Magazine Article


The State of the Imaging Industry 2004

There is still much to be done to educate the consumer on their many options. Working together, the industry can benefit from the impressive potential offered by both film and digital technology. The consumer wants pictures. Let's make sure they can get them.

Print for Permanence

by Kerry Flatley,
Consultant, InfoTrends/CAP Ventures Digital camera ownership continues to grow. At the end of 2003, 30% of U.S. households owned a digital camera and 41% are expected to own one by the end of 2004. While this is good news for digital camera manufacturers, retail photofinishers continue to question if digital cameras will help or hurt their businesses.

For many retailers, digital cameras have had a negative impact on their business since many digital camera owners print at home. But over the past year, InfoTrends' surveys have revealed that more digital camera users are printing at retail stores. In a May Internet survey, 24% of digital camera users said that they had printed at a retail store—either at a photo kiosk or over-the-counter. In 2003, only about 10% of digital users had printed at retail.

Retailers are now more fully equipped with digital technology and are getting the message out through local and mass advertising—and it appears to be working. In a February survey, 32% of respondents said that their local film processing location could produce prints from digital cameras, while two years earlier 68% answered that they "didn't know." Print traffic should follow an increase in awareness.

What about the digital camera users who do not print any of their digital photos? InfoTrends' recent survey shows that about 11% of digital camera users do not print. Getting these users to print would certainly help increase print volumes. All digital camera users should understand that the lives of digital files are precarious when not backed up and one of the best ways to ensure that photos last for generations is through prints. If retailers emphasize this message, it could not only pull more digital camera users into stores for prints, but could also save families the heartache of losing photos to the shortcomings of technology.

The Challenges of "Interesting Times"

by Lisa Walker
President, International Imaging Industry Association (I3A) Just when we thought we might have finally adapted our business models to the new world of digital photography, we're hit again with the next wave of change. This time, it's the phenomenal overnight success of mobile imaging that presents both challenge and opportunity, in tsunami-size doses.

First, the opportunities in mobile imaging—what happens when we change the way we use photography, from just capturing special occasions to being a visual communications tool ("Is this the thingy you wanted me to buy at the hardware store?")?

At the same time, the more traditional capture of "moments" will also increase simply because the camera is now ubiquitously attached to our hips. Those occasions that used to be marked by the words "I wish I had my camera!" will now be marked with a picture. We'll get many more "keepers" to share, to print, to store, to generate more revenue.

Other opportunities lie in the Good Samaritan aspect of mobile imaging, those moments when camera-phones are being used to foil crimes, save lives, or capture criminals simply because a camera with a transmitter attached to it was at hand.

The challenges, of course, are keeping pace with the changes, and rallying companies from a broad range of converging industries to work together to ensure the underlying infrastructure and interoperability needed to leverage these opportunities are built, and that's where I3A steps in.

Digital Camera Printing Rapidly Growing

by Joe Diliberto
President, Photographic Manufacturers & Distributors Association (PMDA)

It is not often that we can experience the kind of consumer excitement that is currently taking place in the photo industry. Digital technology has enabled new innovative products to be introduced at a rapid pace including digital cameras, digital one-time-use cameras, camera phones, digitally enabled kiosks and digital minilabs.

Consumer awareness of digital camera printing is growing rapidly. According to PMA research, the number of prints being made from digital cameras is now growing at a pace faster than predicted at the beginning of this year. While growth is occurring in all three of the key areas including making prints at retail, at home and online, prints at retail are outpacing other methods, with kiosks showing the greatest growth.

Consumers are definitely responding to the information, education and availability of printing options. They are enjoying the experience they are having as they discover a variety of options to get prints from their digital camera and the ease of sharing, and displaying those pictures. Now that we have reached this stage, we can expect both the sales of new or repeat digital camera purchases to be very strong during this upcoming holiday season and we will see the number of prints growing at a more rapid pace.