Magazine Article


The State of the Imaging Industry 2004

More Pictures than Ever Before

by Machiko Ouchi
Editor-in-Chief, PEN Weekly, published by the Joint PhotoImaging Enterprises Association International (JPEAI) Digital imaging is becoming more popular and more important every year. The wave of digitization overwhelmed conventional photography this year as digicams are selling 10 times more than film cameras on the Japanese market (3.952 million units vs 0.358 million) and 6 times on the world market (26.472 million vs 4.440 million) as of June 2004. The dissemination ratio surpassed the 50% mark as of March 2004.

People love the convenience of viewing images on an LCD monitor just after shooting them and the variety of enjoyments that digicams provide. Images can be printed at home or at retail and can be manipulated to the consumer's liking. Digital photography offers a wider scope of enjoyment of images than its analog counterpart.

And other changes are afoot. For instance, there is the camera phone, a mobile phone with a digital camera that is a personal gadget not for the household. Over 82 million units of cell phones are now working in Japan with some 70% of the population owning a cell phone, about 85% of which are camera phones. They can be used for business or private scenes by taking pictures and transmitting them to share with your colleagues or family and friends.

The combination of images and telecommunications offers numerous convenient services from purchasing tickets and drinks to locking and unlocking your apartment door. You can watch TV programs and store music on memory cards. Applications are countless. People use a cell phone as it is convenient and carry it with them everywhere to take pictures more casually like taking a memo.

However, people may prefer a decent digicam when taking photos at family events and on trip. So, D-cams and camera phones will coexist for different purposes and people will take more pictures than before. The imaging industry must promote quality images for the preservation of memories from an everlasting format.

Differentiate, Accessorize, and Print!

by Mark Roth
President, Argraph Corporation The photo industry is adapting to monumental changes and it is prospering. Digital has surpassed traditional photography and those who have embraced digital are reaping the rewards. While digital cameras are driving sales in both photo specialty and mass market, there are huge opportunities that photo specialty dealers are uniquely positioned to exploit.

The keys to exploiting these opportunities are: Differentiate, Accessorize, and Print, Print, Print!

The demand is there. Your job is to get your customers to buy their new digital cameras from your store. Accentuate what differentiates your store from the mass marketers—your expertise, knowledge and personal service. In most cases you can match their prices, add the valuable extras that you can offer and they can't, and make a good profit.

Every digital camera sale should include accessories (marketers now call this the "attachment rate"—make yours 100%). Start with the usual suspects: bags and cases, tripods, filters. Then add the digital-specific needs: every camera you sell should go with extra memory cards, a card reader, and rechargeable batteries and charger. And finally, sell new accessories designed specifically for digital photography: Internet Photo Studio for product shots for eBay, catalogs, etc.; Halo-Light for macro photography; QP colorkit for correct color balance; CD/DVD burners to archive images.

Digital printing at retailers grew at an astonishing rate in the past year. This explosive growth is fueled by consumers getting the message about the benefits of in-store digital printing—lower cost, higher quality, and greater convenience. The majority of people don't want to come home from vacation and sit at their computers reviewing and printing all those shots. Consumers are learning they can drop off their (digital) film and get back true photo quality digital prints for much less than it will cost them to print at home.

This growth in printing is just beginning—the majority of digital images are still printed at home. And even more digital images are never printed at all. Everyone knows this represents lost revenues for the photo industry, but it also represents potential lost memories for consumers.

emory cards are lost, files deleted, hard drives crash, and nobody knows for sure if today's CDs will be compatible with future formats. But prints…. Haven't we all happened upon an old forgotten print that unleashed a flood of memories? Those priceless memories are lost when images aren't printed. Convince your customers of the potential reward for printing all their images and you won't miss film at all.

And when you present your customers with the beautiful prints you've made from their digital images, be sure to sell the frames and albums to show them.

Things to Consider

by Rob Eby