Skip to main content

Racing & Change? Not Kodak Daunting, But Daunting

We've spoken about the harvesting business strategy here before. This involves straddling a middle line of the status quo and only making small tweaks, rather than big change. Although many of us - fans, bettors and even those working in the business - find this frustrating, at times there is a reason for reluctance to change.

One such case from the business world involves Kodak.

In 1975, some may not know, Kodak invented the initial plans that would end up being the digital camera. The inventors were allowed to keep working on it, to make it marketable, and in 1989 a near-prototype was created. It looked and acted the same as the digital cameras of today.

When it was brought to the leaders and the marketing department of Kodak, the project was immediately shelved. It was deemed too big a change, because Kodak owned the many steps of photography production - the camera, the film, and the development of pictures at mall kiosks everywhere. Change might mean billions in new sales in the long-run, but in the short term their entire business would have to be blown up.

After staying in business for another 20 or so years (with millions made off the patent that ran out in 2007) Kodak finally filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

In racing, the issues are not this daunting. Not even close. However, it should explain why, fairly often, racing acts like it does; with protection of data, with protection of the pari-mutuel system, with making small tweaks to betting menus, rather than large ones.

Kodak made the decision that revenue for 20 years or so, comprised of cash from mall kiosks, (falling) legacy camera sales and a patent, outweighed the benefits of (at least initially) owning the digital camera market. So they harvested. Racing in some slot jurisdictions are doing the same thing. For some tracks, at some locales, it might make some sense. As one California trainer told the media years ago, 'we have to get while the getting is good.'


Comments