Watching the Olympics here in the UK (where I get to see them in real time and not have to wait 6 hours for NBC to deign to let me see them), one cannot be struck by the absence of KODAK.
Those giant yellow and red signs once dominated both the Olympics and photography. Now, they are nowhere to be seen.
Yesterday, in one of the more depressing moments in the history of technology, Kodak's thousands of patents, one of the last assets of the bankrupt company, went on auction. It was hoped that they might garner as much as $2.6 billion. Instead, they brought in a paltry $150m to $250 million.
And that's it.
Kodak, when it comes out of the Chapter 11 process will remain, (if it can) as a small company making printers. But it's days in photography are over.
Once it defined photography.
George Eastman, Kodak's founder pretty much invented amateur photography the way that Steve Jobs invented the personal computer.
For years they were the world leader in photography.
Now Kodak is done.
Shares in the company which once sold for $94.75 in 1997 yesterday closed at 47¢ a share.
How did this happen?
How did it happen that a company that was once solid gold has pretty much evaporated before our eyes?
It didn't have to be this way.
In 1975, Kodak scientists invented digital photography.
Of course, the camera was the size of a toaster and cost a fortune, but Kodak was there first and owned the technology.
At that time, Kodak controlled a mind boggling 90% of the film market and 85% of the camera market in the US.
They had the future in their hands and they threw it away.
They threw it away because they could not bring themselves to transit the company from a film company to a digital company, even though, clearly, they not only understood the future - they invented it.
In one notorious incident, so reported The New York Times today, Kodak's CEO in the 90s, Kay Whitmore, fell asleep during a meeting with Bill Gates at Microsoft.
Lke I said, tragic.
But there's a lesson in here.
Even though a company may seem to be invulnerable and own an industry, past success is no guarantee of future success, particularly when a new, game-changing technology comes along.
I am thinking of this as I contemplate NBC's coverage of the Olympics.
Here's the KODAK of the video/television business. David Sarnoff, like George Eastman, pretty much invented TV as we know it.
But NBC's dominance is wedded to an architecture designed in the 1950s. - Big studios, big buildings, big cameras, big salaries, complex and expensive production methods, and a distribution platform based on pushing their linear programming through the air on onto cable.
This morning we screened a feature film shot on an iPhone by an unknown for next to no cost and then put on the web, available to 2 billion viewers for free.
Is NBC vulnerable?
I think so?
Will they be nimble enough to make the changes that will be required for them to thrive in a digital, non-linear, cheap-to-produce world? Maybe, but I wouldn't bet on it.
It would be easier for someone else to start from scratch, building a model that is reflective of the digital technology of 2011, as opposed to jamming the technology of 2011 into a business designed for the technology of 1958.
As KODAK used to say, 'You push the button, we do the rest'.