Magazine Article


State of the Industry 2006 I

There is immense profit potential for those eager to adopt new opportunities.

Reinvent Your Business
Brent Bowyer, president and CEO

Do you remember the final moments of the 1969 movie, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid? Do you feel today like Butch and Sundance did right as they opened the door and exited towards the street? Did you know there was an unguarded rear door in that bank and through that door there were two fresh horses tied to a hitching post?

What if Butch and Sundance would have chosen an alternative path? What if they would have selected another means to avoid what was most likely a no win situation? Would we have remembered that movie as well if in the next scene they were riding across the Rio Grande? Probably not. However, if they would have developed some other plan to avoid the certain barrage of bullets being fired directly at them, could they have made the transition from one line of business followed by some independent entrepreneurs than to another line of business followed by other independent entrepreneurial businessmen? Remember that all alleys lead to other main streets and possibly with a new found energy and motivation to participate in a new line of business, they may have been able to be wildly successful by reinventing their business model.

If you are reading this copy of PTN today, you’re an involved individual in our industry and you know the score. You know all the statistics with regard to volume of and location of camera sales, you know how much film is or isn’t being sold, you know what consumers are doing with regard to printing captured images, and you know where images are being printed. You are knowledgeable of the history and like most others you are trying to use it to guide you through the future. So a statement on the state of the industry from me would be just a repeat from what many other, extremely knowledgeable and very bright individuals will tell you so let me take another angle.

I definitely see a world of opportunity for the service specialty retailer to reinvent themselves. I see “digital” providing endless opportunities for the service specialty retailer to create products and provide personalized services like never before. I see the ability for each service specialty retailer to provide “content” along with images in hardcopy, softcopy, and archival means never seen before. Our industry’s more traditional powerhouses are providing opportunities for all of this as are other Fortune 500 companies like FujiXerox, HP, and Xerox.

I know business is tough for many right now but I also know there are opportunities and see business models that are thriving or will be soon. Reinventing isn’t an option any longer, it’s a necessity. Join a buying group so you’re sure not to miss the opportunities, be able to identify the viable business models, and reinvent your business for success. Other business entrepreneurs do it all the time and so can you. That’s the state of where we need to be! Viva la Butch and Sundance!

PRO – Photographic Research Org.
The Innovative Retailer Will Prosper
Mike Worswick, President

The coming months represent a time of opportunity for photo specialty retailers. The availability of digital SLR cameras from seven suppliers will boost consumer awareness of the performance, function and desirability of these products. Camera stores who understand the accessory business will reap sales and margin benefits.

Some industry analysts predict a downturn in overall digital camera unit volume. The opportunity exists for specialty stores to run counter to this trend. Exciting additional lens, flash and accessory options for SLR cameras hold great sales promise for 2007. Many of these products will sell in small volumes. Combine low volumes per SKU with the number of lens mount variations and most mass merchants will avoid these products.

The key to photofinishing success is to help customers enjoy the pictures they make. Retailers need to stop worrying about 4x6 prints. The key will be to find picture based products that are desired by the customer. In the digital picture era, retailers will need to provide more creative options to find success. This would include photo books, montage posters or framed and matted enlargements. Innovative retailers are creating fabulous stickers, metal wall displays with photos, professional quality photo note cards, etc.

Customers take pictures because they fulfill a need. Photo retailers must understand the various needs of their customers and provide photo based products that meet those needs. Retailers who innovate like Lakeside Camera, Metairie, LA or Harold’s Photo in Sioux Falls, SD demonstrate the opportunity to thrive in the next decade.

Adobe Systems Inc.
Stepping Up Integration for Photography Workflows
Kevin Connor, Senior Director of Product Management for Digital Imaging

With today’s virtual buffet of software and hardware, photographers are empowered to be selective about the tools they incorporate to streamline their workflows. However, piecing together a solution using products from different manufacturers often means an experience lacking integration. Adobe Lightroom helps photographers by smoothing the workflow into a more seamless experience. Nevertheless, photographers should have the ability to supplement their workflow with any product they choose, and manufacturers need to make that less painful.

While cross-manufacturer integration exists, it has its shortcomings. EXIF enables camera-generated metadata to travel across the workflow, but it doesn’t standardize all common metadata such as ratings and keywords. ICC-based color management can ensure consistent color reproduction, but differing approaches across manufacturers make configuration challenging. Standardized file formats like JPEG and TIFF allow easy file exchange, but photographers who choose to shoot in raw are forced to deal with the complications of multiple proprietary file formats.

As an industry leader, Adobe provides solutions that address these problems, notably with XMP, which provides a method to maintain metadata, and the .DNG standard raw file format. However, more work needs to be done. The industry must work together to break down the barriers that constrain our customers.

Canon USA
Target the Informed Consumer
Eliott Peck, VP/GM, Sales, Consumer Imaging Division

After years of record digital camera sales, U.S. market growth has begun to level off. In 2004, the total digital P&S camera market size hit just under 20 million units, a growth of about 32% from 2003. In 2005, the market reached 24 million units—about 21% growth and in 2006, we expect 26 million units sold. Despite the cool down, digital cameras maintain their “Cool” status within consumers’ mindset and about 50% of today’s digital camera buyers are repeat purchasers. Today’s consumer walks into the retail environment with a pre-determined notion of what they want from their next digital camera, including more features (bigger LCD screens, Image Stabilization and bigger zooms); stylish designs; and ease-of-use. As a result, manufacturers are offering a wider range of models at various price-points to attract consumers.

This presents both a challenge and an opportunity for retailers. They have to be on target with the products they stock in their stores. They need knowledgeable staff to more effectively communicate with a greater number of well-informed consumers. They also have to clearly explain feature-benefits and selling points in-store.