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Lab Updates
Noritsu redirects efforts to the future; Sony SnapLab offers cellphone printing; Memory Maker joins Lucidiom's designers alliance; ZBE User Group meeting; AIE president chosen.



SnapLab Makes Printing Cellphone Pix a Snap

Cellphone cameras have become enormously popular, changing the way we capture, store, and share images. Now, using Sony's SnapLab, savvy cellphone retailers are creating new market share for digital photofinishing. Platinum Wireless, a Los Angeles-based national sales and distribution company for the wireless industry, has sold hundreds of SnapLab systems to cellphone retail locations across the country. According to Platinum Wireless, by providing photofinishing targeted to cellphone customers, the company has developed a value-added service for customers that brings them back to stores, creating cross-selling opportunities.

"The SnapLab system is one of those rare products that offer an exceptional and unexpected new opportunity for cellphone retailers," says Alex Aladort, director of business development, Platinum Wireless. "The value to the retailer goes well beyond selling prints. Providing this valuable service for the customer keeps them coming back into the store time and again, opening opportunities for them to purchase accessories and other high-margin items."

According to Aladort, cellphone photos have, until recently, been treated as disposable, despite the treasured moments they capture. Unlike digital cameras, consumers always have the cellphone handy to get images otherwise missed. When it comes time for customers to upgrade their phones, however, the pictures often get discarded because no one has offered the means to preserve the images. The arrival of Sony's SnapLab system changes that. Once retailers prompt customers to print pictures at the end-of-life for their cellphone, they also provide a reason to return to the store time and again for additional prints.

The SnapLab system is cost effective compared to larger digital kiosks, and the small footprint makes it ideal for any retail environment. Ease of operation means minimal employee training. According to Platinum Wireless, they've made marketing the SnapLab system to clients a major initiative, providing in-store banners, but the employee and owner response has generated a powerful word-of-mouth presence.

"Bottom line is that our clients love their SnapLab because it adds value for their business," says Aladort. "When the merchant is a satisfied customer, it's an easy sell."

Memory Maker Joins Lucidiom Designers Alliance

Memory Maker has joined the Lucidiom EQ Designers Alliance, offering custom photo jewelry and other unique photo accessories to photo retailers through Lucidiom's APM network. Memory Maker templates will be available for Lucidiom retailers to download just in time for the holiday selling season.

"Memory Maker is all about creating unique keepsakes that allow you to share your photos," says Brandon Rapport, VP, sales. "By joining the Lucidiom EQ Designers Alliance, we're extending our reach to a broader retail channel, so more consumers will not only be able to access Memory Maker products, they'll be able to produce them effortlessly on Lucidiom kiosks. Now our unique, wearable photo keepsakes are just a few clicks away."

The new Lucidiom content templates will be bundled with Memory Maker's Best of the Best (BOB) display. The BOB assortment includes: eight Photo Bandz (four black, four pink), eight Six Frame Stretch bracelets (silver), four Charmed Life bracelets (dog), eight phone charms (heart and star), four key chains (flower), four Gallery Collection necklaces with add-on charms, four Sent W/Love necklaces, four Toggle bracelets with add-on charms, and four Charm bracelets. This 56-piece prepack comes with a free two-sided spinner display.

Rapport continues, "Our Lucidiom kiosk templates produce the exact size photo needed to fit the selected Memory Maker jewelry or gift item. Retailers will no longer have to tediously resize the customer's images. The templates also include more than the required number of photos, so customers can use the extra images on an additional piece of jewelry--a valuable upsell opportunity for the retailer."

Lucidiom launched the EQ Designers Alliance earlier this year to increase the number and variety of templates available on its APM kiosks and Photo Finale websites. Retailers interested in carrying the Memory Maker template can contact Brandon Rapport at Brandonr@kiscola.com.

Noritsu Redirects Efforts Toward Dry Photofinishing

We recently spoke with Mr. Akihiko Kuwabara, president of Noritsu America Corporation, about the future direction of the company. As a major supplier to the imaging and photofinishing industry, the company is helping set a new direction in the industry as it redirects its efforts to retain its position as the top supplier of photofinishing equipment.

"Our mission is to play to win," explains Mr. Kuwabara. Noritsu America is not content to continue supplying equipment to current customers but is also growing the company with solutions for a complete range of customers. An example of this growth potential is the new D502 duplex printer. "The D502 can be sold beyond our current customer base, to office-supply, electronics, scrapbooking and craft, bookstores, and others," he explains.

The D502, along with new order terminals and QSS minilabs, was introduced earlier this year at photokina. A range of products is necessary, as the company has a range of customers who require different-capacity machines.

"The shift from wet to dry is quicker than we expected," Mr. Kuwabara says, but he also notes that Noritsu America still serves customers, such as the pro labs, who need wet machines, as well as other customers with high workloads. Mr. Kuwabara also explains that "the wet-to-dry migration is happening quicker than expected in the U.S., Europe, and Japan; however, it is a little slower in the rest of the world."

One of the challenges faced by the company is coming up with an increased variety of photo products that can help their retailer customers grow through a full range of solutions. "The industry needs to promote more photo through the retailer," Mr. Kuwabara says.

Tina Tuccillo, VP of marketing, adds: "Our core DNA is quality--in the print and in the machines we build." She explains that many of their customers are keeping their Noritsu wet labs and adding dry solutions as well.

Noritsu America Corporation celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2008. The company's core values have helped it get to this point--and it is those same core values of providing quality equipment and solutions for its customers that will lead the company into the future.

Chromira Lovers Gather at Factory

After a two-year hiatus and brought back by popular demand, ZBE, Inc. held its 6th Chromira Users' Group Summer Bash earlier this year in Carpinteria, CA.

The Chromira users designate themselves as "photo labs," proof that RA4 photo is clicking right along in tandem with rigid-and-roll inkjet printing even though inkjet gets the bulk of the press.

ZBE's updated Chromira5x ProLab is aesthetically a "pretty printer" externally, and internally is a simple beauty to operate. Some of those who attended the event came to learn more about the ProLab, even if they already had one. Others were there to see about upgrading their Chromira 30-inch printer to the ProLab because of its daylight operation, built-in processor, and cutter, sorting, and back-printing features.

ZBE users have no problem believing in silver halide. Karen Bogart, a former 25-year Kodak veteran, talked about this subject using Kodak data. "Silver halide is declining, but only slightly," she said. "It's still very profitable for Kodak and Fuji, and it's not going away."

According to Kodak, the photo market opportunity is $6B-$7B ('07) and expected to rise to $10B in '12. [These figures reflect digital and traditional products and applications].

ZBE president Zac Bogart supported this analysis by stating that silver halide is in demand worldwide. And how does he know this? "Two-thirds of our machines ship outside the U.S," he said. Fujifilm and Kodak representatives were also in attendance. At Fujifilm, both trans and paper sales are up, while Kodak's sales of trans are up.

Tim Sexton, VP of marketing for ZBE, stressed the importance of marketing: "Focus on your existing customers, clone your best customers, use a mix of email, internet marketing, and direct mail."

This year's meeting was broad-based and offered a lot of peripheral information: color management, workflow, customer relationship management, asset management, marketing, and internet advertising.

Sean Teegarden of Adobe tied his presentation in with ZBE's WorkStream software. He focused on how to handle RAW-format files from photographers and explained how you can open these gigantic, indestructible files in Adobe Lightroom and convert them for WorkStream. RAW camera capture files are increasing and require mega storage space at photo labs. Chromira users admitted that they're faced with workflow problems associated with handling these RAW files.

Chromira users came from across the country, Canada, Mexico, and Israel. John Boylan and Shane Klatt of Boylan Imaging traveled from Alberta, Canada; Boylan just received a ProLab to replace an older LightJet. This pro wedding lab wanted to automate its processes, for a smoother workflow and daylight printing.

Brooks Clayton can't say enough about his ProLab. revealing that "it has cut my energy bills 20 percent" and requires two fewer employees. He told the group, "It cost me nothing." His business model has switched to the higher-end people/social customer whom he believes will want silver halide for a long time to come. He also explained how WorkStream is integrated in his workflow to handle online orders.

ZBE's Bogart explained that B&W is easy to produce with the ProLab. "We have dead-even times from exposure to process, accurate to a fraction of a section," he said. He added that with the system, there's no magenta/green fringing that occurs with printing B&W on color paper.

Eric Magnusson from the Color Management Group made a dull subject captivating in his talk on color management.

WorkStream users said that the software has allowed them to sell more products. One suggestion was that they figure out how to sell more large prints because wide format is undersold. One attendee said he found a new market with 30-inch backlit signs. And several progressive users mentioned they're getting most of their new business from the internet.
--Elizabeth Cunningham

Tom Rieger Elected '08-'09 AIE President

The Association of Imaging Executives elected Tom Rieger of Rieger Communications president at its official business meeting last month.

Other imaging-industry executives elected to board positions were president-elect Ken Wilson, Lustrecolor Inc.; first VP Susan Rau, Northwest Professional Color; second VP Tom Hayes, Visual Image Photography Inc.; treasurer Robert Tolmie, R&C Consulting Pty Ltd.; immediate past president Kim Toren-Freeman, Allied Photographic & Imaging; and secretary and PMA executive director Ted Fox.

Serving as directors-at-large are past president Mark Lane, American Color Imaging Inc.; Glenn Paul, dotPhoto.com; John Rak, The Artona Group; and Steve Pullin of Full Color Inc.


   







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