Kodak Two-Tracks Innovation--The New InkJet Printer May Be Revolutionaray But is it Revolutionary Enough?

Bruce Nussbaum

Our previous issue of IN had Kodak on it's cover with the title--Mistakes Made on the Road to Innovation. It was an insightful look at how CEO Antonio Perez was struggling to reinvent the venerable company's business model and it was written by that great journalist Steve Hamm. Steve is back covering Kodak's new venture in the inkjet market with what promises to be a revolutionary new kind of printer.

Kodak hopes to beat HP at the printer game (Perez originally came from HP and the Hamm story goes into deep detail as to how he arrived at the new technology for the printer from his start at HP).

For me, one of the key questions now is how this new venture effects Kodak's business model. On the one hand, Kodak has this new, basically manufacturing printing business which fits very well with its traditional DNA of making and retailing film. But it is also trying to remake itself as a service company by doing to images what Apple did to music--build a web-based service to manage your photo library.

Can the two business models live in the same corporate culture? Is Kodak buidling two separate organizations to focus on two separate businesses? Will the new printer business, which faces incredible competition from HP, take up the time/energy/resources of the service business? I don't know the answers to these questions, but I think Perez needs to ask them. They are at the core of whether or not Kodak can get its innovation mojo back.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.