“So this question kind of helped me a lot to understand what happened to Kodak. This is a wildly successful company. And we assume that they were just disrupted by digital imaging. And if the idiots had just been invested in the right thing, they would have survived. And the jobs to be done theory helped me frame it very differently.
Kodak saw digital imaging coming. And starting in the early 1990s, they invested $8 billion to get really good at digital imaging. Really invested. The people they hired were from Bell Labs. But they didn’t get the job right, nor did any of us get the job done right. And we thought that the job that people hired a camera with film to do was to preserve memories for posterity.
But it turns out that 98% of all of the images ever taken have only been looked at once. And think about it. What you would do is you’d get the prints and you’d go through them. And then what would you do? Put them in the envelope, put it in a box, in a drawer, and you’d never look at them again. And so there must not be a job there that people were trying to do. It’s just we assumed, but they didn’t.
And then looking back on it, inadvertently, Kodak and their distributors made a different proposition that we will give you double prints, not single, when you bring your film in for processing. And the nice thing about that was when we were doing this. If there was really a photograph it just clicked, we had an extra that we could put it in an envelope and send it to my mom. And that was a different job to be done.
And mom, I love you, but I’m busy today, and I can’t write to you. But look at this photograph. And the photograph, the job to be done, was I want to communicate. And actually, you can communicate a lot with an image. And little by little, I think the job coalesced in our minds is that we could use imaging rather than writing to communicate to people who are not here and now.
And so as the new technology emerged that wasn’t what Kodak developed, but it was just a tiny little lens, flash memory, you could put it in a smartphone, and I can send you 20 images just like this, and you can see them, and you know so much more of what’s going on in your family’s life that the next generation, actually, they don’t want to have to be bothered to write letters at all.”