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Bottoming out: top firms of yesteryear now struggle

Bottoming out: top firms of yesteryear now struggle

With the internet giving consumers more access to competitive products, some pioneering products are struggling to survive. Even in the corporate world, it's evolve or die, says Precious de Leon.

November 1, 2011 2:12 by

Think back hard enough and you’ll remember the time when photographs couldn’t be tagged with people’s names; when photo albums were stored in an actual bookshelf and not online; and when you needed to go to your local Kodak shop to get your photographs printed.

How about the time when your whole family used to sit in front of the TV to watch shows together, or even the news? Remember those times?

Now, when was the last time you’ve printed personal photographs and actually put together an album? And when was the last the time you and your family have actually sat down for long periods of time to watch TV without having laptop, smartphone or tablet within reach?

It’s arguable that the business landscape experiences the same kind of evolution cycle as humans do; that some will naturally die out while others will evolve and even flourish.

Natural progression or not, it’s sad to see a company that has endured (and even flourish through) decades of operation only to find itself struggling to stay relevant in the digital age.

But it seems that is exactly what some of the brands from our childhood are experiencing. And it seems there’s a common pattern among those struggling—they got a little too comfortable at the top, forgetting that being there only meant you needed to work harder to stay on top.

Consumer electronics giant Panasonic, for example, has posted a $19.73 billion loss this year, that it attributes to ballooning costs, weak demand from the US and Europe. Both Panasonic and Sony are undeniably hurt from the diminishing demand for TV monitors—an appliance that is possibly being phased out by the computer monitor in the long term.

In addition to losses in TV unit sales, Panasonic’s camera division isn’t faring any better. What with the increase in smartphone cameras and smaller video recording devices, mid-range cameras seem suddenly out of place in this world of connectivity.

But Panasonic’s dilemma isn’t as worrying as Kodak’s. The company that invented the first digital camera in 1975 and developed the phototechnology inside most mobile devices is experiencing the worst crisis in its 131-year history, according to an article in Gulf News.

Bringing photography to the masses, Kodak unfortunately focused solely on cashing in its 20th century glory and failed to keep an eye out for an opportunity to capitalise on its digital photography knowhow. What. A. Shame.

Investors to the company are losing money, with the firm reporting $957 million in cash in June, down from $1.6 billion in January.
Now, Eastman Kodak Co is reaching deeper into its treasure chest in hopes of escaping bankruptcy through the sale of its 1,100 digital-imaging inventions, worth close to $3 billion. Failing to innovate and use its own digital imaging technologies to its advantage the company is now scraping the barrel, to save itself.
But is it enough? Will Kodak make a strong comeback in 2012? Consumers will decide. But unless Kodak comes up with a new product line that fits into today’s world, then it’s more than likely the company is just prolonging its eventual…(CONTINUED TO NEXT PAGE)

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