RIT Experts Discuss Kodak’s Bankruptcy Filing
• In the late 1990s and early 2000, it was clear that digital photography would replace traditional photography. What was uncertain was the rate at which the change would take place. In the short-termed-focused world of the U.S. business it would have been very difficult for a CEO at Kodak to bias towards a more rapid decline of their film and paper business. So the incentive was to always bias toward a slower substitution rate and this led to the “slow bleed” that the company has undergone for the past decade.
• Even if Kodak had made a faster move to focus on digital imaging, the net impact on Rochester, N.Y., would have been very similar. The reality is that digital cameras and other imaging devices would likely be manufactured offshore. Kodak would need to be a much leaner company to compete in the lower profit margin world of digital, regardless.
The historical and photographic perspective
Therese Mulligan, professor and administrative chair of RIT’s School of Photographic Arts and Sciences in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences:
• Eastman Kodak’s bankruptcy filing marks the end of one era in the larger-than-life legacy of a photographic industry giant, and the beginning of another. For much of its history, the company has been a sustaining force in Rochester, especially in its support of educational institutions, such as George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film, and Rochester Institute of Technology and its School of Photographic Arts and Sciences.
• In an intertwining history of ambition and innovation, legions of Kodak personnel received their educational degrees at RIT, pursuing such diverse areas as professional photographic illustration, photographic sciences and technology, and engineering, to name but a few.
• At RIT today, there is not one student who is not touched by the legacy built by the company—whether walking through the quad or hall that bears George Eastman’s name, being taught by a professor who worked at Kodak, attending an annual photo educational panel supported each fall by the company, working in one of the company-named photo or digital labs, or using the products the company donates to current students for their educational experience.