How Fujifilm survived: Sharper focus | The Economist

Topics: Photographic film, Instant film Pages: 4 (1379 words) Published: October 31, 2014
9/3/13

How Fujifilm survived: Sharper focus | The Economist

Schumpeter
Business and management
How Fujifilm survived

Sharper focus
Jan 18th 2012, 13:00 by K.N.C. | TOKYO

THE biggest oddity of Kodak's woes and Fujifilm's revitalisation is that, as we put it in a story this week (http://www.economist.com/node/21542796) , "Kodak acted like a stereotypical change-resistant Japanese firm, while Fujifilm acted like a flexible American one." The article looked mostly at Kodak, since it is the news: an iconic American powerhouse lies at death's door.

But a closer examination of Fujifilm is also warranted to understand how it made the transition away from film—in particular after Kodak filed a lawsuit against the Japanese firm alleging patent infringement on January 13th. Where Kodak is trying to monetize its R&D in its one core business, photography, the digital imaging sector accounts for only about one-fifth of Fujifilm's revenue, down from more than half a decade ago. How Fujifilm succeeded serves as a warning to American firms about the danger of trying to www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2012/01/how-fujifilm-survived/print

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9/3/13

How Fujifilm survived: Sharper focus | The Economist

take the easy way out: competing through one's marketing rather than taking the harder route of developing new products and new businesses. At the same time, it is a reminder to Japanese executives that their constant moroseness and defeatism is misplaced: the country's firms are well placed to succeed if they are willing to reform their businesses. Shigetaka Komori, Fujifilm's boss (pictured), expresses admiration for Kodak in an interview prior to the lawsuit, calling it "the strongest company I ever saw." He entered his firm in 1963, when the American firm towered over its Japanese rival in every way. "Its situation fills me with a bit of regret and emotion,” he says about Kodak's woes. Like Kodak, Fujifilm realised in the 1980s that photography would...
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