The following is a draft version of Eastman Kodak Co. CEO George Fisher’s remarks at the unveiling of the company’s new digital strategy in San Francisco on Tuesday, March 28:
Kodak has always owned pictures. For most of us, it invented them.
George Eastman, invented transparent roll film … made cameras easier to use … and picture-making available to the masses.
When Thomas Edison created the first movie camera, it was Eastman who created the first motion picture film.
When Wilhelm Roentgen discovered X-rays 100 years ago, it was our practical scientist, George Eastman, who created the first commercial radiological film within a year.
As I stand before you today, Kodak is prepared to recapture that vision … not just with a digital strategy … but with a strategy to grow our entire business.
Now, why do we want to do this? Quite simply, there are enormous business opportunities out there … not just in taking pictures … but in taking pictures to whole new places in people’s lives.
Up until recently most people only took pictures. They weren’t empowered to do much more than that with them.
Only if you were a publisher, a printer or some other high-end user did your still photos see any additional life beyond traditional photofinishing.
Today we’re changing all that. Photofinishing, in a sense, will only be a photobeginning. Digital imaging will supplement â€” not supplant â€” silver halide imaging. And all of us will gain greater use of our pictures, and the result will be more pictures â€” most of them still captured on film â€” and more pictures will be used in new and creative ways.
Kodak will let you not only take pictures, but remake them, access them, store them, digitize them, edit them, display them, create them, share them, communicate them and perfect them. In short: Kodak is changing the picture.
Our objective is to provide solutions that are easy to use, accessible to the masses and easily affordable. Just as Eastman sought to make picture-making in his day “as convenient as the pencil,” we intend to pack today’s picture-using with all the power, flexibility and utility of today’s computers and telecommunication systems.
We want to make it easy and affordable for a grandmother in Sydney to make a special reprint and send it to her grandson in Toronto, or put that same picture on a tote bag or on a coffee mug.
We want to make it easier and more affordable for a small business in London to bring high quality pictures into the designing of a marketing brochure.
We want to make it easier and more affordable for police departments worldwide to document cases, file pictures and gain quick access to possible suspects.
We want insurance companies in New York to quickly process claims cost effectively, and go back and forth between pre-existing microfilm files and a Writable CD.
And we want a high-quality printer in Tokyo to be limited only by her imagination in composing a multi-image photograph for a cutting edge magazine.
Today, all of this is possible and more. In fact, Kodak is the only company out there that already serves all of the intended customer sets, already has the technology, already has the products, and already has the distribution channels in place to make it all possible for anyone in any part of the marketplace to process pictures whether they are operating with silver halide or with digital imaging.
What’s important about that statement is that, unlike the competition, we are not out there just looking for new customers as we attempt to do this. We’re not out there trying to establish a distribution network. And we don’t even have to invest a lot in new technology â€” we’ve been doing that. We already have a wonderful business. All we’re going to do now is expand it significantly.
Let me explain.
First, our technical competence. Our color science and image management are truly recognized as being first class.
Second, Kodak is more than film and a yellow box. It is a brand name that consumers worldwide have come to associate with quality, with trust and with very special moments in their lives. A Kodak moment is not simply a picture, it’s a picture that moves us, informs us and embraces our every emotion.
Third, we will build on the legacy of George Eastman which says make it easy, make it affordable, make it accessible and do it now.
And fourth, we will do it with some very capable people, as represented in Digital and Applied Imaging by Carl Gustin and the rest of his fine team.
Our challenge and our commitment is to bring those strengths together in a coherent way: Match that world-class technology with world-class brand identity, build on that heritage for quality, and provide the innovative leadership. That â€” combined with a well established customer base â€” tells you why Kodak is truly changing the picture.
To begin telling you just how, here is vice president and general manager of our Digital & Applied Imaging unit, Carl Gustin.
We have bombarded you with quite a lot today. Given the amount of information and the significance of the alliances, we could have easily parceled this out over several months in a series of separate “news events.” Or we could have simply taken this opportunity to share with you a general description of our digital imaging direction and waited to fill-in the details later. But we’re not about making news, we are about changing the picture.
One of our basic objectives today has been to demonstrate to you that Kodak is strategically positioned to provide digital imaging solutions that are known for their quality, their accessibility, their cost effectiveness and their ease of use. We also have sought to share with you details about some very powerful alliances.
But before we leave here today and before those of you here in San Francisco participate in the hands-on demonstrations we have assembled here at our Imaging Showcase, I want to underscore the fact that this is not simply about building a digital strategy; it’s about building a strategy for Eastman Kodak Company and for the future of pictures.
Absent everything that has been discussed today, we still have a thirteen-and-a-half-billion dollar business in pictures â€” most of that in traditional imaging and photography. We still have an extraordinary brand name and presence â€” not just here in the U.S. â€” but throughout the world. That’s, in part, why people are viewing this meeting in Japan, in Australia, and in Europe â€” where it’s well into the evening right now (and I appreciate that). This company also has some extraordinary talent, and a worldwide business infrastructure and distribution system that is second to none in the entire photographic industry.
We will continue to improve that part of our business. What we have talked about today is a significant part of all that. You see, what we are doing is not only opening up a whole new world of picture-using through the magic of digital technology; this is part of a company strategy for growing our entire business.
It is our belief, based on consumer data, that more picture-using will prompt more picture-taking and more picture-making . It also will prompt additional sales for all of our Kodak businesses.
It will also spark additional excitement in pictures themselves, and in how all of us think about pictures and use them.
In the coming months we look to capture some of that excitement through corporate advertising. Carl showed you a branding print, indicating how we will position our digital products. Many of you have seen our very popular consumer campaigns which tug at people’s heart strings. What we need now in addition to these approaches is a corporate effort that ties it all together. The finished result is, in fact, not quite ready for prime time, but if you ever had any doubts about how all of this might come together â€” picture this…
Kodak is changing the picture.
Internally, we’ve been changing the picture for over a year, by refocusing the company on the business of pictures, by being more aggressive in the marketplace, by establishing demanding performance expectations, and by putting in place a strong Digital and Applied Imaging effort and team.
We’ve developed products, like the ones you’ve seen today â€” the DC40 camera, Beacon and a host of others. We’ve formed strategic alliances with some of the world’s leading companies, who share our excitement. And we’ve implemented a new branding strategy for products built on superior Kodak digital imaging science.
Through these efforts and more, Kodak will change the picture for a world of customers. The process by which we capture, create, improve and access quality pictures will become easier, faster and more cost effective. The result for all of us â€” whether we are shooting a major motion picture, archiving important business documents, transmitting an x-ray, printing on-demand a new product manual, perfecting a professional shot for use in a quality magazine, or capturing a baby’s first steps â€” the result will be more pictures and more Kodak moments.
Thank you for coming.