The Eastman Kodak Company (referred to simply as Kodak) is an American technology company that produces imaging products with its historic basis on photography. The company is headquartered in Rochester, New York, and is incorporated in New Jersey. Kodak provides packaging, functional printing, graphic communications and professional services for businesses around the world. Its main business segments are Print Systems, Enterprise Inkjet Systems, Micro 3D Printing and Packaging, Software and Solutions, and Consumer and Film. It is best known for photographic film products.
Kodak was founded by George Eastman and Henry A. Strong on September 4, 1888. During most of the 20th century, Kodak held a dominant position in photographic film. The company’s ubiquity was such that its “Kodak moment” tagline entered the common lexicon to describe a personal event that was demanded to be recorded for posterity. Kodak began to struggle financially in the late 1990s, as a result of the decline in sales of photographic film and its slowness in transitioning to digital photography. As a part of a turnaround strategy, Kodak began to focus on digital photography and digital printing, and attempted to generate revenues through aggressive patent litigation.
Japanese competitor Fujifilm entered the U.S. market (via Fuji Photo Film U.S.A.) with lower-priced film and supplies, but Kodak did not believe that American consumers would ever desert its brand. Kodak passed on the opportunity to become the official film of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics; Fuji won these sponsorship rights, which gave it a permanent foothold in the marketplace. Fuji opened a film plant in the U.S., and its aggressive marketing and price cutting began taking market share from Kodak. Fuji went from a 10% share in the early 1990s to 17% in 1997. Fuji also made headway into the professional market with specialty transparency films such as Velvia and Provia, which competed successfully with Kodak’s signature professional product, Kodachrome, but used the more economical and common E-6 processing machines which were standard in most processing labs, rather than the dedicated machines required by Kodachrome. Fuji’s films soon also found a competitive edge in higher-speed negative films, with a tighter grain structure.
In May 1995, Kodak filed a petition with the US Commerce Department under section 301 of the Commerce Act arguing that its poor performance in the Japanese market was a direct result of unfair practices adopted by Fuji. The complaint was lodged by the United States with the World Trade Organization.On January 30, 1998, the WTO announced a “sweeping rejection of Kodak’s complaints” about the film market in Japan. Kodak’s financial results for the year ending December 1997 showed that company’s revenues dropped from $15.97 billion in 1996 to $14.36 billion in 1997, a fall of more than 10%; its net earnings went from $1.29 billion to just $5 million for the same period. Kodak’s market share declined from 80.1% to 74.7% in the United States, a one-year drop of five percentage points that had observers suggesting that Kodak was slow to react to changes and underestimated its rival.Agency.