Kodak has seemingly done the unthinkable, coming back from the wilderness to take the biggest slice of the compact camera pie in Japan.
According to BCN Retail (opens in new tab), Kodak's market share, around 5% in 2010, had gradually increased to 9.7% by March 2021. However, in November of this year, it recorded a record-high share of 24.7%, taking the pole position.
The main reason for Kodak's remarkable rise is that it undercuts the competition by quite some margin. The average compact camera (opens in new tab) from Sony or Canon costs around 40,000 yen (US$300), while the average cost of Kodak's cameras is 10,000 to 15,000 yen (around US$75-110).
Of course, all this needs to be taken with a grain of salt, as the compact market is currently imploding unable to compete with the rise of smartphones. Many of the big players in the industry like Nikon have already pulled out of the compact market, with companies like Panasonic allegedly following soon.
Camera companies are refocusing all their efforts on high-end enthusiasts and professional cameras as an area where there is still money to be made and market share to be won. It might be a case of Kodak being the last man standing in the compact market.
Kodak's comeback though is particularly remarkable as it has gone from a brand that led the entire photography movement to only ten years ago the company was entering bankruptcy proceedings.
Kodak invented the first digital camera in 1975 but then shelved the whole project as they feared it would hurt their photographic film business. Keen to protect it's film business it was then slow to innovate in digital, and was rapidly overtaken by its Asian rivals.
This makes it additionally interesting now that it is making inroads in Asia at the expense of Japanese companies Canon and Sony. Although this is of course just the compacts market. Japanese companies still reign supreme and Sony, Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, and Panasonic dominate all other areas of photography and video worldwide.
Since its bankruptcy, Kodak has undergone huge rounds of layoffs and complete restructuring. With a much more diverse business portfolio, with a re-focus on printing, it also licenses its name and photographic patents out to the companies.
It has also been buoyed by the revival of 35mm and medium format film, even hiring 250 more staff (opens in new tab) to deal with the demand. Kodak has an incredible lineup of film with Kodak Porta being the most popular film available today.
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