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Kodak Crapped Out

One of my favorite stories of business blunders is the story of Kodak and its refusal to pick up and run with one of their electrical engineer's brilliant inventions–Steve Sasson's self-contained, portable digital camera created in 1975–as a consumer product because the company was so intent on maintaining its dominance in the lucrative photographic film market.

It resonates for me because I developed strong brand loyalty as I grew up with Kodak products recording so much of my life, even to this very day. From my birth when my mother was pointing a Kodak Brownie at her family whenever she could afford to buy film and photo processing, to present time as I continue squeezing digital photos out of a Kodak EasyShare purchased (driven by brand loyalty) fifty years later.

The EasyShare I'm still using was a late entry product in a market already dominated by companies like Canon and Nikon six or seven years before I purchased it. Overpriced and poorly constructed, it was too little too late. I should have bought a competitor's product instead. Kodak eventually filed for bankruptcy and is a shadow of its former self, as businesses go. So much for brand loyalty. Shortsighted greed once again thwarted progress by a company supremely positioned to gain from an innovation produced by a young member of its engineering staff.

As the little creative services company I created struggled to survive the Great Recession wrought by greed of banksters and carmakers, Steve Sasson was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation for his 1975 invention and three years later Kodak filed for bankruptcy. Mr. Sasson deserved this honor and I was happy to read news about it in 2009. Kodak deserved to go bankrupt for this blunder and I'm actually glad it finally did in 2012.

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