Apple's annual sales are a clean order of magnitude greater... currently around $234 Billion (source), but that steady stream of covetable, never-before-seen new products is the same. Apple releases the Macintosh, the iMac, the iPod, the iThis and the iThat (yes, I know, here we are on the iTuttle website...ha ha. But I can't help my name, and iantuttle.com was taken, by another photographer no less!!), and people around the world can't wait to get their hands on them.
While making this comparison during the Eastman House tour, I kept imagining Silicon Valley in 75 years. I'll probably be dead (though, that's debatable). But Sillicon Valley might be dead, too. All these products and services that are integral to our lives now will be replaced by things we can't even fathom right now.
Kodak dominated image-making for over a century. The very first digital camera was invented at Kodak in 1975. (The company famously failed to act on this invention until too late, to the great delight of Harvard Business Review authors and strategy wonks everywhere). Many factors conspired to crush Kodak; it wasn't just digital photography (as evidence, many old-school photo companies survived the digital transition, including Leica, Ilford, Nikon, and, perhaps most notably, Fuji). And while it's hard to imagine Apple ever disappearing (I'm typing this on a Mac, and my iPhone just rang with a text in my pocket), it will. Already, the seamless operation is showing some cracks. I stopped using iTunes a few generations ago because (a) it got too complicated, and (b) Spotify works better and streaming music is a better value. I'm not going to get into a tech debate here, my point is that change comes whether you like it or not. Kodak employed 145,000 people at one time. Apple currently employs 115,000. Back in the 1980s and '90s, nobody thought Kodak would go down. It was listed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average for over 70 years! But... down it went.
Rochester New York is still a vibrant city, with universities, its own orchestra, an Alec Baldwin approved supermarket chain, and plenty of gorgeous mansions, but it's also a little hollowed out. Kodak is gone, in a real sense. Sure, the company exists and still produces terrific photographic film (I AM A FAN!), and movie film [QUENTIN TARANTINO IS A FAN (Hateful 8!), as is JJ Abrams (the new Star Wars!), Vincent Gallo (Buffalo 66!), Todd Haynes (Carol!), David O Russell (Three Kings!) and on and on]. Kodak also makes money by auctioning off its patent portfolio, licensing its still-beloved brand name, and even came out with it's own Smartphone a few months ago (how great is that for the purposes of this article?! It's full circle!). But you don't level 80 buildings in your corporate campus if things are going gangbusters. (I guess for Apple it'll be easier... their entire corporate campus will be in just a single building).