"Everyone needs a card reader, rechargeable batteries and a case," he continues. " They can understand the need for a case, and the batteries, but if you don't take the time to explain to how a card reader works and what it does they aren't going to think about getting one."
Card readers are proving such a convenience for digital camera owners that several new models have been announced in recent months.
Card Readers Galore
SanDisk has added two new card readers and a card adapter to its line to take advantage at the faster data transfer rates of FireWire and USB formats. The new $40 PC card adapter allow users of computers equipped with a PC card slot to read, write and transfer files from SmartMedia, Secure Digital, MultiMedia and MemoryStick cards.
The company's new ImageMate 6-in-1 is among the first multi-card readers compatible with USB 2.0. Significantly faster than the USB 1.1 standard built into most PCs now in use, this new format allows for the transfer of 480 Mbps (megabits per second), compared with 12 Mbps on the original USB.
SanDisk has also introduced the FireWire Image Mate reader for reading cards and transferring image files from Compact Flash I and II cards to computers equipped with a FireWire port. The company estimates the transfer rate at up to 400 megabits per second for real time transfers of approximately 5MB per second. The FireWire reader carries a suggested retail of $69.
Lexar Media, Inc has begun global shipments for JumpDrive, a new high speed portable USB flash drive for consumers. With a solid-state architecture and embedded Lexar Media patented controller technology, JumpDrive provides fast and reliable storage and transfer of digital text, images and audio and data files. Ultra-small JumpDrive - roughly the size of a person's thumb - is available in 64 and 128MB memory capacities with manufacturer's suggested list $79.99 and $119.99.
In July, Delkin Devices expanded its line of card readers with the e-Film 6 in-1 card reader/writer. The versatile card reader is compatible with Compact Flash, IBM Microdrive, SmartMedia, MultiMedia, Secure Digital, and MemoryStick cards. Suggested retail: $69.99.
Delkin has also helped pioneer a new product concept, and lucrative add on sale opportunity, with release of its e-Film PicturePad. The product features a built-in LCD screen, imaging software and a high capacity storage drive. It is offered in versions with a 20GB drive for $549 and a 30GB version for $649.
About the size of a PDA, users insert their camera cards or adapters equipped with cards and can upload their image files to the built-in drive. In addition to its built-in 1.8 inch LCD screen, the unit can also be connected to a TV or a computer equipped with USB for viewing images.
"It's a great product for someone who travels and wants a convenient solution for storing or viewing their images," says Parry. "We originally thought of it as something professional photographers could use, but have been pleasantly surprised at how popular it's been with average digital camera users, as well."
Hutchinson at Huron Camera reports the product has already demonstrated its appeal with affluent customers. "The PicturePad has really taken off with the high-end amateur and serious pro looking for a convenient solution for backing up and viewing their images," while traveling.
"There's been other solutions for storing their images," he continues, "but this is the first thing we've seen which also makes it easy to organize and view their pictures without hooking up to a computer."
It's another example of how consumers will respond with their wallets, once they are aware of the options they can get. And, promoting that awareness is the key to selling digital film, card readers and other accessories to digital camera users.
"Show your customers their options, explain what else is available for their digital camera, and why they may need it when you sell them the camera," concludes Rausch. "Once they've had a chance to use the camera, they'll understand the need and be back to buy."