Monday, January 18, 2016

Kodak's new Super 8 Camera

Kodak had built a new Super 8 format movie camera, and it has attracted a certain amount of attention and derision.

I think of myself as a film guy, but I'm not, really. Having little kids means taking the easier path as much as possible, and that means digital. Still, I think of myself as a film guy.

I'm not a wild eyed fanatic film guy. I'm not going to rant on about the indefinable look of film, or the coming film renaissance which will crush digital and bring back a golden age of Camelot. None of those things is true.

What I do believe is that there is demand for film. Indeed, only morons ever thought demand would drop to zero. The salient question was always:

Will there be sufficient demand to support manufacturing, and if so, how much?

Apparently there is enough demand to support manufacturing the stuff. Kodak makes the Super 8 film, so they probably have a pretty clear idea of how much is getting used and who's buying it.

This thing is a sort of halo product, but more importantly they're targeting movie-making schools.

I am inclined to take them at face value. This strategy makes sense, and I can't think of any other interpretations that do. My guess is that Kodak is playing the long game here.

Hollywood has plenty of film partisans at the moment. Kodak has a modest business making film stock for the movie industry. Great. How does one maintain that over the next 10, 20, 50 years? You've simply got to get film into the hands of the students. Kodak is ensuring that the next generation has access to the whole film deal. The look, real or imagined, and the ways and modes of working.

Not every student will fall in love with it, but some will. Kodak's movie film market will ebb and flow with fashion, but it will remain.

Targeting the students works.

In the 1990s I was building networking equipment. Cisco was becoming the major competitor, and a part of their strategy was to target universities. Their gear was slow, almost unusably hard to set up, and generally crappy. It was also ubiquitous at universities. Those students who worked part time for the U went out into the world and bought Cisco because they were familiar with it.

Eventually Cisco got big enough and rich enough to dominate in quality and performance too, although their user interface is still garbage.

This is Kodak's plan, and I see no reason it won't work out fine.

Worth noting: still photography plays no role in this particular fork of the strategy tree. Obviously. Movie makers use film stock at 24 frames/second. If your business is measured in acres, target the people who consume by the acre, rather than the square inch.

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