Magazine Article


State of the Industry 2006 I

Our industry should be collectively promoting the ease of printing and the joy that output in various forms can provide as well as the ease and importance of storing, archiving and organizing images. These are all essential elements of the Culture of Photography, which Fujifilm is working to preserve.

Hasselblad USA Inc.
Opportunities Abound for Training Professionals
Jack Showalter, CEO

2006 is seeing digital photography move more into the mainstream professional digital market segment. Many of the early digital adopters were amateurs and advanced amateurs, but as digital image quality improves, most high-end professionals are realizing that if they are not digital now, they will be in the near future, if they wish to survive.

Unfortunately, many newcomers to professional digital photography have been told they can now “do it all themselves,” and no longer need the assistance of training or imaging professionals. It is true that digital photography has some distinct advantages over film. Just like in film, however, there are processes and technologies either to be learned or to be left for trained professionals. Color management, asset management, digital processing and digital printing are just a few areas that need to be addressed.

Moving forward, we see tremendous opportunity for training as well as services targeted at the professional digital shooter. As file sizes grow, the number of images increases, quality requirements increase, and turn-around time requirements are reduced, we see huge potential in the digital lab and services arena. We see many opportunities in the digital segment for digital experts to help ensure the image on the print matches the creative concept in the mind of the photographer.

Meet the Consumer Demand for Unique Photo Products
Larry Lesley, Senior Vice President, Digital Photography & Entertainment

Digital photography has hit the mainstream market and with that brought an explosion of possibilities and choices for consumers…as well as for retailers and vendors. Consumers want the ability to easily and affordably “tell their stories” through high-quality prints as well as through personalized photo products, such as photo books, calendars, greeting cards, posters, and more.

What does this mean for retailers or vendors? It means they must meet this consumer demand by offering a broader set of solutions that are more easily accessible to consumers. At the same time, retailers need to continuously find ways to improve the economics of the traditional photo offerings while increasing the breadth of offerings they provide in an economically viable way. This requires greater flexibility in their operations as well as the solutions they use.

At HP, we anticipate significant growth in demand for retail photo solutions that enable more instantaneous and self-serve printing as well as growth in retail photo solutions that provide consumers with easy access to a much broader suite of compelling photo merchandise now made possible through digital photography. A great example is our HP Photosmart Studio that enables consumers to create photo albums, calendars, posters, booklets, cards, and more all ordered at a kiosk in-store, in less than 10 minutes, and delivered by the retailers in a one-hour service format.

We also see growth in retail photo solutions with radically lower cost structures and operational requirements, and a continued movement away from silver halide-based solutions and towards “dry” solutions such as inkjet.

History has shown us time and again that despite the circumstances of a given period in time—political or otherwise—the fact remains that people continue to have memories or stories that they wish to capture or tell in image form and share across the world. This means that people will continue to take pictures and have a need for services that enable them to share their stories.

Kingston Technology Co., Inc.
The Expanding World of Flash
Mark Leathem, Director of Marketing and Business Development

The great thing about the Memory Card or Flash Card business is that some things are inevitable: larger capacities, faster speeds, improved technologies, and the expansion of digital devices. Kingston’s newly released CompactFlash Ultimate cards reach a high capacity of 8GB and come with new technology: OnTrack EasyRecovery Professional software—making it the ideal CompactFlash card. Also upcoming are products allowing for easy transfer of pictures to portable digital formats such as USB flash drives—the perfect instant back-up solution. This is all beginning to happen. No crystal ball needed for that.

What may be less obvious is the impact that digital workflow is having on the products sold by photo retailers. Expect to see more Flash or USB drives sold in stores. The move from the prosumer photographer to “Everyday Joe/Joanna” is being accelerated as some photo stores begin to “simplify” their environment to cater to the nervous and often intimidated users. This is one of the reasons why Kingston redesigned its packaging. We wanted to make our products as user friendly and appealing as possible. Out with the harsh, dour technology cards; in with softer, inspirational visuals. Cards that remind your customer of what they are trying to achieve. And, of course, the cards stand out on the shelf! This softening image for the photo dealer seems to be spreading.

As a result, the opportunities to sell developing services and accessory products multiply and the “Photoshop” guy becomes the resource for the new digital lifestyle. For example, have you ever seen the excitement with which consumers greet digital picture frames (powered of course, by Flash cards)? Witness the growth of cellphones with cameras of 1.8 megapixels or more. Also growing is the expanded use of USB flash drives like Kingston’s DataTraveler as back-up and storage for precious photos (10 years maximum).

We are beginning to see another trend—more software applications as value-adds to flash cards. As I mentioned, Kingston’s CompactFlash Ultimate cards come preloaded with award winning OnTrack Easy Recovery software. We suspect that this may just be the start of something to differentiate cards from those that mass retailers love to discount just to generate foot traffic. With memory products ranging from computer memory to flash cards and memory for cellphones, Kingston is clearly a one-stop memory solution for retailers and consumers.

Leica Camera
Digital Innovations Update Classics
Roger Horn, President

Due to today’s economic instability, consumers are being extremely cautious about their buying habits and looking for products that can withstand the test of time. Digital innovations are no longer viewed as impulse purchases, but more as investments. With price points on a steady incline, almost as much thought goes into purchasing a digital camera as purchasing a new refrigerator or leasing a new car.