Shuttered: Digital cameras killed Kodak, but smartphones will kill digital cameras
After pioneering technologies that enabled the rise of Hollywood, the evolution of the family photo album and the first images ever taken on the moon, it seems a cruel twist of fate that the lasting legacy of Eastman Kodak Co. may wind up being the picture-taking technology embedded in millions of smartphones around the world.
On Thursday, the 131-year-old photo-image trailblazer filed for bankruptcy, bringing an end to the corporate legacy of one of the most famous brands in the United States, another failed giant pushed to irrelevancy by the digital age.
At the heart of Kodak’s tragic demise is the digital camera, a technology invented by Kodak in the 1970s, only to be ignored by its creators and championed by its rivals.
Kodak’s downfall is not unique. The company is the latest in a long line of physical media titans that have watched as the evolution of digital technologies subsumed their business models, shredded their profits and eventually reduced them to shadows of their former selves.
Whether it was the Internet reordering the music business, Netflix Inc. spelling the end for Blockbuster Video or Craigslist pushing hundreds of newspapers into bankruptcy, the ability to digitally transform media and transmit it instantly over the Web has been both disruptive and destructive for once formidable titans. (Photo: Gary Cameron/Reuters)