Magazine Article


HP Unveils Two Photosmarts: Express Station Kiosk, Studio

Hewlett Packard Photosmart Express Station Kiosk

The media pricing battlefield for HP is more likely to occur as it gets compared to kiosks that output on dye-sub media—which is most of them. At the PMA convention, dye-sub is being quoted by some suppliers at 16-cents for a 4x6, list, and somewhat below that, for volume. The dye-sub price has become somewhat of a battleground as last year the list prices of 18-22-cents were common. At best, HP will be competitive in its initial thrust but expects scale to bring the inkjet price formula down.

Kalle acknowledges that HP is the new kid on the block when it comes to kiosks. He feels that HP will, nevertheless, be building from the strength it has achieved in home printing and its print technology expertise.

With Kodak alone claiming 35,000 installs for its kiosk family, not counting the rest of the industry, are there any spots left open for HP, Kalle? “The strong players are well entrenched. They will not be unseated overnight. But, contracts are getting shorter, down to 2-3 years. HP is here to stay.”

Maybe as preemptive strikes, Kodak recently sealed a deal to supply Ritz’s 1,100 store chain with its new G4 Picture Kiosk and a few months before that placed about 1,200 Picture Makers in Walgreens. In both cases, Kodak unseated Fuji as the prime kiosk supplier to these accounts.

While Kodak may have moved more aggressively than usual on these two deals, recognizing that HP was about to launch, knowing that it could be done should give Kalle and his team some encouragement that there are opportunities out there for them, also.

HP Photosmart Studio

While HP may be standing on the outside with hat in hand as it fights to break into an already well-supplied kiosk marketplace, they may be onto something with the Photosmart Studio, a system that could be a significant revenue and profit generator for the retail lab.

The focus on the Studio is less on equipment, and more on what products it outputs. In other words, Mr. Lab Owner, let me show you not what I want to sell you, but how we can increase your business with new products and services. Consider:

  • Mini-albums or 12x12 photo albums bound into books with up to 200 photos and a personalized title page;

  • 5x7 folded photo greeting cards;

  • 12x12 spiral bound calendars with anywhere from 12 to 100 photos;

  • Posters of three sizes, single photo, or a collage of up to 50 photos;

  • CD’s with personalized case cover, disk label, and larger than thumbnail image preview booklet;

The neat thing is that HP has a kiosk-type console with unique software that the consumer operates to make the choices as to which images are to be included in any of these products.

Diane Berkenfeld, PTN editor, accompanied me to the HP briefing. She brought with her a media card with a selection of wedding images. Diane loaded the images into the console, decided she wanted a calendar, selected about 50 images in a few minutes and pressed the start button. In about 10 minutes the operator handed her a spiral bound calendar with a group of 4-6 images on each of the 12 pages along with a cover page and single image.

What is unique is that there is a set of algorithms that make the choice as to which pictures are put onto each page. Diane didn’t have to labor over which images were for which pages. It was done for her. We were impressed with the finished product.

Really impressive was to see a 24x36 poster with a collage of maybe 50 prints in a variety of sizes—the random layout selected by the algorithm. Makes for a great product for anniversaries and parties.

When producing an album, Mr. Algorithm figures it out so that the right number of prints are on each page and that no page is left with one orphan print. In making the album, the printer can output up to 10 pages, printed on two sides, for a maximum of 200 images, and complete the job in minutes.

John Cronkrite, HP’s director of sales development, digital photography and entertainment, referred to it as a “true one-hour experience.”