Magazine Article


Printing the Mobile Image at Retail

Camera Phones Represent Growing Revenue Opportunity for Print Services

by Pierre Barbeau, Sprint

It was evident at PMA 2005, that the camera phone market continues to grow at a brisk pace. The big question for minilab owners: Will consumers be printing out those images at retail. Imaging Business asked a phone service provider an output provider and a camera phone manufacturer for their comments on the future of this market and here's what they had to say.

Nearly everywhere you go today, it's become commonplace to see someone grab their camera phone and spontaneously capture a moment in time forever. Whether it's candid shots of the family, documenting a chance meeting with a celebrity or taking a cool photo with friends at a rock concert ' more and more people are taking pictures they did not "plan" to take.

The growth and popularity of camera phones is well documented. Sales of camera phones outpace those for digital cameras. Market research firm InfoTrends estimates that 60 percent of the 340 million digital image capture devices in use worldwide in 2004 were camera phones.

With the number of people using camera phones exploding, the number of images captured and shared is skyrocketing too. For example, Sprint customers have shared more than 400 million picture and video messages across the Sprint Nationwide PCS Network since Picture Mail service was introduced in August 2002. Of those, 300 million were shared in the past year. That doesn't count the images taken and just stored on camera phones.

The big question is, how many of these images captured on camera phones are actually being printed? The 2004 Camera Phone End User Survey Analysis by InfoTrends revealed that 40 percent of camera phone users have printed their camera phone images, and another 35 percent are planning to, but just haven't tried it yet.

From Sprint's perspective, the interest in printing camera phone images is a vital component of the overall visual communication experience that will continue to grow as new camera phone features improve picture quality, more direct printing options are available, and picture sharing is extended to even more people.

Easy Printing
Based on customer feedback, Sprint teamed with Fujifilm to make it easy and convenient for its customers to print their camera phone images. The retail-printing feature enables customers to send digital pictures directly from select Sprint PCS Phones or online Picture Mail albums through Fujifilm's "Get the Picture Online" service to 2,700 participating retail photofinishers for printing. The retailers are members of Fujifilm's digital fulfillment network, representing a variety of well-known national and regional stores, including Sam's Club, Ritz Camera, Wolf Camera, ShopRite, Longs Drugs, Fred Meyer and Kings Soopers.

Sprint customers who take pictures and their family and friends who receive them can select a retail photofinisher by zip code, order prints of different sizes and quantities, and pick up prints in a matter of hours, depending on the retailers' service options.

The retail printing option launched in October 2004 and, so far, the amount of pictures sent to print has exceeded expectations of both Sprint and Fujifilm. Customers are also very pleased with the service. An independent survey of Sprint customers who have used the print-at-retail service showed that 91 percent were satisfied with the overall experience.

One of the keys to getting consumers to print their digital pictures is making it easy. So to expand the print-at-retail option, Sprint has enabled customers to store, share and print pictures taken with digital cameras as well as camera phones.

Customers simply upload any pictures from their computer and organize them into their online Picture Mail albums so they can get professional prints of their digital images taken on both camera phones and digital cameras - all at one time from one place.

Handset manufacturers are making advanced camera phones that offer customers more storage and printing options. For example, the Sprint PCS Vision Multimedia Phone MM-5600 by Sanyo has a 1.3 megapixel camera and comes packaged with a 16MB removable mini-SD memory card and adaptor so customers can store more pictures and take the memory card to a local retail store or kiosk for printing. With customers snapping pictures everywhere they go and needing more storage space, Sprint plans to add more camera phone models with memory cards to its offering.

Image printing services can play a vital role in energizing growth and usage of camera phones. It's important that wireless carriers, handset manufacturers and print service providers work together to find innovative solutions that help reach our ultimate goal ' giving customers a satisfying experience to capture, share, print and preserve photos so they remain loyal customers.

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