to the way you manufacture, to the way you distribute, you know.

  • the whole thing. It is very tough. So Kodak is very late to the digital space. But Kodak was not late in investing in digital. Kodak was very rich. Kodak hired very good people and those people were actually doing the right things. In the last fifteen years, Kodak developed one of the most impressive IP (intellectual property) portfblios-in digital capture, image processing, pixel technology and all sorts of things.
  • color management, you name it—actually a leader in all of those spaces. Now, why didn’t they commercialize that? I don’t know.

Referencing Kodak’s transition from traditional photography to digital, wisher asked, “So, how did you get the film people out—because it’s a film company? ” Perez described his approach saying.Basically, the model that I used when I visited the factories was looking at the audience and say, “How many [of you] have a digital camera? At that time it was about 60%, and I would say, well, you are the problem we have. We either move to digital—we either do this transformation effectively—or this company basically will cease to exist.

There is nothing else. There is no time to argue about it. This is over. We are already very late but we do have the tools that we need to make this happen.

” Eight months after the All Things Digital Conference, Kodak held its annual strategy meeting in New York City.Antonio Perez announced that Kodak had successfully completed a four-year, $3. 4 billion transformation and was poised for growth over the next four years (20082011). Investors, however, did not share Perez’s view ofthe firm. Kodak’s share price fell to a 30-year low following the strategy meeting amid skepticism about Kodak’s future strategy.  Pointing out that Canon had surpassed Kodak in sales of digital cameras and that Kodak’s EasyShare Gallery faced tough competition from services like Shutterfiy and Snapfish, analysts wondered whether Kodak had turned the corner. Other investors argued that the Kodak brand still had appeal for consumers and that the company’s transformation would take time. Speculation about a possible breakup of the company or mergers with other technology companies appeared in the financial press.

Had Kodak successfully adapted to the challenges ofthe digital space? Were there other strategies that Kodak should pursue?

Kodak’s Digital Strategy in 2003

Any evaluation of Kodak’s transformation needed to begin with a review of Kodak’s history in digital photography. Despite employing the engineer who invented the first digital camera (patented in 1978) and holding more than 1,000 digital-imaging patents, Kodak did not introduce a digital camera to consumers until 2001. Kodak’s moves paralleled those at many companies whose comfortable business models were threatened by rapid changes in information technology. When asked whether Kodak had moved into digital photography soon enough, then Kodak CEO Daniel Carp replied, “I saw my first digital camera inside Kodak in 1982. Today, we’re arguably one ofthe top three providers of digital cameras in the U. S.

So, we did the right thing. At the same time, we shouldn’t have walked away from the historical film businesses before they turned down, because it would have destroyed value. ” Under slumping economic and competitive market conditions, Kodak faced tough pressure from its existing competitors as well as from new rivals in the area of digital photography—a $385 billion industry composed of devices (digital cameras and personal data assistants [PDAs]), infrastructure (online networks and delivery systems for images), services and media (software, film and paper) enabling people to access, analyze and print images. Even though Kodak had invested $4 billion’ into digital research and related technologies since the early 1990’s and spent many years perfecting its digital cameras, Kodak’s status as an iconic brand was threatened by the technological shift away from its cash-cow business of traditional film and film processing. In July 2003, Kodak reported fiat sales and a 60 percent drop in second-quarter profits. Since January 1, 2000, when Carp took over as chief executive of Kodak, the company’s revenues and net income had declined, its shares had dropped by 66%, and Standard & Poor’s (S&P) had cut Kodak’s credit rating by five grades.  Kodak had reduced its workforce by 49% since 1989, cutting 7,300 employees in 2002 alone.

Plans were announced to eliminate up to 6,000 jobs in 2003 to stem future losses, cutting Kodak’s traditional photography divisions in Rochester, New York to fewer workers than the firm had employed during the Great Depression. When announcing the latest rounds of workforce reductions in July 2003, Carp expressed his perspective on Kodak’s challenges saying, “I think we’re at the point where we have to get on with reality. The consumer traditional business is going to begin a slow decline, though it’s not going to fall off a cliff. ” Kodak found itself saddled with assets and employees that were no longer relevant in the world of digital photography. Traditional photography involved factories where film, paper and other silver-halide chemical-based products were made by thousands of chemical technicians, film process technicians and color printer operators.

In digital photography, images captured by electronic sensors could be displayed, printed, stored, manipulated, transmitted, and archived using digital and computer techniques, without chemical processing. Kodak recognized that digital photography would require different types of employees and began hiring top executives away from computer printer companies, such as Lexmark and Hewlett-Packard. These employees brou: it needed expertise in consvuner electronics and software development. ” Kodak also began closing traditional fihn processing facilities and laying off workers. The switch by consumers to digital photography was coming much faster than expected and Kodak’s traditional film, papers and photofinishing businesses were declining. By the end of 2003, analysts expected that digital cameras would begin to outsell film cameras for the first time in the United States.

The digital photography industry was fast-paced and more crowded, offering razor thin profit margins.In September 2003, Kodak aimounced an aggressive four-year plan to transform the company into a digital photography firm, replacing decliniag revenues and profits in the traditional fihn segment with growing digital revenues and profits. Job cuts and plant closures were prominent aspects of the firm’s restructuring plans. Kodak armounced digital and film imaging strategy focused on four components:

  1. Manage the traditional film business for cash and manufacturing share leadership;
  2. Lead in distributed output;
  3. Grow the digital capture business, and
  4. Expand digital imaging services.

The traditional film business would be “managed” through organizational consolidation, cost reduction and reductions in both advertising spending and the number of unique products.Kodak hoped to expand its leadership in emerging markets, such as China and Russia, anticipating strong growth in these two markets for traditional fihn products. Distributed output referred to the market for printed photos.

Kodak plarmed to dominate all channels for printed photos—retail (minilabs and kiosks), home (printer docks and photo papers) and online printing of photos (Kodak’s Ofoto site). The digital capture component of the plan addressed digital cameras and Kodak’s plans to become the industry standard for ease of use and to achieve top three worldwide market share by 2006. Last, Kodak planned to expand services both online (photo album sharing) and in mobile markets (sharing and printing of photos captured with mobile phones).By the end of trading on the day ofthe digital strategy announcement, Kodak’s stock fell to an 18-year low. Institutional investors criticized Kodak’s announced strategy, expressing annoyance at the company’s intention to invest in inkjet printing, a business dominated by Hewlett Packard. Investment analyst. Shannon Cross, expressed the concerns of many investors saying, “There are so many questions with regard to Kodak’s future strategy.

.. the track record we’ve seen out of management in terms of being able to hit targets and implement a strategy has been pretty spotty. ” The Years 2003-2007 Although shareholders and numerous investment analysts openly criticized the strategy, Kodak began implementing the new digital vision for the company.Since 2003, Kodak had pared costs through layoffs and plant closings in the traditional film division, sold off underperforming business units and increased its research and development investment in ink-jet printers. More than one hundred buildings in Kodak Park in Rochester, New York that had formerly housed thousands of employees had been razed, imploded, or sold by 2007. From the company’s peak in 1988, Kodak had cut 115,000 employees through divestitures, plant closings, and layoffs.

Kodak expected to end 2007 with only 30,000 employees. Although job cuts would eventually represent cost reductions and improvements to the firm’s bottom line, restructuring costs since 2003 were estimated to total $3. 8 billion.  Investment analysts believed that the high costs of Kodak’s shift to a digital strategy would be worth the price if the company was successful at growing profits from its digital products.  Other analysts were unconvinced, saying “We are increasingly skeptical that EK (Kodak) can efficiently generate digital revenue growth and we think additional plant closings, job cuts and development costs will continue depressing results. ” Some analysts worried that the continual charges against earnings and mounting debt might leave Kodak strapped for important funds for research and development.  Competitive pressures in digital photography made innovation important but raised concems for some analysts.

Kodak lost their magic touch

There are way too many people producing similar technology better,” one analyst said. Leadership of Kodak also was in transition during this period. In May 2005, Antonio M. Perez replaced Daniel Carp as Chief Executive Officer of Kodak. Perez had come to Kodak in 2003 after working 25 years for Kodak’s competitor, Hewlett-Packard.

Perez brought his extensive expertise in digital imaging technologies to Kodak and quickly became the leader of Kodak’s digital transformation. Perez had been instrumental in formulating Kodak’s restructuring strategy as he was Kodak’s President and Chief Operating Officer in 2003. ^ Despite the ongoing criticism of investment analysts, Perez remained optimistic about Kodak’s prospects saying. We said in 2003 that it would take us four years to transform this company. The first two years were loaded with restructuring costs, and the analysts are reacting to that. My response is: Well, hello, we are following our plan. We said we’d grow digital revenue and profits, and generate a healthy amount of cash.

Kodak announced that for the first time, Kodak held the leading market share for digital cameras in the United States with 21. 9% share. Kodak changed the name of Ofoto, the online photo-sharing and printing site they had acquired, to Kodak EasyShare Gallery. Antonio M. Perez was announced as the next CEO of Kodak. Perez took over on June 1, 2005. Former Kodak CEO, Daniel Carp retired at age 57.

Kodak announced a 10-year partnership with Motorola to develop mobile camera phones with Kodak sensors. Nikon stopped making most of its traditional film cameras.Kodak’s digital revenues for 2005 exceeded revenues from traditional film for the first time. Digital revenues were 54% of total sales. Konica Minolta announced that it was exiting the photography industry. Some ofthe firm’s photography assets were sold to Sony. Kodak announced that it would outsource the production of all digital cameras to Flextronics, a leading electronics manufacturing services provider headquartered in Singapore.

Kodak announced the sale of the health care imaging division to ONEX for $2. 35 billion. Half of the proceeds were to be used for debt reduction. The sale of the division resulted in a decrease of 8,100 employees for Kodak. Kodak announced the first quarterly profit in eight quarters. Revenues for digital photography products had declined by 13%. Kodak announced a partnership with BestBuy to create the BestBuy Photo Center.

The center provided Kodak’s EasyShare Gallery to BestBuy online consumers. The partnership would also provide for display of Kodak Gallery’s photo gifts (mugs, purses, etc. ) in BestBuy stores. BestBuy would also offer pre-paid cards for prints and gifts. Kodak’s digital consumer group sales (cameras, printers and retail printing) fell 14% due to Kodak’s decision to stop offering low-end digital cameras and an industry-wide decline in printing snapshots. Kodak announced a partnership with Target to produce a co-branded site that permitted consumers to order photo prints online and pick them up in Target stores. The partnership also provided for display of Kodak Gallery’s photo gifts in Target stores and for pre-paid photo cards.

One of the important changes championed by Perez was Kodak’s new business model in inkjet printers. Kodak was upending the traditional business model in inkjet printers. Instead of pricing the printer devices low and making profits on high-priced ink cartridges, Kodak planned to sell higher-priced printers that used significantly less expensive printer cartridges. For example, Kodak’s new line of all-in-one printers was priced at $149-$299, at least $50 more than comparable models.  The cost ofthe Kodak printer cartridges was significantly less, however, running $10 for black ink and $15 for the color cartridge. “The Kodak printers were expected to save consumers 50% over the lifetime ofthe printer due to the cheaper printer cartridges”. Although some analysts reacted positively to the new pricing model, others were doubtfiil saying.

They (Kodak) are not fools, they are going after the sweet spot ofthe market, the people who print a huge number of photos at home, but they are up against big companies that can give a haircut to their own prices if they. There was also some skepticism that consumers would pay more initially in order to save money over the lifetime of the product. A market research analyst described the consumers’ perspective saying, “When it comes to printers, consumers look for the features they want, and then find the least expensive device that offers them. It is only later that they get sticker shock, when they’re spending $50 for ink. “For its part, HP had adopted a “wait-and-see” posture regarding Kodak’s new printer pricing model. If Kodak’s printers gained share, HP was prepared to respond. Kodak “is going into a gunfight with a knife,” responded Nils Madsen, marketing director for HP inkjets’. Kodak predicted that it would take at least three years for the new printers to be profitable.

“Despite reporting a narrower first-quarter net loss in 2007, Kodak’s financial results were continuing to show signs of stress. Sales of Kodak’s digital camera group (including digital cameras, printers and retail printing) fell 14% during the first quarter of 2007. Traditional film revenues declined 13% over the previous year.  Kodak was losing less money, however, investors were expecting more. “Kodak needs not only to restructure, but to change its business. That’s a bigger project. They don’t have an overnight fix,” said one investment fund manager.

Sacrificing current earnings to focus on long term success was a gutsy decision and members of the investment community wondered whether Kodak’s executives had the fortitude to continue to pursue it and whether tiie path Perez had outlined for the company was indeed the right path. One investment manager siunmarized his perspective saying.That company (Kodak) used to be my favorite example of an old-tech company behind the eight ball. Kodak has crossed the Rubicon and gotten past denial. It may be struggling to figure out which road to take, but finally the company understands that the one it was on was getting it nowhere. You know what happens if you sit back and let history happen to you, so you’ve got to take a shot, and that’s what they’re ^^ Kodak also had to consider its strategies in light of changes within the digital photography industry. Much had happened since the launch of Kodak’s digital strategy in 2003.

Important trends included rapidly improving technologies, increases in the quality and use of amera-enabled mobile phones, maturing demand in the United States, rapid adoption of digital photography in foreign markets, and increasing competitive challenges. Improved Technologies and a Shorter Product Life Cycle Like most technologies, the market for digital photography continued to rapidly change. Technological innovations improved the resolution of digital cameras (increased the mega pixels captured and thus improved the quality ofthe photos when enlarged). Improvements in optical and electronic technologies and subsequent reductions in production costs resulted in the introduction of higher margin, digital single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras into the market. These cameras featured interchangeable lenses and appealed to consumers buying their second digital camera and to photography enthusiasts who could utilize the traditional camera lenses they already owned on the new SLR digital camera bodies. Many digital SLR models offered significantly better image quality than point-and-shoot digital cameras due to their use of larger imaging chips. Industry insiders expected strong growth in the digital SLR segment of the market as consumers looked for more capabilities and flexibility in their digital cameras.

Canon, Nikon, Sony and Panasonic dominated the market for low-cost digital SLRs in 2007. Camera makers found the product life cycle of the digital era to be markedly different than the rather stable product life cycle of traditional photography. For example, the Nikon topof-the-line F-series of fllm cameras had been redesigned only six times over ahnost 50 years of production. By 2006, new features-laden digital camera models were introduced every few months rather than years apart. Makoto Kimura, president of Nikon Imaging summed up the change saying, “In the past, as a camera maker we were able to take it easy, watch what was happening. Now, we’ve had to revitalize ourself ” Industry analysts believed that the faster product life cycle and the demands for technological innovations favored consumer electronics companies rather than traditional camera makers—in manufacturing and in distribution. Electronics companies such as Sony possessed the ability to design and manufacture many of the components integral to digital cameras whereas traditional photography companies such as Kodak lacked these capabilities and had to purchase components ftom other electronic companies.

Distribution of cameras also shifted with the digital age in a way that favored consumer electronics companies. Consumers were increasingly purchasing even relatively expensive digital cameras at electronics chains such as Best Buy, Staples, and Circuit City rather than at smaller specialty photography shops. Consumer electronics companies already understood the inventory and logistics demands of the national chains, while traditional photography companies struggled to gain valuable shelf space. As one researcher put it, “A new wave of technology has given the newcomers the upper hand.For the consumer electronics companies, digital photography has been all upside, while the photo industry was stuck in a slow evolution stage”.

Gains in Mobile Phone Camera Quality and Usage

Technological improvements in the resolution of photos captured on mobile phones had increased significantly. In 2006, Nokia offered a mobile phone model with Wi-Fi capabilities and an integrated three-mega pixel camera.

Other mobile phone manufacturers offered phones with an integrated two-mega pixel camera.  By 2009, nearlv 70% of mobile phones were expected to contain cameras with multimega pixel resolutions. Analysts further expected that the improved resolution ofthe integrated cameras in most mobile phones would decrease the demand for disposable traditional film cameras and could have a negative impact on low-end stand-alone digital cameras.

‘Because consumers carried their mobile phones with them constantly, the integrated cameras provided a convenient way to capture images during their daily activities as well as at special events, such as concerts and parties. Improvements in mobile phone cormections to wireless networks also made it easy for users to upload and share images with friends and family. Figure 1 depicts the increase in digital image captured using mobile phones.

After growing by almost 670% from 2000-2005, unit sales of digital cameras were slowing with an increase of only 26% forecasted for 2009. Prices of digital cameras were also declining, making profitability more difficult for makers of low-end cameras. For example, digital cameras with less than 4 mega pixels of resolution dropped in price by 40% in 2006. In contrast, higher-end digital SLRs tended to maintain the same price points, adding value for consumers by packing each successive model with even more features. There was a glimmer of hope for some growth in the digital photography industry as some analysts believed that U. S. consumers were upgrading their digital cameras more frequently than had been previously expected.

The replacement rate was estimated at every two to three years rather than every four years as initially predicted.  However, demand was expected to decline in 2007 and beyond as many consumers had completed their upgrade cycle and fewer new consumers were entering the market. An expected slowdown in the U. S. economy further contributed to a slowdown in demand for digital cameras. Higher interest rates were beginning to depress consumer spending in 2005 as the percentage of disposable income that the U.S.

households paid for their mortgages and consumer debt was increasing. Growth Possibilities Abroad Digital camera sales were expected to slow down in North America in 2007, but remained strong in Europe and Japan. Emerging markets were also expected to provide growing demand as camera prices fell. In 2007, digital cameras were in strong demand in Central and Eastern Europe. Unit sales of digital cameras showed substantial increases in Russia (up 30%), Ukraine (up 70%), Poland (up 15%), Hungary (up 18%), and the Czech Republic (up 7. 7%) over 2005 sales.  Although more cameras were purchased, sales revenues actually declined as a result of declining prices due to technology advances and competitive pressures.

The top three vendors in the region in 2006 were Canon, Sony and Olympus (in order of share).  Analysts expected continued sales growth in the region but noted that demand for digital cameras had matured in the Czech Republic. China was seen as a market with enormous potential for digital camera sales due to improving economic conditions and China’s more open posture to the rest ofthe world as the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing approached. Sales were expected to grow from approximately 3 million units in 2004 to between 6. 5 and 10 million units in 2008.  Growth in Chinese disposable income in the major industrialized cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou had created a market of 400 million potential customers for products such as digital cameras. Interest in photography was keen among Chinese consumers as more Chinese began traveling abroad and wished to bring home photos from their trips.

The World Tourism Organization predicted that approximately 100 million Chinese would travel abroad in the year 2020 (an increase of 500% over 2003 figures). Digital camera sales to consumers outside urban areas in China were expected to be slower. Lower disposable income and need for higher priority items like household appliances caused rural Chinese consumers to delay their purchase of digital cameras. Furthermore, distribution channels in rural areas were not well developed. No major electronics chain equivalent to Best Buy or Circuit City existed outside the major.  Contrary to earlier industry predictions, Chinese consumers did not buy traditional film cameras as their purchasing power increased, but preferred to leapfrog the older technologies to buy the latest digital camera models.  Sales of traditional film cameras and film canisters declined much more rapidly in China than had been anticipated; leaving companies that had depended on selling these products at risk of being jumped over by the newer technologies such as digital cameras and camera-phones.  By 2006, more Chinese consumers owned cameraphones than digital cameras.

The disruptive technology of digital photography had proved challenging for many traditional camera makers. In 2006, Konica Minolta announced that it would withdraw completely from the photography industry—despite being the third-largest producer of traditional photo film. Nikon announced plans to gradually halt production of five models of traditional film cameras, leaving only two film cameras in its product portfolio.  Other traditional camera companies, such as Canon, thrived in the new digital world. Canon had become the world leader in digital cameras with an ahnost 19% share in  Consumers were offered more choices in the digital camera marketplace as companies in the consumer electronics industry began offering digital cameras. Notable examples included Samsung, a consumer electronics company with a strong position in the camera-phones segment and Hewlett Packard with strongholds in printers and personal computers.Consumer electronics companies were formidable entrants into the digital photography industry due to their strong brand awareness with consumers, established distribution channels and experience with many of the technologies involved in creating digital cameras.

The competitive position of the companies in the digital camera industry rose and fell as consumers demanded more features, improved technologies and lower prices. Analysts believed that the strong gains shown by Canon and Nikon from 2005-2006 were due to their introduction of lowcost digital single lens reflex cameras (SLRs). Worldwide, Canon led in digital camera sales with a 18. % share in 2006.

Sony followed with a 15. 8 percent share while Kodak was third at 10%.  Both Canon and Sony benefitted from consumer interest in single-lens reflex models as well as growing demand in emerging markets. Sony’s share ofthe global market increased as a result of its purchase ofthe digital single-lens reflex division of Konica Minolta in 2006.  In the digital SLR segment ofthe industry. Canon held 46. 7% share in 2006, followed by Nikon in second with 33% share and Sony at third with 6.

In segmented market share, signincant differences were evident in the purchasing preferences of male versus female consumers.Men seemed to prefer Canon while women preferred Kodak. Analysts attributed the gender difference to women’s preference for simplicity and desire for high-quality prints that could be shared with family and friends. Kodak met these needs for women with their point-and-shoot camera models and the EasyShare docking station. Men preferred the SLR models offered by Canon while Kodak was their fourth most popular choice behind Sony and Olympus. Gender differences were also observed in what users did with their digital photos. Women believed digital prints were more important than men (63% versus 53%).

Women printed approximately 35% ofthe digital photos they took while men printed only 25%. ‘ Men “took the picture and put it in the computer. But then it was like a roach motel for pictures. They never got out,” one industry insider reported. Although digital camera makers recognized gender differences in purchasing and usage behaviors, care was taken to address the needs and preferences of both men and women when designing and marketing photography products. For example. Canon utilized Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova in television advertising because she appealed to both men and women.

In advance of the company’s annual strategy meeting in New York City on February 7, 2008, Perez announced: It is with great pride that I introduce the new Kodak, a company with a new spirit and winning attitude. While completing a difficult and unprecedented business transformation, we also created breakthrough products and services that feature Kodak’s hallmark innovation, winning customer acceptance and critical praise for a brand renowned for its smart use of technology. In 2008 and beyond, we will leverage the innovative thinking of Kodak people to deliver on our commitments to shareholders and increase the value of this great company.

Building implosions were another symbol ofthe firm’s makeover. Kodak had shed more than 100 buildings since the 199O’s, imploding three massive buildings during the summer of 2007 that had formerly housed manufacturing processes for the firm’s film, paper and other chemical-based products. As the rubble of the old chemical plants was cleared, Kodak executives gave presentations for technology stock analysts praising Kodak’s successful turnaround. The presentations were entitled “A New Kodak Emerges” and emphasized the end of Kodak’s restructuring program; the creation of high margin businesses, such as consumer inkjet printers and camera sensors; and Kodak’s expected return to sustainable profitability. According to company executives, Kodak had a clear advantage in the digital space due to its specialized knowledge of materials science (the result ofthe firm’s 100-plus years of experience in traditional photography) and digital image science (through the firm’s strong intellectual property in digital technologies). However, stock analysts remained skeptical of the success of Kodak’s transformation, continuing to question the competitive success ofthe inkjet strategy and Kodak’s value proposition for camera sensors.

Analysts further questioned the adequacy of Kodak’s spending for research and development given the number of major initiatives it was pursuing. In 2007, Kodak spent 5. 19% of sales or $536 million on research and development, while Canon spent $3,351 billion or 8. 22% of sales on a more singular research agenda. Others continued to express concern about the commoditization of many of the business segments in which Kodak operated, persistently asking Frank Sklarsky, Kodak’s chief fmancial officer, “So, where are you making your money? I just want to know. It isn’t clear.

The stock analysts’ continued unease over Kodak’s fixture was refiected in their stock recommendations with ten of eleven key analysts rating the shares as either neutral or as Despite the Kodak officers’ assertion of successfiil transformation, there was open speculation in the press about the possibility of a breakup of Kodak or mergers with either Xerox or Hewlett Packard. Perez dismissed the notion of a merger with HP saying, “I don’t have any comments about that. All those rumors—there are many other rumors too. I wouldn’t pay much attention. “Other rumors included mergers with Dell, a leveraged buyout by a private equity firm or billionaire investor. Warren Buffet’s interest in Kodak as an investment.

When questioned about the possibility of a breakup, Perez retorted, “They don’t know anything about the company. Why would you do that? I don’t see any good financial reason to do that. ” Were the “winds of change” continuing to blow for Kodak? Was Kodak’s transformation successful or were there other changes needed?

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