“The moral of Kodak’s fate is that technology trends are often clearly visible, but changing a successful company is exceedingly hard. NCR was not able to adapt to the world of personal computers. Xerox could not find the right formula to compete in a world with many rivals. AT&T failed to adjust to the Internet (and was acquired by one of its smaller “baby bell” local phone companies, that later took its former parent’s grand name).
Kodak fared the worst since the shift to digital photography was so massive and sudden. … No firm, however strong, can count on continued success: market dominance is only a snapshot in time.”
– from “Gone in a flash: Kodak files for bankruptcy protection,” in The Economist
We know the challenges you face are enormous. We know that finding a new business model for National Geographic is not an easy job.
But please consider the possibility that we’re really not in the picture business. At least, we can’t be today. Great photography is everywhere, and most of it is free. But we could still be a Society, with all that might entail.
You once told us that “no one wants to belong to anything.” But we think people do. They just need someone at National Geographic to give them a compelling reason to join.