A Kodak Moment

116Remember when something special happened in your life, people would say “That’s a Kodak moment?”

A “Kodak moment” was something that was sentimental or charming, a moment worthy of capturing in a photograph.

Did you know that term is still used? However, its meaning today is entirely different. Today a “Kodak moment” is used to represent a situation in which a business fails to foresee changes within its industry and drops from a market-dominant position to being a minor player or worse, declares bankruptcy.

The Kodak Lesson

While digital cameras were invented in 1975, in 1998 Kodak had 170,000 employees and commanded 85% of all photo paper sales worldwide. But only a few short years later, their business model disappeared and Kodak nearly went bankrupt.

If you had asked anyone in the world in 1998 if they thought in three years they’d never be taking pictures on film again, they would have called you crazy. But that’s exactly what happened to Kodak.

The 21st Century Revolution

Evolution is gradual. People often don’t even feel things changing.

Revolutions are violent. Things change quickly. People often have lots of difficulty dealing with them.

The industrial revolution was certainly disruptive to craftsmen and the trades industry. Radio was disruptive to the print communications industry when it was introduced in the 1920s. The 1950s would watch television provide a similar disruption to radio, print and motion pictures.

Now we are undergoing a new revolution with the internet, social media and smartphone technology. And this revolution is moving at exponential speed.

Software is the driving force behind lots of the changes we are experiencing. It’s what enables Uber, Airbnb, Pandora, Spotify, Netflix, Amazon, Google, Apple etc.

Computers are learning at an exponential pace via “artificial intelligence.”

More Dangerous Than North Korea

Elon Musk recently tweeted “artificial intelligence is more dangerous than North Korea.” We never think when we post on social media that artificial intelligence algorithms are processing all of that information to influence future social media interactions, future ads that will pop up, shopping sites that will be recommended, what news we’d like to see in our newsfeed or who we might like to become friends with.

It’s all very reminiscent of the computer “HAL” in the movie “2001 a Space Odyssey.”

Specialists vs Generalists

Not all jobs will go away. But reductions in force of up to 90% in almost every profession are possible and only specialists will remain to handle anything supercomputers can’t.

Autonomous Vehicles

While the auto industry races to get autonomous cars to market, we already have other forms of autonomous transportations systems operating today; like the monorail at Disney or major airports.

The trucking industry is one of the largest employers in America. 7.3 million people are employed throughout the economy in jobs that relate to trucking activity. What happens when trucks can drive themselves to the people employed in this industry?

Fossil vs Solar Energy

Last year, more solar energy was installed worldwide than fossil. Renewables are fast becoming the least cost energy option around the globe.


77% of all adults in America today say they own a smartphone. That number was only 35% six years ago.

But if you’re looking for the smartphone’s impact on the future, 92% of 18 to 29 year olds today own a smartphone.

Suffice it to say, if your business model doesn’t work on a smartphone, ‘fuhgeddaboudit.’


What it all comes down to for mediated communications – newspapers, magazines, radio & television – is the 21st Century is the convergence of all media becoming a reality.

We are watching the end of each of these industries being unique, special and different; with all of them competing for the same space via the internet.

Or as Herbert Spencer put it in his Principles of Sociology, it’s “survival of the fittest.”

What kind of “Kodak moment” do you think history will record for mediated communications?


Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales

11 responses to “A Kodak Moment

  1. The Great Convergence. aka “One Great Hour of Sharing” – ’50s Sunday School Lesson. Thanks Prof.RT. See you in Austin! http://www.broadcastideas.com

    Liked by 1 person

  2. D Young

    What word is a synonym for “convergence”? Layoff. I remember the first time I heard the term convergence in a company wide meeting at the station. While the corporate suits in front of me were espousing the great qualities of ‘diversifying our talent pool,’ the little imp on my shoulder was whispering in my ear ‘heads will someday roll.’ Sure enough, A couple of years later, several stations were ‘downsizing’ their newsrooms of accomplished journalists and converging on convergence with the use of recent college graduates who had no experience at all.


    • If you think about convergence as a funnel, then as all the various forms of mass media become content that flows through the same internet delivery pipe, it doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination to see fewer people will be needed in the future. I feel your pain. Thanks for stopping by the blog and adding your perspective. -DT


  3. Sobering study by By LARRY S. MILLER, Director, Steinhardt Music Business Program, New York University published today. You can read it for yourself here: http://musonomics.com/musonomics_report_paradigm_shift_why_radio_must_adapt_to_the_rise_of_digital_08.29.2017.pdf


  4. region1football

    Great thought-provoking, as well as informative, article. It shows just much times have changed. If a company like Kodak that was successful some 40-50 years ago can become irrelevant in this day and time, so can a lot of other companies in multiple industries, including the media industry. Thanks for sharing.


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