Magazine Article


Infoimaging Update

Infoimaging Update
Infoimaging: Creating New Opportunities and Revenues

by Carl E. Gustin Jr., Eastman Kodak Company

Editor's Note: This issue of Photographic Processing kicks off a new monthly column that examines the transformation taking place in the imaging industry — a transformation sparked by the convergence of image science and information technology, creating a new industry called infoimaging. In this month's column, Eastman Kodak Company's chief marketing officer and senior vp, Carl E. Gustin Jr., explains infoimaging, the size of this new industry, and the opportunities it brings.

To some, "infoimaging" may be an unfamiliar word. It's not even in the dictionary. But infoimaging is real. And it's creating opportunities for custom, commercial, and professional labs, minilabs and service bureaus.

Simply put, infoimaging is a new industry created by the convergence of image science and information technology. It's a much broader and more valuable industry in comparison to the traditional "imaging industry." Whereas the imaging industry is valued at $100 billion to $125 billion, the infoimaging industry is worth about three times as much $385 billion. And whereas the traditional imaging industry encompasses just a few key players Agfa, Fuji, Gretag, Hewlett-Packard and Kodak the infoimaging industry is home to a broad range of companies from both the imaging and information technology fields.

In other words, Kodak, Fuji, Agfa, Gretag and Hewlett-Packard are not just members of the "imaging industry," but they also are members along with Sony, Cisco, IBM and many others of an industry growing at a double-digit pace, in which no single company has more than 6 percent share, and most have less than 2 percent share.

The infoimaging industry is made up of three key markets: 1) devices, 2) infrastructure, and 3) services and media. Here is a snapshot of each:

Devices Devices are products that capture, view, digitize and print images and information. Devices make up about $185 billion of the infoimaging industry. Things like digital cameras, scanners, printers, PDAs, wireless devices and interactive TV. Key players in this sector are Canon and its cameras and printers; Fuji's cameras; Hewlett-Packard's printers, cameras and scanners; Kodak's traditional and digital cameras (and myriad other devices); Lexmark's printers; Palm's PDAs; and Sony's cameras, among others.

Infrastructure Infrastructure allows images to be processed, stored, edited, transformed, transported and distributed. Infrastructure owns a $52 billion slice of the infoimaging pie. It's hardware and software, including routers, servers, online imaging networks, standardized imaging software, imaging protocols, and retail photofinishing networks. Key players in the infrastructure category include AT&T's optical networks, Adobe's imaging software, Cisco Systems' routers and switches, Corning's fiber-optic cable, Kodak's photofinishing networks, and servers from companies such as IBM and others.

Services and media Services and media allow images to be shared and preserved. They make up a $148 billion hunk of infoimaging. This includes photo printing, storing and sharing; specific application software; document preservation; and media such as inkjet paper, ink and CDs. And, of course, film and paper. Key players include Agfa's film and paper; AOL/Time Warner's You've Got Pictures!; eBay's online auction site; Fuji's film and paper; and Kodak's film, paper, inks and other media.

Infoimaging @ Work For The Lab Community
So how does infoimaging impact custom and professional labs, commercial photofinishers, minilabs and service bureaus? Immensely, especially when the three infoimaging markets are connected to one another, with devices linking to infrastructure to produce services and media. This is the point at which the lab community extracts additional value and revenues from the infoimaging value chain. Let me share a few examples of how infoimaging can create new revenue and market opportunities for labs and photofinishers.

  • Common Picture eXchange Environment (CPXe): This is an industry-wide initiative designed to make it easier for consumers to order high-quality prints of their digital images. Clearly, consumer adoption of digital cameras is on the rise. This is good news because users of digital cameras take more pictures than users of film cameras. However, users of digital cameras print far fewer pictures than film camera users. According to industry analyst firm IDC, less than 10 percent of digital camera owners print through service providers. But a group of companies are deploying an infoimaging solution to solve this problem. The International Imaging Industry Association (I3A), Kodak, Fuji, Hewlett-Packard and others are working on the CPXe initiative to provide increased choices for consumers to get photographic-quality prints from digital images. CPXe will provide open standards to enable the transmission and printing of digital images between digital cameras, PCs, desktop software, Internet services, photo kiosks, digital minilabs and photofinishers regardless of the type of digital camera, PC or operating system they use. The CPXe standards are scheduled to be complete in 2003.
  • Enhanced Images = Increased Revenues Consumers take millions of photos every day. If there are common problems such as underexposure, consumers get discouraged. As a result, they not only don't order additional prints, but they may be inclined to take fewer pictures. Kodak is deploying infoimaging solutions for photofinishers to help address these issues. Kodak's Perfect Touch processing for wholesale film processors combines scanners (devices), photofinishing software (infrastructure), and unique paper (media) into a complete system that enhances image quality, offers more media products like CDs and photo greeting cards, and improves workflow and productivity. This enables retailers to offer their customers better pictures and new services. Common flaws such as graininess, tone and underexposure can be digitally corrected. None of this would be possible were it not for the convergence of image science and information technology.
  • The Phogenix Imaging DFX Minilab System: The photofinishing market has long been dominated by specialty retailers, chain drug stores and wholesale labs that have the volume, space, personnel and infrastructure to offer quality film developing and printing. Even the smallest minilabs require custom plumbing, chemical handling and specialty training. But Hewlett-Packard and Kodak, through a joint venture called Phogenix Imaging LLC, are deploying an infoimaging solution to open the doors to digital photofinishing, even in locations where photofinishing never before was possible or practical. The result is the Phogenix Imaging DFX minilab system, which combines Kodak's imaging software (infrastructure) and specially designed inkjet paper (media) with Hewlett-Packard's inkjet technology. It's a digital minilab that uses commercial thermal inkjet technology to produce high-quality, long-lasting prints (media) from digital cameras (devices) or any other digital source.

Infoimaging And The Future
This is clearly an exciting time to be in the processing and photofinishing business. The advances of information technology have opened the doors to new opportunities for serving customers with new products and services. The old value chain of capture, process, print by which value is derived from only a few points is being replaced by a web-like value chain from which value is created simultaneously at multiple points. That's what makes infoimaging such an exciting industry.

Even if it is not a word in the dictionary. Yet.