2001...A PMA Odyssey
By Michael McEnaney
The holiday lights are (sloppily) still hanging off the house. The pine needles are an inch thick on the livingroom carpet. The fruit cakes are beginning to mold.
Quite clearly, itÕs time to start thinking about the big PMA show next month (and take down the tree already).
WhoÕll make the loudest noises, what new product or technology will add yet another wrinkle to the imaging mix? We donÕt have any real specific answers in this space but weÕll take a peek at a few of the leading candidates.
YouÕve all read about the great kiosk craze in this publication before and you can expect to be reading about it again after PMA 2001. No one has bigger plans on this front than Kodak, so you can expect their Picture Maker kiosk to take center stage in Orlando, Fla., this February. The company has added some new wrinkles to this product as well as come up with some interesting off-shoot products. Kodak executives have told PTN they have every intention of being the dominant player in this market and what they have planned for PMA 2001 should only help that cause. The television spots for Picture Maker that are in current run are wonderful. The push to get folks as comfortable with these machines as we all currently are with ATMs is on...and itÕs working.
Kodak wonÕt be alone however, as you can expect interesting photo kiosk product from Fujifilm, Agfa, Pixel Magic, Xerox, Applied Science Fiction, Digital Now, SanDisk and perhaps even Sony.
Look for both Applied Science Fiction and Digital Now to have their Òdry film processingÓ technique in full swing. Both companies have whet the imaging industryÕs appetite with the idea of the chemical-free minilab and PMA 2001 is tire-kicking time for both systems. Word from both companies is late this year/early next for a possible roll out.
The photo.coms are in the process of redefining the lab biz and the idea of sharing images online is growing rapidly. Expect this market to have a huge presence at the show...their future is fast approaching.
Speaking of online photofinishing, perhaps the next hot online photofinishing application will be these photo albums consumers can create and order online (and PTN has recently eyed). Consumers upload their digital image files to these Websites offering the service and organize their images as you would on the pages of a regular photo album. A few clicks later, users have ordered the album they just created and the company ships back a finished hard cover photo album a few days later. One of the nicer twists is the fact the photos come back embedded right into the glossy, high-grade paper in whatever layout the user created Ñ no glue, no tape, no fading photographs. These Òalbum pagesÓ are put together as a hard cover photo album and shipped out directly to customers. Based on what weÕve seen, people will flip over these things.
For now we know that Kodak (via Print@Kodak), Printlife.com and DigitalNow.com are currently offering this photo albuming service. A slew of others are sure to follow.
As for the Òonline onlyÓ version of these photo
albums, the folks at E-Books have added a new wrinkle here. They
have developed a product called FlipBrowser Gold (we told you about
the first version of FlipBrowser in an earlier issue) that allows
users to share their photos in a digital photo album on the
Internet with pages that are actually turned.
FlipBrowser Gold is an online sharing tool that can open a folder of HTML and image files and automatically compile the files into a FlipBook with a thumbnail overview and table of contents.
This setup certainly adds a little life to the experience of viewing online photo albums, removing the thumbnail setup and constant clicking-to-enlarge part of the equation.
Should be quite a show, weÕll run it all down in the issues that follow.