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每日英語跟讀 Ep.912: Kodak Struggles to Envision a Viable Future After Film 後軟片時代 柯達拚未來

· 每日跟讀單元 Daily English

每日英語跟讀 Ep.912: Kodak Struggles to Envision a Viable Future After Film

Of the roughly 200 buildings that once stood on the 525-hectare campus of Eastman Kodak’s business park in Rochester, New York, 80 have been demolished and 59 others sold off. Terry Taber, 60, and a loyal Kodak employee of 34 years, still works in one of the remaining Kodak structures, rubble from demolition not far from its doors.

伊士曼.柯達位於紐約州羅徹斯特、占地525公項的商業園區曾矗立約200棟建築,現在80棟拆了,59棟賣了。60歲的泰瑞.塔柏是幹了34年的忠實員工,仍在留下的一棟建築物中工作,拆除大樓的瓦礫就在不遠處。

Mr. Taber oversees research and development at Kodak. Many people might be surprised to know that Kodak is still in business at all, much less employing someone in the hopeful-sounding enterprise of developing new technology ideas. But if the film company, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2013, has any light in its future, Mr. Taber is likely to have something to do with it.

塔柏在柯達負責研發部門。許多人想不到柯達仍在運作,更別說還雇人從事聽來充滿希望的新科技開發。但如果這家2013年破產後重新站起的軟片公司前途有任何希望,大概都跟塔柏有關。

In basement labs, some of the 300 scientists and engineers who work for Mr. Taber are studying nanoparticle wonder inks, cheap sensors that can be embedded in packaging to indicate whether meats or medicines have spoiled, and touch screens that could make smartphones cheaper.

在地下室的實驗室,塔柏手下300位科學家和工程師中的一些人正在研究奈米分子神奇墨水,可嵌入包裝以顯示肉類或藥品是否變質的低價感應器,以及讓智慧手機更便宜的觸控螢幕。

Much of this is old stuff, left over from the company’s glory days. But Mr. Taber’s boss hopes that somewhere in those projects there might be a nugget of gold.

這些研究多非新創,而是這家公司輝煌時期留下的。不過塔柏的老闆希望能在這些計畫的某處挖到金塊。

“I’m mining the history of this company for its underlying technologies,” said Jeff Clarke, 53, who became Kodak’s chief executive last year. Mr. Clarke has no delusions that Kodak could bring those technologies to market on its own; it will need corporate partners to make actual products. “We’ll never be able to prosecute the value of our intellectual property with Kodak-branded sales,” he said in an office in the same tower where George Eastman once looked out on his global tech empire.

53歲的傑夫.克拉克去年出任柯達執行長,他說:「我正在挖掘這家公司的歷史,尋找潛藏的技術。」他並不奢望柯達能獨力把這些技術帶進市場,它需要企業夥伴製成實際商品。他在辦公室中說:「靠著柯達品牌產品的銷售,永遠無法讓我們的智慧財產發揮它的價值。」喬治.伊士曼當年曾從同一棟高樓眺望他的全球科技帝國。

Kodak is to digging deep into a legacy of innovation in the photography business and seeing if its remaining talent in optics and chemistry can be turned into new money in other industries.

柯達正深入挖掘在攝影產業的創新遺產,看看能否把光學和化學方面殘餘的才能在其他產業化為新財源。

For Kodak, the advent of digital photography was ruinous. Today it has $2 billion in annual sales, compared with $19 billion in 1990 when consumer film was king. It now has 8,000 employees worldwide; it had 145,000 at its peak.

對柯達而言,數位攝影的來臨具毀滅性。消費用底片稱王的1990年,柯達年營業額達190億美元,如今僅有20億美元。目前全球員工8000人,顛峰時期有14萬5000人。

Since emerging from bankruptcy, the company has mostly served niche film markets – there are still a few directors who refuse to shoot digital. Much of its revenue comes from legacy businesses. For Kodak’s new chief executive, along with veterans like Mr. Taber, the key to survival is in its research legacy, thousands of patents and a coterie of scientists who are making new discoveries.

這家公司自破產東山再起後,大多服務專業底片市場-仍有一些電影導演拒絕數位拍片。它的多數營收來自舊產業。對於柯達新執行長,以及塔柏這樣的資深員工來說,生存關鍵在於它的研究資產,數以千計的專利,加上一群持續有新發現的科學家。

At the research lab, a laser prints a 256-count mesh of silver wires, thinner than a credit card, in one second. That technology could be the basis of a new kind of phone screen, cheaper and more useful than the touch screen. It is work that Mr. Taber and his veteran team are clearly proud of.

在研究室,一台雷射機器一秒就能印出256針的銀線網,比一張信用卡還薄。這項技術可作為新型手機螢幕的基礎,比觸控螢幕更便宜,也更實用,塔柏和他的資深團隊顯然引以為傲。

“People ask me why I’m still here,” he said. “It’s because I see the possibilities.”

他說:「人們問我為何還在這裡,因為我看到了可能性。」

If any future is coming for Kodak, it had better hurry up.

如果柯達前途仍有可為,它最好加快腳步。

Mr. Clarke is impatient. He came to Kodak a year ago and says he was shocked that the company had done so little to capitalize on the work of its scientists. Kodak’s technology for packaging sensors, he noted, was developed years ago. No one had figured out what to do with it. “We missed enormous opportunities,” he said.

克拉克沒什麼耐心了。他一年前來到柯達,非常驚訝這家公司在利用科學家的成果方面做得如此之少。他指出,柯達的包材感測器技術多年前就開發出來,卻沒人想出該如何利用。他說:「我們錯過了大好機會。」

Kodak has a market capitalization of about $800 million. He noted that GoPro, a maker of cameras for extreme sports, is worth more than six times as much.

柯達的市值約8億美元,他指出,極限運動相機製造商GoPro市值是柯達的6倍以上。

With $750 million in cash, a 2014 net loss of $114 million and possibly more losses this year, the company needs to find partners. Among his partners for future business is Bobst, a $1.3 billion Swiss company that makes machinery to manufacture cardboard boxes. Bobst is interested in using Kodak’s digital printing technology to personalize packaging, said Jean-Pascal Bobst, the chief executive. “It could be revolutionary for corrugated boxes.”

柯達有7.5億美元現金,2014年淨虧損1.14億美元,今年可能更多,它需要夥伴。未來商業夥伴中的博斯特是市值13億美元的瑞士公司,生產製作紙箱的機器,它對將柯達的數位印刷技術用於客製化包裝很感興趣,執行長尚-巴斯卡.博斯特說:「這可能是瓦楞紙箱的大變革。」

Kodak diversified into pharmaceuticals, paying $5.1 billion for Sterling Drug in 1988. Kodak’s researchers invented digital photography and put the technology in professional cameras in the 1990s. There were plans to move to digital consumer cameras, but the cash Kodak made on traditional photography made it complacent. By 2001, even before smartphone cameras, film sales started to fall by 20 to 30 percent every year. The 3.5 billion meters of film Kodak manufactured as late as 2007, enough to circle the earth about 88 times, has shrunk 96 percent.

柯達當年也投資於製藥業,1988年以51億美元買下施德齡製藥。1990年代柯達研究人員發明數位攝影術,並把這項科技用於專業相機。當時原本有生產消費者數位相機的計畫,但是柯達在傳統攝影領域賺的錢讓它自滿。到了2001年,甚至在智慧手機附帶相機之前,底片銷售額開始每年下滑二至三成。2007年柯達製造的軟片總長仍有35億公尺,足以繞地球88圈,迄今已縮減96%。

At an October meeting of 80 employees, Mr. Clarke was asked when Kodak’s 20-plus years of layoffs would end. “My answer, of course, was ‘Never,’ ” he recalled. “No individual company can say that things aren’t going to change.”

克拉克去年10月在和80名員工的一場會議中被問到,柯達長達20多年的裁員何時結束,他回想:「我的答案當然是『永遠不會結束』,沒有任何一家公司敢說事情絕不會改變。」

In December, Mr. Clarke made good on his word, with more restructuring and layoffs.

克拉克說到做到,去年12月宣布進一步重組及裁員。

Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/276646/web/

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