I had a chat with a guy at Adobe Systems the other day. The latest version of Adobe Photoshop CS4 can’t read Kodak PhotoCDs. Why not? Kodak was the author of the plug-in that enabled Photoshop to read the proprietary file format and isn’t supporting the code anymore (the Kodak Web page on the subject hasn’t been updated since 1998; another Kodak page says “this product is discontinued. Kodak no longer offers technical support by telephone or e-mail.” The company apparently can’t even be bothered to maintain a list of links to software that can read these disks.
Why should Kodak support this format? Merely to be nice to the tens of thousands of customers who purchased millions of disks from them? Perhaps not. Kodak has already pocketed their money and can’t expect to get more from this particular product (though the PhotoCD customers were probably Kodak’s biggest and most loyal customers overall). However, the company may yet want to try to sell something innovative. Who in their right mind would take a risk on an Eastman Kodak technology now, knowing that the company wouldn’t pay a programmer for two weeks per year to make sure that PhotoCDs were still readable by Photoshop and other common applications?
Kodak’s management has already pushed the stock down quite a bit in the past couple of decades (chart), but given how they are shooting themselves in the foot with PhotoCD, it might still be a good short. Note that the decline of film does not explain Eastman Kodak’s decline. Its erstwhile competitor, Fujifilm, has to bear the additional cross of “film” in its corporate name, but nonetheless has managed to grow to $28 billion in revenue (source) while Kodak was shrinking.