Apple ad shows why Kodak never had a chance

May 3, 2013, 7:41 PM UTC

Apple (AAPL) is running a new ad in which there is one simple line of dialog: ”

Every day, more photos are taken with the iPhone than any other camera.”

Simple, tight, concise message.  And the ad is beautiful.

When I saw this ad, my first reaction was a simple, emotional response to the raw, human editing style.

But then on further reflection, I thought of Kodak. For years, Kodak was a dominant brand in photography. As photography started to move from analog film to digital, Kodak made small attempts to participate in the shift, but were largely left behind. In Kodak’s prime, photography was a “razor / razorblade” model and Kodak was minting money selling film. When film went from “essential” to “nostalgic” the company never recovered.

After reading the Innovator’s Dilemma or a few VC blog posts, one could expound academically that Kodak should have tried to launch a sub-brand to make the transition through technology disruption. Textbook encumbant behavior… in order to live to fight another day in the digital photography transition.

But, even that academic approach would have ultimately failed in this case. A phone! That’s the dominant camera choice today. Kodak needed to make critical, company-saving decisions by seeing that one of these was going to be everyone’s camera in the future:

How could Kodak possibly have the foresight to battle a phone? They never stood a chance.

Andrew Parker (@andrewparker) is a principal with VC firm Spark Capital, where he focuses on the applications layer of the technology stack in consumer services. This post originally appeared on his blog.

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