Digital Photography Must Emulate Film's Ease Of Use In Order To
Achieve Mass Market Success
By Daniel Palumbo, President, Consumer Imaging & Senior Vice
Eastman Kodak Company
Nancy Carr, Director WW Marketing, Internet Services and Software, Vice President
Digital and Applied Imaging, Eastman Kodak Company
The photographic industry has a rich history of adopting the
newest technology to bring consumers better ways to capture and
share pictures, pictures that are incredibly satisfying. As we look
at the consumer marketplace, we know of no other product category
with consumer satisfaction ratings that rival traditional
The traditional film photography experience boasts an astonishing satisfaction rate of 96 percent, according to our surveys. This is even more impressive when you consider the scale of our industry. Some 3 billion rolls of film sold last year, resulting in 75-80 billion pictures. It is this high level of consumer satisfaction that is the key to unlocking the potential of digital photography as well.
Some of the success of traditional photography can be attributed to the industry's ancestry and the words of George Eastman. In the early 1900's Eastman presented consumers the Brownie camera with the words, "You Press the Button, We Do the Rest." Retailers around the world readily adopted photography, helping Eastman create a true mass market by delivering the products to consumers.
Throughout the decades, technology steadily advanced, the process got easier, pictures continued to improve, and consumers grew comfortable with a simple model. They drop off their film at their favorite photofinisher and return to pick up great prints, which they can do today at hundreds of thousands of convenient locations worldwide. Digital can and will deliver the same experience.
Digital cameras were once again a major focus at this year's recent Photo Marketing Association Trade Show in Orlando, Florida as manufacturers shared their newest innovations. However, industry advancements weren't limited to only megapixels and LCD technology applied to cameras. Digital news also included the announcement of a new digital technology for film processing, Kodak Perfect Touch, using the latest technology to continue enhancing the consumer's prints, yielding benefit likely to further extend the satisfaction with traditional photography.
Yet, even as new digital cameras are being swept up in the tide of consumer demand, will consumers be speaking so kindly of digital or the digital experience in the future?
Right now, digital is far from easy. Getting the print from your digital camera is labor intensive, confusing, and costly. It is a current barrier to mass-market success for digital cameras. Kodak's approach to improve simplicity is the EasyShare system, which offers consumers one touch simplicity in getting photos from their digital camera.
Research finds that today's households with a digital camera are taking a great many more pictures per month. This same research also indicates that less than 25 percent of the pictures taken are being printed. The real market opportunity is to make it easier for consumers to print, emulating the traditional film model. We believe products such as the EasyShare system will lead to this simplicity and offer consumers multiple choices in getting their print.
As a leader in the photography industry, we encourage others in the category to continue to focus on delivering innovative solutions that meet consumer needs. We've recently seen some new entrants to the category focus merely on extending their model, not on what serves consumers. This narrow focus only serves to limit consumer choice within digital and traditional photography. Although their emphasis on fewer options will restrict the entire industry's ability to grow and drive traffic away from traditional photofinishers and retailers, there are many retailers today who are hard at work developing outstanding out of home printing experiences.
Some of these companies also are attacking traditional photography with mis-information about the reliability of the traditional photographic system, attempting to confuse consumers. If we collectively focus on expanding consumer choice, we will ensure consumers understand the benefits of both traditional film and digital. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the leaders in the industry to be unified in identifying the consumer satisfaction of film as the benchmark for the mass-market success of digital photography.
By ensuring that consumers and photo retailers have a variety of options across both film and digital photography, we will drive category leading satisfaction ratings that will continue to feed our industry growth and profitability. The mass-market adoption of consumer digital photography, combined with the continued success of traditional photography, will accelerate industry growth and innovation for decades to come.
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