The Arrogance of Monopoly


The red and yellow colors of the Eastman Kodak Company have all bled out.  In 1996, a share of Kodak stock was worth $80.  Yesterday it closed at 78-cents.

What killed Kodak?

Financial analysts cite three major reasons: Polaroid in the ‘70’s, Fuji selling low cost film beginning in the ‘80’s, and Digital Photography since then.  I can give you a bigger reason that encompasses all three:  the arrogance of monopoly.

In the mid-seventies I worked for a marketing company that did a lot of work for Kodak.  The first assignment I had was writing a paper on “How To Keep Videotape Out of Television News”.  Of course the concept was crazy.  News programs were beginning to use video to broadcast events almost immediately.  Sure the images were a little fuzzy at first – but news was hardly “new” by the time film was shot, processed, and edited for TV.  Film couldn’t even compete with the emerging technology in many different fields.

Everyone knew this by about 1975.  Everyone….but Kodak. It could have jumped into digital (which we called electronic photography back then) but its pride, pigheadedness, and rigid belief in film forever turned the company into a blindfolded, stumbling dinosaur.

I’m very sad to see it go.

18 Responses to “The Arrogance of Monopoly”

  1. Bill says:

    American history is littered with stories like this. Did you know A&P once owned 75% of the supermarkets in the USA? Why doesn’t IBM dominate the computer industry?

    Success breeds complacency.

  2. Joe Belle-Isle says:

    Unfortunately-after every war-like the U.S. Military. This is the first time to see it DURRING the war. Schwartzkopf about made me puke when he pulled out EVERY sceret weapon we had to impress the world in the 1st desert storm making thIraqi’s the ONLY military to know how to hide a SCUD from a Sattelite. But the General Shithead was on the peninsula accross from me after West Point, sending men RUNNING THROUGH MINE FIELDS to get splints for guys who got hurt walking through mine fields. Like he admitted to in his book, “The ONLY mistake I ever made.” All the rest were done by the people gathering information for him in intelligence. Harry Truman would stomp his overbearing ass. EVERYTHING in EVERY LEADERS JOB is the fault of the LEADER. Unless your an American Military Leader. Including the CIC-otherwise known as PRESIDENT.

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