Everyone in the photo business, retailer and manufacturer alike, continues to look for ways to expand its customer base in the digital world as roll film goes the way of the buggy whip. The retailer’s challenge: bring in new equipment in order to attract new customers. Interestingly, the manufacturer has the same challenge.
Kodak is dealing with the challenge with a brand new kiosk, model GS, a very compact system, that is intended to open two new opportunities: its existing chain store customers with older, small locations that can’t afford to allocate space or capital investment for a full size G-4 kiosk setup; non-traditional locations (coffee shops, card stores, book stores, etc.) that are looking to offer new services but with the expectation of very low print output.
The GS comes to market at a time the full-sized kiosk has about reached the limits of its technical prowess with future developments coming in baby steps though the number of retail placements in traditional outlets continues to expand along with the needs of the consumer. The new GS, a by-product of its bigger brother, pursues its mission to open new locations for retail photo printing from digital media.
Consider these specs: a countertop footprint of 16.5-inches wide and 27.5-inches deep; print speed of 11-seconds each; designed for locations with an expected output of 30-50 prints a day; 6-inch paper only; a 10-inch touch screen monitor; software with a G-4 feel to it; cost: $2,500.
Compare this with the full sized Kodak G-4 kiosk, of which Kodak claims to have about 45,000 U.S. installs: a five second per print output; multiple printers delivering up to 8x12 prints; ability to run almost continuously; set on a floor stand. Cost: $7,500.
Like its sibling, the GS will accept all media cards as well as CD (no DVD), download using Bluetooth 2.0, and output to CD.
Rowan Lawson, Kodak’s worldwide marketing director, kiosk group, refers to the GS as “a counter solution in a box”.
Rowan said that the GS, introduced at PMA in February, is now being shipped to Kodak customers. He would not reveal who these customers are but did indicate that these are existing customers who, for various reasons, have no on-site solution for consumers looking for digital prints. Usually, it’s a matter of available space that would suggest an older branch location.
He acknowledged that the very low capacity would not be appropriate for a traditional photo location but sees the GS as suitable for many non-traditional retail sites. He would not discuss how Kodak was planning to develop these non-traditional channels, but a single call to Starbucks headquarters in Seattle could mean over 13,000 worldwide installations. Also, calls to 7-11, Borders, and Exxon could generate big numbers for Kodak rather quickly.
And, while the low level of output at 30-50 prints a day and slow speed would suggest little appeal to the typical consumer making media prints in big numbers, it would be a competitive nuisance and volume lost to the traditional photo trade.
The GS system includes a new dye-sub printer, model 605, designed for this specific kiosk that uses the same 6-inch media of the G-4 and will output in sizes of 4x6, 5x7 and 6x8. A single 375-foot roll will yield 750, 4x6 prints. The cost per print will depend on the purchasing volume of the buyer, but dye-sub prints usually fall in the 10-14 cents arena for a 4x6 size.
While the retailer sets the consumer price it would be expected to follow along with a chain’s pricing structure of between 19 and 29-cents per 4x6 found at its larger stores. At a non-traditional site, it could go higher.
John Witzel, Kodak’s worldwide market development line manager, said the GS system could be set up with a password lock so that a retailer could control a customer’s print output.
Rowan Lawson acknowledged that the GS “is not as robust as a G-4” but the model 605 printer “is expected to last a minimum of three years at normal print volumes”. The system carries a 90-day warranty.
The major components of the GS are covered by Kodak’s Advanced Unit Replacement (AUR) service program. If either the printer or console fail Kodak will immediately ship out a replacement component which is then sent back to Kodak in the same box.
Kodak has also introduced a new model 805 printer, a behind-the-counter dye-sub printer for low volume output of enlargements of 8x12. Output rate is about 70-seconds a print compared to 44 seconds for the model 8810 printer used in the G-4 kiosk. Price: $1,000.