Just what did happen to Kodak?

Frankly, it’s not something we think about all that often around here.  In retrospect, they were an American icon – the symbol of more than one generation; America on the road, taking pictures of stops along the way, and providing a poignant series of photos reflecting our growth as a nation.

In 1976, Kodak was a $30 billion corporation.

And now it’s gone.  Technically it’s been gone since 2009, one year after the release of the iPhone.  But where did it go?  What in the heck happened?

A lovely op-ed from mediapost came through our inbox this morning, and it really started us thinking about how new technology can quickly obliterate the status quo, almost without anyone noticing that it’s happening.

As far as Kodak goes, well, they failed to understand just what business they were actually doing, and they took their eyes off the prize.

But  the reality is that Kodak was in the business of storing personal memories. As technology disrupted the way people do that, Kodak failed to adapt its business model and now is just a memory.

It’s not just Kodak that has been shortsighted and failed to see the future sneaking up behind them because they were too busy to understand the present.

Ultimately, the smartphone integrated all the technology into a single mobile device, effectively completing the mass market destruction of film.

Everyone who makes a stand alone product that can be replaced by the smart phone should be very worried right now.  And everyone who is in the business where something they use, do, or rely on can be replaced by smart phones should be on high alert; transitioning to the mobile is going to be a key factor in the survival of many businesses.

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Eighty-eight percent of Fortune 500 companies that were around in 1955 no longer exist today.

Some were purchased, some merged with other companies, and some just failed.  Lack of strategic planning for the future coupled with the inability to execute a modern business plan (or at least one that took modern tools into account) created an untenable situation.

The moral of this story is obvious –

Make sure you are keeping an eye on what’s happening around you, and take that into account when you determine your marketing strategy.  The average newspaper never saw the internet coming to take the readers away (just another Kodak moment),  and any number of them waited WAY too long to try and regain market share or to adapt to the new media.

Mobile IS the new media – we’re spending more than half our online time engaged on mobile devices, the most effective messaging is done with mobile devices and the best retention and response is clearly utilizing mobile delivery.  And that’s a fact.