It just goes to show you that if you are not one step ahead in this market it could end up costing you in the end. That seems to be the case with Kodak, the company that practically invented the consumer camera back in 1888, announcing today that it plans to phase out its dedicated devices business.
I guess nothing should surprise me anymore, and the company did file for Chapter 11 last month. But take a step back and think about what this really means: Kodak will no longer be making cameras. Wow. Well I guess when you can get an iPhone with an eight-megapixel camera it sure beats making sure you are lugging around your digital camera at all times. Indeed, the company even acknowledged the trend of consumers now using multi-purpose mobile devices more and more in its announcement today.
For years I’ve heard the talk that Kodak was lagging behind due to the fact it did not jump onboard the digital photography bandwagon quick enough. And given the fact the consumer electronics market has now even catapulted past that stage in recent years makes me think that these days you can’t let anything pass you by.
For the record, Kodak isn’t going away, The company plans to expand its current brand licensing program, and seek licensees in different product categories. The company also plans to maintain its presence in such markets as retail-based photo kiosks, among other things. I sure hope Kodak has plans in place to compete with these fully connected kiosks that are out there providing us with every form of entertainment under the sun.
In a way, you have two underlying messages here. One is what I just mentioned about staying one-step ahead of the market. But perhaps the more important lesson is the fact that companies cannot rest on their laurels in this day-and-age of technology.
Let’s look at this trend in M2M. Over the past few years I’ve heard people in the market marvel at the fact that big-name companies were finally entering M2M, throwing roses at their feet about how their name now somehow legitimized this whole idea of allowing machines to talk to machines.
The fact of the matter is, the name can only get you so far. The real questions include, what can your name do for my business? Or will your name stay dedicated to the market? Or how about whether or not your name will spur innovation or stifle it?
The whole idea is fresh on our minds this week given Honeywell filing a patent infringement lawsuit against Nest Labs, which makes the Nest thermostat. People couldn’t get enough of this thing at CES—the company didn’t even have a booth at the show, but that didn’t stop people from talking it up every chance they got, marveling at just how cool it is.
Now I am not about to get into whether or not Nest violated any of Honeywell’s patents—I will leave that up to the legal folks. But the fact of the matter is Nest came to market, captured everyone’s attention, and suddenly made temperature control sexy. Who knew?
The name of the game in connected devices is whether or not you can turn heads. In a world where a new tablet and smartphone hits the market faster than you can say ‘LTE’ it takes a certain something special to capture the attention of today’s consumer.
What we can learn from Kodak is that the name sometimes doesn’t say it all. Companies big and small need to constantly be on their game, or they might find themselves having to fight for attention that just came natural years ago.