Good news and bad news from Kodak bean counters

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by randrew1, Feb 26, 2011.

  1. Kodak announced restated earnings for 2010 that were down by $617 million. The change comes from a reduced estimate of "good will" in the film business. Good will covers the intangible assets such as brand name and loyalty of customers. This has nothing to do with cash flow, it just means that the intangible side of the film business is not worth as much as previously estimated. On the plus side, Kodak has extended the useful life estimate of buildings and equipment in the film business. They now say these assets will be used at least through 2017 instead of 2014.
    More details at:
    Kodak restates 2010 financial results, and loss is much larger than first reported
     
  2. To me this looks as if Kodak is fighting for its very life. Reducing good will = preparing wall street for future losses.
    Upgrading useful life estimate of buildings, full of equipment they said in the previous sentence being close to worthless = please don't loose all faith in us on wall street!
    Seems to me they are on an excecise we call rolling a snowball uphill : everyne knows the thing is getting heavier and heavier for every few yards, sooner or later it will be too big and come tubleing down, crushing you.....
    What they really are telling us is that they now can see a horizon of 2017 instead of 2014, but are pessimistic in the long term. What has Kodak to offer, of in-house products with a future, in todays world?
     
  3. Doesn't look good.
    Just received my weekly Value Line report. Kodak is one of the companies in the report.
    Sales in the wrong direction. No profits.
     
  4. To me, Kodak in recent years represents the American dilemma: Initial technology lead but then failing to expand or even hold market position. They had the first (?) digital SLR but then failed to come up with a mass-produced product.
     
  5. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    This seems somewhat analogous of family wealth - The first generation acquires it, the second generation maintains it, the third generation squanders it away. Back when TV shows had only one sponsor, Kodak used to be the sponsor of the "Ozzie and Harriet" show. Good wholesome family show, good wholesome family film and cameras. I see little of Kodak being advertised anymore.
     
  6. Mr. Dainis makes two good points.
    *****"James Dainis [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG], Feb 26, 2011; 11:24 a.m.
    This seem somewhat analogous of family wealth - The first generation acquires it, the second generation maintains it, the third generation squanders it away. Back when TV shows had only one sponsor, Kodak used to be the sponsor of the "Ozzie and Harriet" show. Good wholesome family show, good wholesome family film and cameras. I see little of Kodak being advertised anymore."*****
    #######
    As to the advertising, they also had advertisements in the major photo enthusiast magazines. For many years, one magazine in particular sold its back cover in color and a 3-5 page middle of the magazine how-to section that provided tips for making or developing good pictures with Kodak products every month to Kodak. In those days, Kodak was "pictures." Everybody else was "me, too." Through their lack of commitment to their product lines, Kodak is now thought of as the "me, too" of photography. Like the decadent family cited above, they've gone downhill while reassuring themselves that they are, after all, "So Kodak."
    I think the end of Kodachrome at this point was due to lack of upper management's commitment to the product and product improvements and promotion. But as long as it was going to end due to years of foolish decisions, they made another foolish decision not to use the 75 year mark to create an advertising program that would call attention to Kodak as being one of the long term players in the photo business.
    They also missed the opportunity to tweak a couple of their higher end compact digital cameras to give Kodachrome-like colors when a button was pushed or a switch was slid. They could have put them in boxes that looked like giant Kodachrome film boxes, name them the Kodachrome model line, and bragged in their advertising about having had Kodachrome film for 75 years. Old farts would have bought one just for nostalgia, even if they didn't use it past a testing period. Middle aged people would buy it with Paul Simon's "Kodachrome" song in mind. Younger people who follow branding efforts like drones would buy it for the Kodachrome brand, as (non?) status symbols. But alas, it appears upper managment is simply a clothes rack full of empty suits.
    A. T. Burke
     
  7. Kodak is film. As goeth film, so goeth Kodak.
     
  8. The decline of Kodak is a real puzzle to me. One thing Kodak understood very well is that most people don't want to be photographers; photography is not a hobby to them, they just want pictures of family, friends, and vacations. It was George Eastman who said 'you push the button, we do the rest.' The 126 Instamatic and later 110 pocket instamatic were successful developments of the same idea. Digital is just the latest extension of the concept. They clearly understood the importance of digital imaging: only 10 years ago, Kodak had more patents on digitial imaging than anyone else. So why aren't they a dominant player in the digital camera market?
     
  9. Professor K. , Feb 26, 2011; 03:02 p.m. said.."....... So why aren't they a dominant player in the digital camera market?
    Like ATB says, poor management, especially in the last 10-15 years.
     
  10. Kodak could get into some other type business. Why do they have to be limited to photography items. But at any rate I will buy Kodak film while they sell it. I like Kodak film and in fact shot a roll of the new Portra 400 today.
     
  11. Kodak is not fighting for film - they havn't for atleast a decade. Nor do they seem so much more against it. Kodak itself doesn't seem to know what it wants. Almost like a passive/agressive stance in terms of the film/digital divide. Call me narrow minded, but I do believe if you want to be strong , you have to put your eggs in one basket - EITHER film or digital. Their descions are elusive, but we allways find out later on. A company with an identity crisis.
     
  12. Whatever the reasons, I have a feeling Kodak will soon go the way of Agfa and will as a last move sell off its film business, machinery and buildings before they become unsellable. And why shouldn't they?
    Personally I would love to see that happen. I think I will have to brace for incoming flak by saying this, but Kodak's legacy in film products would most likely thrive and not only survive if sold to, for example, a lean & mean, focused Chinese player with deep pockets and low manufacturing costs. Film is still alive and well in Asia.
     
  13. How can you say that? Film alive and well in Asia? Do you know anything about it?
    In.......Thailand for instance the people aren't stooopid. They have switched to didgital as fast as they can. Why? they have an even bigger incentive than we: MONEY. Even over there dig vs film is 1 to 10 pricewise, same ratio as here, but different money....
    But there they have less money to spend, so the incentive is bigger. My friends wife's family don't want no camera but digital. Period. They even don't waant no dig. camera that uses what they think is expensive batteries, they want a camera with reloadable batteries. No matter what I tell them, that ordinary batteries and a laoder plus two NiMh batteries will be far cheaper in nthe long run, they concentrate on whats less expensive NOW!
    So film is dropped as fast as they can and as fast as they can lay their mitt on a dig. camera.
    Kodak tried to invest in film in China, did think they was looking at 20 years of business, they had to cut their losses, sell out and get out before they got stung in China also.
    Imagine that, a big time company, once the most recognized brand in the world was unable to make money in China!! Kodak is toast. Pure and simple.
     
  14. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    Kodak also used to be a leader in camera production. In the opening of the "Ozzie and Harriet" show, David comes out with a Kodak Pony II around his neck
    Ozzie and Harriet
    then Harriet touts Kodak film at the beginning of the show and at the next commercial break (Road Race 2/4) a salesman touts the Kodak Retina Reflex and the Kodak Pony II. At that time, Kodak was the name that most people associated with cameras and film.
     
  15. Kodak is no different than all the other American companies over the past 10-20 years.
     
  16. Erik, I live in Asia for over 14 years now, so chances are I do know some things about things over here. But I may be wrong.
    The consumers you are referring to are the "Mr. & Mrs. Jones" and in no way unique to Asia. I was talking about people with photography as a more or less serious hobby, profession or study-subject. Obviously a much smaller market than the J's but from what I can observe, it is doing quite well and actually gaining some converts/new users. Then there are people for whom digital will always be difficult, due to infrastructure, climate and budget - for example unless you also have a computer, you are quite limited with what you snap (Note: I write snap not "take photographs of" which is a totally different thing in my mind) and without reliable electricity it won't work for long.
    BTW: The Jones'es are moving away from digital cameras (P&S I mean) en masse right now and using their (crappy) phones instead. Good enough for them. If I may make a prediction, the low-end and P&S digital camera market will dry up in less than 3 years from now.
    But I agree with your closing comment that Kodak is in serious trouble.
     
  17. I imagine that Kodak will find it's place eventually as a smaller company. I guess if they sold the film interests to a Chinese business I would stop shooting Kodak. Right now I choose it mostly because it's a US company. If it becomes a foreign market company then I will switch to Ilford for my film needs. I just shoot B/W these days anyway.
     
  18. Ross, why change just because Kodak would be non-US? Can we even be sure where their film, or Ilfords for that matter, is manufactured today? Does it even matter? Most of what we drive, fly or buy is manufactured in China, either in whole or partly as components. There is no manufacturing left in Hong Kong where I live, virtually none in Taiwan, Singapore and even Japan anymore. It has all moved to China, as has Volvo whilst GM, Boeing and Ford just to mention a few get most if not all their components from there. Apple, IBM, HP and the list of US companies relying on Chinese manufacturing goes on..
    It is a globalised marketplace and there is not much we as consumers can do about it - because we demand the cheapest manufactured goods at our doorstep.
    More flak incoming, I suppose...:)
     
  19. No flak, IBM sold their entire PC operation to the chinese several years ago, there *is* no IBM any longer just a world wide organization of consultants....
     
  20. It really is telling when people offer their older film or digital cameras for sale on a local online site, calling them "Kodac", "Codac" and "Kodiak". The brand name is probably slipping out of the minds of much of the public.
     
  21. Ingemar, I just like to know where my money is going if possible. I would rather a guy in the US have the job then a guy in China. Nothing against the Chinese guy as he is just trying to get along like the rest of us but I have to choose the American guy first. I am 63y/o and grew up in a time where you bought American or you were not a Patriotic guy. It's a world economy now but I am a product of my youth. Obviously avoiding Chinese made products is impossible. But when it comes to camera stuff I can buy what I want or not buy it at all. It's just a camera. I believe that Kodak film is made in America. Hard to say for sure because there is very little honesty in the world but the box of film says "made in the USA". I do not know where Ilford is made but I believe the company may be a partnership with the Swiss, the US and Britian. I would like to know where they film is actually made but I do not. I like the Ilford XP-2 film. I use Domeke camera bags, Tiffen filters and Op-tech camera straps. All US made camera products. I cannot change anything in the world but I can vote and spend my money where I choose.
     
  22. Excerpts from:
    Ingemar Lampa , Feb 27, 2011; 07:01 a.m.
    "Does it even matter?"
    Yes.
    "It is a globalised marketplace and there is not much we as consumers can do about it -.."
    We can not buy it.
    ".....because we demand the cheapest manufactured goods at our doorstep."
    Some of us are willing to pay the right price considering value/price and will pay a higher price for quality. Unfortunately, too many US companies rebrand cheap Chinese crap or make it substandard themselves and try to fool us into paying quality prices.
    "More flak incoming, I suppose...:)"
    Nah... But there IS another side of the story.
     
  23. I'm sick of Kodak, why dont they sell their film division to another company and stick with their mom-and- pop Point & Shoots.
     
  24. ...Some of us are willing to pay the right price considering value/price and will pay a higher price for quality...​
    I agree 100%, Art, and identify to a large extent with Ross' sentiments, as well. Personally, I extend my universe of potential products to those made in all relatively progressive democracies, not just the U.S., although I like that too. But I think that my universe describes countries that generally share our moral values, and generally trade fairly, which is so unlike the Chinese on both counts.
    In photo, I do love Kodak's films for their great quality, and all the ones that I buy say that they are made in the U.S., which is gravy on my mashed potatoes! And I feel the same about Domke bags.
    An extremely good argument can be made that purchases of Chinese made products have only strengthened their decidedly non-democratic government and its policies, too. Factor in how unfair and difficult it is for any potential competing manufacturer operating in the civilized world to compete with a centralized Chinese economy which implicitly sanctions industrial pollution like the West hasn't tolerated since the 60's, subsidizes many industries, mandates Chinese "partnerships" with non-Chinese companies seeking to manufacture there, steals copyrighted/patented property, currency manipulation, and more... I think it's simply sensible to not purchase Chinese products and lend further support to this lop-sided economic playing field, considering the ramifications. Not to mention China's record on human rights, and its suppression of just about every freedom we enjoy in the West.
    Just read an article about how the Chinese rulers have been closely monitoring the pro-democracy movements in the mid-East, worrying about it coming there. However, an expert that was quoted in the piece said that the likelihood of similar movements happening in China was small because their economy is so healthy. So, in effect, our purchase are aiding and abetting the status quo in China.
    Honestly, I'm able to find just about every product I need to purchase manufactured in countries that I could live in, thanks to the research capabilities of the internet, and that feels pretty good. Just recently, I came across Lowa hiking shoes, which seem to be incredibly well made, and good looking. Lowa's a German company, and the shoes were made in Slovakia, an up-and-coming democracy. Lowa explains on their website that they have a strong social conscience, and the shoes and boots are all made in Europe, "observing the highest labor and environmental standards in the world". And they're not much more money than the Chinese made shoes, and as mentioned, the quality of the Lowa's seems superb. I very much hope that other companies will follow this sort of example in the future. One can hope...
    I know I've digressed a bit from the topic, but feel strongly about what our money should be supporting. I do very much hope that Kodak succeeds, and fwiw, hope also that they keep manufacturing in the U.S., or at least, in a progressive democracy that trades fairly. I love their current products, and am very grateful for these exciting new films. My only unfulfilled wish now is for a 1000 or better speed Portra!
     
  25. Kodak is basically a one trick pony. The entire history of the company can be written in the rise and fall of silver halide imaging technology. It is amazing that the technology was predominant for 125 years. Along the way, the company developed other technologies:
    • vacuum distillation to produce high quality vitamin supplements
    • filter tow for cigarettes
    • a broad line of organic chemicals
    • blood analyzers
    • surveillance satellites
    • x-ray storage phosphors
    All of these technologies (which are still profitable) were sold to raise money to fund the digital conversion. The film business (which is still profitable) was milked to fund the digital conversion. The company put all of its eggs in the digital imaging basket and then botched the conversion effort. (To be fair, no one else is making much money in digital imaging.)
    Kodak is following the same one-technology path as Polaroid, but Kodak has managed to last much longer.
     
  26. All Kodak film is now coated at Kodak Park in Rochester. (They insist on calling it Eastman Business park now.) Most 35mm still film products are spooled and packaged in Mexico. It will be difficult to sell the business since Kodak Park is a Superfund site. The ground water has been contaminated by several solvent spills. The plume of contaminated ground water has been contained, but very few buyers will be willing to acquire this liability.
     
  27. "The plume of contaminated ground water has been contained, but very few buyers will be willing to acquire this liability."
    So the basic value of the land and buildings is only the value of the use they will get out of it until they go belly-up? Maybe it has not been written down enough.
     
  28. "a broad line of organic chemicals"
    Yes, they competed with Pabst's Chemicals making organic starter "kits". Hmmm.... Is Pabst also a shell of its former self?
     
  29. Instead of this USA-centric view, have a quick look across to Japan. Fuki is probably the best comparison.
    Fuji was the big dog in film - they have a sucessful line of digital, they still produce a successful line of FOLDER 120 cameras..... this year they introduced an inspiring digital model that breaks new ground, the X-100, which seems poised to be the 2011 "leica", they have been procucing cameras and lenses for Hasselblad. They have finetuned their digital cameras - I had one at a time - that cultiuvates their famous skin tones and thier famous pastel landscape tones.
    In short fuji seems to have managed getting into Y2K. Kodak hasn't to the point that them most famous brand in the world, back in the 1950's and 60's are now worth about nothing.
    How did Fuji managae this: they did something Kodak never did, they built hi-quality cameras BACK HOME, while Kodak dabbled in Germany, of all places. And they developed and kept some of that manufacturing capacity, maybe contrary to advice from their bean counters, because the japanese seem to value nationality and their nation, and know the value of a home market, mjost people from smaller nations do, and Japan is just a small island-nation (with lots of people living on top of each other).
    Compare Kodaks misery to Fuji's success, and find analogues to Kodak's situation in the history of the German photo industry. I remember in the early 1980's, it seem,ed the german photo press wasn't aware of the fact that the german industry was already dismantled, at least they didn't write about it....
     
  30. However, an expert that was quoted in the piece said that the likelihood of similar movements happening in China was small because their economy is so healthy.​
    Well, perhaps, but I would say that is only part of the story. Another factor which is deply rooted in Chinese society are the confucian values which not even +50 years of socialism/communism has been able to change. First confucian rule: never question authority, starting with your parents, through teachers to government - whatever that may be, Emperor or Chairman of the Party. The result being that change=chaos=bad. "You know what you have but you don't know what you will get" thinking prevails. And the economic progress certainly rules out any uprising a la middle-east. During the troubles in Tibet a few years ago, the HK TV news interiewed young Tibetans who all condemned the rebels, because they were quite content the way things are and have become over the past years. Staged? Propaganda? I don't think so. I think they were expressing sincere grass-roots level general opinions.
    As long as people have food on the table, work and money to spend, they couldn't care less who rules in Beijing, or Washington D.C. for that matter.
    Communism or socialism in China only exists by name and hardly that anymore. Of course there is government abuse of human rights, but if looking from a different perspective, consider for a moment what would be the effect of the current regime being toppled? Want an example? The breakup of the USSR and all the corruption, criminality and lawlessness Russia is still struggling with comes to mind. Now, multiply the Russian population by a factor of TEN and you realise the potential magnitude of such a development. Even with generous application of capital punishment and terrible "re-education" punishment, both which are common in China, we can read almost daily about corrupt officials, graft, bribes and criminality, sometimes even organised.
    So perhaps we should commend and not only criticise the regime in Beijing? They ARE comitted to implementing a transition to a market economy - the last 5 year plan actually contains exactly this policy - offically (for the first time ever since 1949). I for one would be very worried if 1.3 billion people were "let loose" without any rule of law. I live too close for comfort...
    On the topic of pollution and environment, the Chinese are paying a hefty price for their economic progress. The number of deaths and health problems that can be directly attributed to environmental abuse in China is staggering. Anyone who has visited any manufacturing centre in China on business would agree, me thinks. Factories that would be outright banned anywhere else in the world can calmly carry on their polluting activities. When you consider that many if not most either are owned (directly or indirectly) by foreign/western interests, or have "us" as their customers, thus their reason for existing in the first place, the "burden of responsibility" becomes even more complex and we should perhaps question ourselves and our consumption habits, before squarely putting the blame on the Chinese.
    Back towards (at least I hope) the topic of OP: I for one would not have any problems with Kodak winding down and spinning off their film business to a foregin/chinese/asian player, if it means I can carry on consuming their (excellent) products, at reasonable prices. In fact, I would love to see this happen. Example: One roll of Fuji Neopan Acros 100, which is also an excellent product, in 120 format costs US$2.30/roll in a store here in Hong Kong. Kodak Tmax-100 costs about $4.20 from the distributor here. More expensive in a store. I don't know for sure, but would not be surprised at all if the Fuji film is already manufactured in China.
    On the topic of quality and in closing: "Made in China" today, does not necessarily equal inferior quality. This is in fact one of the "miracles" of the country's progress. It took the Japanese at least 20 years (1950-1970?) to be able to produce quality products and it has taken the Chinese no more than 10 to reach the same, if not better in some cases, level of quality for certain products.
    Sorry for the long post and off-topic, but I wanted to share my experiences/observations having lived in Hong Kong for 14 years now, thus close to mainland China and travelling there on a regular basis for my business.
     
  31. Sorry for chipping in again, but after reading and considering this thread again, I suddenly realised that I am perhaps myself a very "patriotic consumer", albeit not of US products, rather my native country's (guess which that is...:): I own and prefer to use my Hasselblad camera, drive a Volvo, ride a Husaberg motorcycle, sleep in an IKEA bed, used to drink Absolut Vodka (stopped consuming alcohol altogether some time ago), use Bahco tools, place my phone-calls on an Ericson mobile phone and used to work for Scania for the past 12 years. Not any deliberate or concious choice, just the way things ended up in my case.
    And all those companies, except two, are no longer owned by the country or people where they originated. I still prefer their products.
     
  32. Some excellent points. I guess I would still stop using Kodak film if it's made in China. I am ok with Mexico in the mix, Europe, Japan and other places but photography is just a hobby. I do not have to purchase anything actually. However I am just a guy with a family. I can only do the best I am able.
     
  33. Hello Ingemar,
    Of course we could go on for a very long time about this topic, and I don't doubt that there is probably something to what you're saying about tradition playing a role. Beyond that, though, I think to condone or rationalize the situation in China is to largely adopt an apologist mind set. I left out the incredible brutality and oppression that China has committed on Tibet, and continues to this day. Its attempts to vilify the Dalai Lama. And its growing militarism, and efforts at espionage here in the U.S. and in Canada. The fact that the Chinese Nobel Prize winner, Liu Xiaobo, languishes in a Chinese prison for nothing more than speaking out, while his wife is under strict house arrest, and virtually all of the 100 or so intellectuals that supported him were detained and had their passports confisticated. The internet is censored in China. And more, and it's all indefensible, I don't care what anyone that seeks to minimize this says, I'm sorry.
    While I don't live in close proximity as you do, I've read about this for years and believe it is perhaps the central economic/moral/environmental issue of our time. And I stand by what I previously said; that is, that when we purchase products made in China we are in effect, lending support to "trade" that is fundamentally and profoundly unfair and too often, disastrous to any competing business entity that is observing progressive standards of environment, worker rights, and rule of law. It is profoundly startling and troubling to me that products that could never be produced under those conditions (Chinese) in virtually any advanced nation, can be legally purchased in those same nations...
    When our governments are so controlled by corporate interests that they refuse to act for the most part, then I think that we as decent human beings that appreciate freedom, must vote with our wallets/pocketbooks; money is power to a large degree. To continue to further enrich and empower a nation that believes in none of our Western ideals, is short-sighted at best, and ultimately, simply crazy, in my opinion.
    I did find that actual article for you. I think it does add to the preponderance of evidence that absolutely nothing is changing in China in regards to freedom, and that we only strengthen that government with our purchases. Thank God we still have a free and vigorous press in the U.S.
    "... said he believed the leadership, while clearly nervous, did not feel threatened by the possibility of protests here, because China has a successful economy compared with the Middle Eastern and North African countries currently dealing with popular unrest.
    At the same time, he said, the public security apparatus in China probably was using even the remote possibility of unrest as a way to increase its influence inside the ruling circle. "The power of the security forces has grown," he said. "I'm sure they are using these developments to leverage more. The security apparatus has its own agenda."
    Hhttp://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/23/AR2011022302514.html?hpid=moreheadlines
    As for Kodak films, I for one would be very, very disappointed if they either moved production to China, or sold to any entity that did so, or that was Chinese. I would gladly pay a certain premium to support any product made in the free-world if at all possible. Better yet, I would hope that the lop-sided "trade" situation that exists today would no longer exist before long, either through change, or through an awakening outrage about the present unhealthy situation (literally as well as figuratively; global warming and climate change are also real, tangible results of "made in China").
     
  34. Ooops, not sure if that link was the way it should be, so here it is once more:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/23/AR2011022302514.html?hpid=moreheadlines
     
  35. Some people seem to take offense at the notion of buying things that are manufactured in one's own locale. It seems as though the new generation feels that is wrong thinking, selfish thinking, small thinking, Orwellian style. I have retired to a small town and try to buy locally. The local merchants and manufacturers' kids trick or treat at our house. I see them as fellow shoppers, someone to wave to as I drive past, and many times, good neighbors. I guess for some peculiar reason, I'm more concerned about their welfare than some faceless autonomous being in another town, another state, or another country. Trying to help one's own economy in one's town, state or country, especially in hard times, was a good thing in my generation. Mr. A. T. Burke, in a comment under one of his old Kodachrome pictures talks about how Americans and San Diegans helped one another as they were coming home from war. That used to be something we considered an American cultural value, and a good one, to boot.
    I make no apologies for buying local. I make no apologies for exercising my freedom of choice.
     
  36. Jeff, you are right that we could go on for long on this topic, I think the "wallet-voting" has already taken place a long time ago, otherwise China wouldn't be the economic and manufacturing power-house it is today. I read somewhere that one dollar millionaire is made every day and one billionaire every week. How true that is I do not know but considering the population, I wouldn't be surprised if it is the fact - as is the fact that China now has the biggest currency reserve in the world, even more US dollars than in the US or rest of the world put together. Had consumers done wallet-voting, this would not be the case. Also and perhaps as a result of the increase in disposable cash in China, the Chinese domestic market is quckly growing to become more important, if not bigger, than their export market before long.
    I would hope that the lop-sided "trade" situation that exists today would no longer exist before long, either through change, or through an awakening outrage about the present unhealthy situation​
    Manufacturing centres change location over time. My guess is that when looking at the economic development in China, especially salaries and housing appreciation, China will soon become inatractive as the manufacturing centre for the world. Before long (10-15 years?) my bet is on India, or maybe even Africa? The Chinese are aware of this and are in a hurry to "cash-in" before it becomes reality.
    (literally as well as figuratively; global warming and climate change are also real, tangible results of "made in China").​
    Whilst it may be the case that China is now the largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world - if one is to believe certain sources - and whilst it in no ways justifies pollution and environment abuse, and talking about "lop-sidedness", consider one nation on this planet with roughly 5% of the worlds population and which yet consumes about 25% of the worlds output of fossil fuels and lop-sidedness (although not talking about business) takes on another meaning.
    BTW: Foreign companies and individuals can fully own businesses and subsidiaries inside the PRC since about 3 years back. No need to do any joint-venture or to have Chinese stake-holders or partners anymore.
     
  37. I think Kodak has been among the top five manufacturers of digital cameras (and sensors, too) this century. What is the difference between Canon and Kodak? Canon's business involved electronics and optics, as well as cameras -- and those cameras could be adapted to digital via already amortized processes (wasn't Kodak's dslr Nikon body based?). Kodak produced camras that coultn't be adapted to digital and was the global leader in film production. Film is the least "jitable"* product in photography. In other words film manufacturing is about huge inventories in the cold lockers. Kodak can't make a roll of film on demand from customers or vendors. There must be lots of money not working for Kodak at any given moment.

    *Just In Time http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just-in-time_(business)
     
  38. Anyone remember the "silver-crisis"? Two crazy texan brothers tried to hoard all the worlds silver, prices skyrocketed.
    Kodak was named as the worlds biggest silver hoarder, obviously they will always have a large capital invested and bound in silver stock, as long as they continue making film. Bean counters don't like that!
     
  39. Kodak among the top fine digital camera makers?
    What models? They are not known or remembered for anything but a few P&S cheap models, that had to be sold off at a loss after 6 months.
    Even HP has a better stance in the dig. camera market....
    Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony, Panasonic, Leica.......... no can't find anything from Kodak that competes in this tier.... the early Kodak DSLR are now long forgotten dinosaurs, mere collectors items to s few afficinados on this planet crazy enough to start collecting anything with prices falling like rocks....
    Pretty soon the entier P&S market will evaporate, once we get rid of Steven Jobs over at Apple, and THEY decide it's better to give people value for their money and start putting in technologicall advanced camera in their cellphones, instead of putting in more than 2 years old technology.....
    What is the *best* camera? Clearly the camera at hand 100% of the time! And THAT is the cell-phone camera................
     
  40. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    I remember when the Hunt brothers drove up the price of silver almost ten fold. I also remember that my black and white prints then would have a slight greenish cast unless I toned them in selenium.
     
  41. Jeff, you are right that we could go on for long on this topic, I think the "wallet-voting" has already taken place a long time ago, otherwise China wouldn't be the economic and manufacturing power-house it is today...​
    Ingemar, What I'm saying is that now that it is clear to all well-informed people in the free world that the "trade" situation is lop-sided, and that additionally, the Chinese government has showed no signs of improvement in its regard for human rights and environment, in fact that it is more repressive if anything, that it is time for people of conscience and self-interest to "vote with their wallets". (Btw, I am not connected with any entity that has been directly affected, simply an informed and concerned individual.) The relatively recent past that's responsible for China's empowerment that you mention, cannot be changed. In my view, it was the product of consumers in the West being enticed with cheap goods, and as mentioned before, the situation was aided by Western politicians taking a largely hands-off approach to what their corporations were doing. I think it was hoped that in time, China would become more open and democratic. This seems to have been naive, in hindsight, and in consideration of the present situation in China.
    Manufacturing centres change location over time. My guess is that when looking at the economic development in China, especially salaries and housing appreciation, China will soon become inatractive as the manufacturing centre for the world. Before long (10-15 years?) my bet is on India, or maybe even Africa? The Chinese are aware of this and are in a hurry to "cash-in" before it becomes reality.​
    Please remember that the industrial revolution is a relatively recent event in the context of human history, and the fact that manufacturing centers have changed location over the recent past, does not necessarily mean that this trend will continue indefinitely. Especially, in light of global warming/climate change, I tend to think that an enlightened world may awaken to the fact that we simply cannot afford to move dirty manufacturing to any place that will tolerate it.
    Whilst it may be the case that China is now the largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world - if one is to believe certain sources - and whilst it in no ways justifies pollution and environment abuse, and talking about "lop-sidedness", consider one nation on this planet with roughly 5% of the worlds population and which yet consumes about 25% of the worlds output of fossil fuels and lop-sidedness (although not talking about business) takes on another meaning.​
    Oh, I think that the "certain sources" you mention are to be believed concerning China's emission of green house gasses. And there is so much more beyond this: massive pollution of ground water with carcinogens resulting in very high rates of cancers, very high rates of respiratory problems in industrialized areas including Beijing, as I'm sure you well know. Surely, you remember the imposed moratorium on industrial pollution leading up to the Olympic games, Ingemar? And still, the air was horrible by Western standards, if memory serves.
    Your implication about the U.S.' consumption of fossil fuels is well taken and fair. We definitely need to address this. I think that efforts are under way, but there is still a long way to go, of course.
    BTW: Foreign companies and individuals can fully own businesses and subsidiaries inside the PRC since about 3 years back. No need to do any joint-venture or to have Chinese stake-holders or partners anymore.​
    If you say so- I don't have the time right now to look into this. However, the power of the non-democratic, repressive Chinese government is still derived from the relatively very healthy Chinese economy.
    And what of Tibet?? The treatment of the recent Chinese Nobel winner, Liu Xiaobo, his wife, and everyone close to him?
    Art, I hear you. I try to do the same here, though it's not such a small town environment. I think what you're doing often makes sense on many levels, especially when one takes the long view.
     
  42. Eventually water seeks a level. The current disparity will not last. The cheap labor will become more expensive as their standards rise.
    Another factor of course is the lost purchasing power of the former well employed. Perhaps even before the disappearance of cheap labor will come the disappearance of the North American Consumer.
    Thousands of US companies, have killed their golden geese by taking the jobs to more golden pastures. Only those pastures are soon to become fields of discontent.
    And, due to the nature of Communist nations, the Capitalists will soon see their 'investments' disappear to Nationalization and they can join we Workers on the curbside, wondering where America disappeared to.
     
  43. "Kodak among the top fine digital camera makers?"

    Reread. I wrote "top five".
     
  44. Film in the factory is produced just in time for all of the products with decent volume. It takes weeks to get from silver bars to film on dealer shelves. It is here that film sits for months in some shops.
    The current price of silver is $33.61 per troy ounce. That is the highest it has been since 1981 when the Hunt brothers tried to corner the market in 1981. This is another factor hurting the film business.
     
  45. If Kodak wanted to sell some film maybe they could get the Portra 400 out there so a guy like me could buy some. I buy from BHPhoto for film supplies and they seem to sell out pretty fast when it shows up. I guess I just have to be faster on the buy button next time.
     
  46. Jeff, your comments are good and you seem much more informed than many "average westerner" I know. Regarding something that you wrote:
    The relatively recent past that's responsible for China's empowerment that you mention, cannot be changed. In my view, it was the product of consumers in the West being enticed with cheap goods, and as mentioned before, the situation was aided by Western politicians taking a largely hands-off approach to what their corporations were doing. I think it was hoped that in time, China would become more open and democratic. This seems to have been naive, in hindsight, and in consideration of the present situation in China.​
    Yes this could be how it went down, or it could be a "deliberate policy by western powers". Remembering the circumstances around the end of communism/socialism in the USSR, we know now with hindsight that there was a deliberate policy, whereby the western powers would entice the Soviet Union in to an expensive and unsustainable arms-race, with its ultimate goal being the dismantling of the Soviet system. It came to that.
    In 1993 I was on a business trip to Seattle, WA, and on the programme was a visit to the very interesting Boeing flight museum. We were maybe 30 people in the group and whilst looking at a Boeing 707 prototype outside, with a huge bulge over the cockpit housing a laser-cannon (!!) and the cold-war iconic Convair B36 parked next to it, I said something to a fellow visitor about the huge amount of dollars only these programmes must have cost the US taxpayers, not to mention all the other hardware on site, such as the only surviving Lockheed A12 etc. He replied "I used to fly one of those, you know, the B36". Being a former military man myself, I pricked my ears and we started conversing about the programmes and dollars spent. With the fall of the Berlin wall and Eastern European communism in fresh memory, he said that "what many people don't know is that the cold-war arms race actually almost bankrupted the US as well and the lesson learnt was that it was a too risky policy to be repeated". I don't know where he got this information or with what authority he was speaking, but it seemed (and still does) concievable to me.
    The question then becomes: might the economic progress - especially its predictable result which we are already seeing in China - then not be a continuation of the cold-war arms race policy "by other means"? Regardless if this is true or not, as I mentioned before, except in the higher echelons of the CCP, socialism does no longer exist in China. In my mind, it is without a doubt that there will at some stage be a regime-shift in Beijing. Exactly when nobody can tell, but the people in power know this and want to avoid chaos at all cost, because it is so alien to the Chinese culture. This explains why the "man in the street" in China actually thinks that Internet censorship, press censoring, capital punishment, re-education camps, etc. are all good things. Seriously! This is the overwhelming opinion of the majority of Chinese people I have met during my travels - and who are now BTW both willing and no longer afraid to discuss these topics in the open. This was not the case when I first started travelling to China in 1997.
    Tibet? Yes, the Chinese have done som horrid things there in the past, but nowadays - especially since the Beijing-Lhasa railroad was completed a few years ago - the "average Tibetan" would not like to see Tibet severed from "the motherland". An even more intriguing stance can be found among Taiwanese, who generally seem to hold firm that they are inseparable from mainland China and "reunification" is both desirable and forhtcoming! There is no doubt in my mind either that this will indeed be the case sometime in the future, when the current regime in Beijing has "softened up" a bit. As the PRC approaches a market economy system more and more, the last hurdles against reunification will make no sense. This time is quickly approaching. Quoting Bill's comment above:
    Eventually water seeks a level. The current disparity will not last. The cheap labor will become more expensive as their standards rise.​
    Bill, very well said. In fact, I know first-hand that this is already the case in for instance Shanghai, through the company I used to work for. Since about 2 years back hiring a local "Shanghainese" with University education, who has command of English, is now more expensive in many cases than in Sweden or the rest of Europe! If you can find them anymore. They have all but been snapped up by foreign multi-national companies. Housing in Shanghai is now even more expensive in places than here in Hong Kong and we are in the top five in the world in that respect, according to most economic studies. This is why I think it will not be long before we will start seeing the exodus of western/foregin companies from the PRC to more cost-effective locations. In some cases, it has already happened. Mainly in the IT and software industry where companies now establish regional if not global HQ's in India to a large extent.
    Jeff the company I used to work for, Scania CV AB of Sweden, is a privately held publicly listed company with an undebatable policy that any subsidiary in the world must be 100% owned by the Swedish parent. When we first started business in China in 2003, we set it up as a "Representative Office" because it was the only way that didn't require a joint-venture or chinese stake-holders. Problem was that an RO is supposed to have no more than say 5 staff and within two years, the headcount was over 60. With the PRC's adoption of WTO rules, we started the groundwork to register "Scania Sales China Limited" which eventually became one of the first 100% foreign owned companies in 2007. This is not to say that there are no trade-barriers and protectionist measures undertaken by the PRC government (quite similar to what we find in the US or European Union for that matter), but at least it reduces the risk of industrial espionage (from the "inside" - a great concern and one of my areas of responsibility) copyright infringement and protects intellectual property to some extent. But, I agree, there is a long way to go yet.
    All these issues are interesting, in my mind. but not very relevant to the initial subject of this thread. Again, sorry about that. To reiterate, the writing is on the wall for Kodak. I just hope that their products will still be around in the future. Competition in the marketplace is, as we all know, essential. However, I have switched from Tmax, to Tri-X and now to Fuji Acros for my B&W needs, only occasionally shooting some Tri-X when lighting conditions dictate 400ASA. Can't wait to see the "new" Agfa APX, which they say will become available later this year in 120 format (already available in 135). That used to be my favourite emulsion in the 80'ies.
     
  47. Hi Ingemar,
    What you've written is interesting, and imho, there's no need to feel sorry for talking about this topic in a film forum, as again, I think the whole topic could very well be the issue of out times, and secondarily, it touches manufacturing of most products, including film.
    ...The question then becomes: might the economic progress - especially its predictable result which we are already seeing in China - then not be a continuation of the cold-war arms race policy "by other means"? Regardless if this is true or not, as I mentioned before, except in the higher echelons of the CCP, socialism does no longer exist in China. In my mind, it is without a doubt that there will at some stage be a regime-shift in Beijing. Exactly when nobody can tell, but the people in power know this and want to avoid chaos at all cost, because it is so alien to the Chinese culture. This explains why the "man in the street" in China actually thinks that Internet censorship, press censoring, capital punishment, re-education camps, etc. are all good things. Seriously! This is the overwhelming opinion of the majority of Chinese people I have met during my travels - and who are now BTW both willing and no longer afraid to discuss these topics in the open. This was not the case when I first started travelling to China in 1997...​
    Again, interesting, and I think that you make some good points, and I am hopeful that regime change will eventually come to fruition. But I'm afraid that I must differ in the sense that I think that both you and the Chinese people may well be rationalizing a positive outcome from a very negative situation, as I think, human nature is wont to do in these sorts of settings and experiences.
    There was a stunning article just today in The New York Times that I think demonstrates the depth and perhaps severe depravity and certainly the desperate and determined desire of this regime to hold onto power and suppress all opposition: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/01/world/asia/01china.html?_r=1
    I think it explains much more professionally and thoroughly what the Chinese regime is like than I can.
    ...China budgeted an estimated $77 billion for public security alone last year, according to a Tsinghua University study that was based on official police budgets, putting the costs of internal security almost on par with national defense spending. Some experts say the true number may be even higher...
    .....In the past few years, thousands of stability maintenance offices have opened, and more than 300,000 government functionaries have been enlisted in“community service management,” according to Xinhua,the state news service. Local officials have cycled through Beijing for instruction in tactics to disrupt the Internet and disperse crowds with talks rather than force, and for training in “channeling public opinion.”..​
    As far as Tibet, I'm sorry, but I think the acceptance that you mention is also related to what I mentioned earlier in this post about human nature, and also, the fact that for lack of a better term, this has been "beaten into them", literally in some cases, as well as figuratively.
     
  48. BHPhoto did finally receive some stock of the new Portra 400. Of course it happened after a I made a film order so I had to pay shipping twice. But I finally have some Portra 400 headed my way. I have been experimenting with the C41 B/W films and shot 5 rolls of the XP-2 and now just received 5 rolls of BW400CN Kodak. I will shoot those 5 rolls and then compare first to see which I prefer and secondly to see fi I want to continue shooting them at all. Also the new Portra 400 will be nice to have. I plan to keep shooting Kodak products and do my part to help keep Kodak Corps doors open. Obviously my small purchases make no difference in the world but it's all I can do. Next June my wife and I are going to Hawaii and because of the hassle with film in the airports I will take my D200 and a waterproof point and shoot camera that belongs to my youngest son.
    I figure Kodak will find it's way in the world as a smaller company. I suppose it could get sold off eventually but only the future will present the outcome for Kodak.
     
  49. I don't think I'm being melodramatic when I say the death of film will be the death of a part of millions of people. Any people more business-oriented than I know of the chances of a smaller business buying out the rights to keep making Kodak film? The profits from film sales obviously aren't cutting it for Kodak, but surely a smaller scale company might be able to keep afloat alright?
     

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