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The Business Page

Welcome to the business page, a blog where I'll take you behind the scenes of greater Rochester's fast-changing economy. My name is Ben Rand, and I intend to introduce you to some of the personalities, concepts and events that make news in business here. I've been a business reporter for eight years in Rochester and a journalist for 18, working in four states. I grew up in Pittsford, but moved away after college for about a decade. My wife and I live in Irondequoit with our two children.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

You (Don't) Have Pictures Anymore

Long before the famous New York City press conference announcing the merger of America Online and Time Warner, there was Dan Carp and Bob Pittman. The outgoing Kodak CEO stood alongside the former AOL chief operating officer to announce a Kodak-AOL collaboration to create a service for storing, viewing, e-mailing and ordering prints of Kodak Moments. With full hindsight, it was a pioneering vision. Kodak and AOL were the first to commit big money to such a service. It even had a catchy, Internet-style name: "You've Got Pictures," playing off "You've Got Mail," AOL's hot e-mail service.

The partnership went on the scrap heap of history this week, when AOL announced the creation of "AOL Pictures," a free photo-sharing website. AOL Pictures replaces "You've Got Pictures" and offers features like unlimited photo storage, online print ordering and more. AOL claims 6 million monthly visitors and 300 million photos under management.

Many tag Kodak as a technological laggard, but in this case, the company's got the numbers. Kodak's competing site, Kodak EasyShare Gallery, has an estimated 25 million members and more than a billion images under management.

Competition is fierce, though. Hewlett-Packard Corp. recently bought the Snapfish service; Yahoo has its Yahoo Photos service, which is closely aligned with Target; and there is also the independently owned Shutterfly.

It is just interesting to see how just about everything in business has a trajectory.

5 Comments:

Blogger 1Bigcoach said...

Ben,
What is really interesting is how these BIG companies (Kodak,Xerox,..) do not seem to be able to lead with new ideas. They are always trying to play ketchup (haha).

The number of jobs lost in Monroe county due to their inability to lead(ership)is unbelievable and yet they have resource beyond any of their competitors. Is their a message here?

I believe that the key senior managers cease to be leaders or maybe never where! So lets not put too much stock in BIG business.

8:54 PM, November 18, 2005  
Blogger 1Bigcoach said...

Hey Ben, Yea it's me again.. But this time is to ask you to get your post clock set to EDT is three hous behind - i posted this at 8:57

8:57 PM, November 18, 2005  
Blogger Behind The Business Page said...

Hey big coach,

I'll work on the clock and thanks for reading. It is obvious that the economic future here is in small business but the message of my post was that here was one area where Kodak appears have the upper hand. I guess I'd take 1 billion images over 300 million anyday...of course, the models are different and it would be interesting to understand better the returns on investment. Still, the future appears to be shaping up interestingly.

11:34 AM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger ccryder1 said...

Ben,
Regarding "Easy Share" what is the percentage return of this item on the Kodak bottom line?

It seems Kodak's entrance into new technology is fraught with declining returns.

10:15 AM, November 23, 2005  
Blogger Behind The Business Page said...

CCryder,

The direct answer to your question is, if you are talking specifically and only about digital cameras -- there is very little, if any return. (Exact numbers not disclosed.) But Kodak isn't betting the future on digital cameras. The company is trying to build a portfolio where it makes some money from equipment, but greater amounts from items such as paper, ribbons and other accessories and equipment and services. An example: Kodak's foray into commercial printing.

Will it all work? I think we'll know the answer to that in relatively short order.

11:59 AM, November 23, 2005  

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