Wonderful Creative Destruction

Despite all it’s done for society, Eastman Kodak is in bankruptcy. Such is the way of the world — A&P Supermarkets, Atari, Pan American Airlines, Bethlehem Steel are all gone. Big companies, including market leaders, go under some day. Some are bought by competitors, others change with the times and endure. Each story is different.

The culprit is often known as creative destruction. Some abhor it, others celebrate it.

To be sure, creative destruction is precisely what it sounds like — destruction. People’s fortunes can be lost, hard working people lose their livelihoods. But from the ashes of failure often come new ventures that take over. Employees move to related or unrelated fields, capital expenditures and intellectual property are sold and repurposed. Sometimes slightly, other times dramatically, the world changes.

Just last night I was using Google’s Picasa to order digital copies of photos that were taken the night I proposed to Mary. Picasa offered a choice of seven providers to print my pictures ranging from Snapfish (my favorite) to Walgreens, where I could drive down the street and pick the pictures up.

Walgreens, of course, still produces and develops film. I go there when I want to get copies of pictures I take on my 35mm Holga camera. Which, to all with a smart phone know, has pretty much been replaced by Instagram. Holgas are still fun, and I usually just ask Walgreens to develop them and put them on a CD.

When I placed my order last night, I ordered 16 copies of four photos that will be shipped to my house for a grand total of $2.75. Had I been engaged 20 years in the past, I’d have to use an expensive film camera for this purpose and either a.) use all of the shots or wait until they were used or b.) waste the roll to get the pictures done.

And anyone who had photos processed in the past 20 years knows it wasn’t super cheap.

Why? Because of processing costs. Now, there’s still a market for it, but our phones and digital cameras before them, have automated the processing. That saves us time, money, and adds value to our lives.

Such is the beauty of creative destruction. May its reign continue.

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