Friday, 20 January 2012

Flash, bang, wallop . . .

Bang goes Kodak. Two thoughts etc . . .

One Think Cunard and White Star Line. With the early 20th century success of their Atlantic passenger lines, they thought they were in the boat business. When actually of course they were in the people-moving business. So when long-distance flight became possible, they kept on with their ships and, eventually, disappeared as businesses.

Two I was actually looking to buy some printers yesterday. One, to trial. Maybe three or four more if that one did the job. So I did a little online research. Conscious that the real cost of printing - particularly if you need, as I do in this case, to print a lot of photos - is the ink, I was taken by Kodak's regular boast that its inks were cheaper than anyone else's. So I checked out all the reviews I could find. 

The Kodak printer of choice seemed to be the one called Hero. (Yes, I know I should have set my own alarm bells then but I didn't.) I scanned the reviews and they seemed to be pretty damn positive. So I decided I might well buy one. I went to Amazon to start the process. Then I saw one bad review and it said: actually, you know what the worst thing about this printer is, that it is really not very good at printing photos. So I went back over the other reviews and I saw lines like: well, yes, it is really good but the photo-printing is not what you hope for, particularly from Kodak etc etc

So I cancelled the order and will switch to Canon. Let's see how that goes.

Which is an object lesson in company decline and failure. As Xerox developed the personal computer (mouse, icon interface etc etc), then let Apple steal it, so Kodak developed the digital camera then hid it, in case it cannibabilised its own business. Instead, it got eaten by the Japanese. 

So, I guess, the moral is this. It's better to eat your own leg and survive than let someone else eat it for you. I'm sure it says that somewhere in the Bible or Koran.

Actually, one more thought. People are always saying Britain should do more manufacture. I'm not sure about that. Manufacturing was a blip in the national history. Mostly, we've been traders. An obvious choice given our geographical position. And traders are, by nature, wide boys (and girls). They go where the action is, shamelessly. Trading is never out of fashion. It's subject to technological change, true. But, at its best, most purest, it is quite uninterested in either the object being traded or the method of trade. Cash is the king in this realm. Always. So . . . while I'm not exactly standing up for bankers and incomprehensibly complex derivatives trading, I do think there is a question here somewhere. And another one: if there is not something in what I'm saying, why does our pantheon of national heroes include Francis Drake, Arthur Daley and Del Boy Trotter?

PS I will put up the sleeve notes for the Xmas compilation. I decided to make them longer than I first intended. I'll be posting them one a day, starting early next week.

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