A new study published by InfoTrends/Cap Ventures reveals that while most digital camera owners are taking more photos than they ever had that most of them aren't printing and when they do it's only in small numbers. Most users share their photos through e-mail or online. This is something I've been arguing for some time now, obviously there are some manufacturers who have vested interest in increasing the number of digital photos printed however thanks to pervasive Internet usage and other methods of sharing images users simply don't feel the need to print.

Press Release:

Consumer Digital Photo Printing Habits Detailed in
New InfoTrends/CAP Ventures Study

WEYMOUTH, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 23, 2004--A new consumer study from InfoTrends/CAP Ventures reveals clear skies as well as clouds on the horizon for the digital photo printing industry.

The short-term outlook for the photo print industry is good. Among the positive signs are that digital camera users who print photos are taking far more pictures than they ever did with film and printing far more "enlargements" (larger than 4" x 6" prints). In addition, these users expect their print volumes to increase in the future. On the other hand, excluding a few ultra-heavy users, the average photo print volumes and expenditures for digital camera users are currently no higher than film camera households. In addition, simple digital sharing through e-mail and other methods threatens to undermine the need for photo printing, unless vendors convince consumers that prints are an archival method as well as a sharing vehicle.

"Nearly half of all Internet users still don't print digital photos at all," says Kristy Holch, a Group Director at InfoTrends/CAP Ventures. "Consumer photo printing has not quite kept pace with the proliferation of digital cameras. Consumer comments reveal the causes, such as home printers that are low-quality or out of service, too many steps in the printing process, lack of time, or not enough interest in having a printed photo. These results indicate that improving ease-of-use would boost average print volume."

In an effort to help the industry understand how to target each group, this study profiles heavy printers against those who do not print at all. For example, the heavy printer profile (those who print more than 20 photos per month) includes those who are affluent, technology-savvy, and/or place higher value on photo memories. Those without digital cameras are profiled as well, since they are responsible for over 15% of the total digital photos printed.

Among Internet users who print digital photos, 90% print photos at home, but only 68% of total prints are produced at home. The remaining photos are printed at retail, at work, or online. Retailers are in a battle to get digital camera users to print photos as they always did - outside the home. Retail printing is gaining ground, but most consumers today still prefer the convenience of home printing whenever possible.

Vendors can better determine whether digital photography will result in a net gain or loss for their business with help from InfoTrends/CAP Ventures' new survey report entitled 2004 Consumer Photo Printing End User Survey and Analysis. This 147-page study is available immediately and is accompanied by two sets of 165-page data tabulations. Results are based on an extensive survey of U.S. Internet users. The report details user habits in terms of picture-taking, photo sharing, printing, and storage. Coverage includes the purchase and use of consumables, printer types, photo uses, brand preferences, and perceptions about various print locations. Breakouts detail results by print location, print volume, demographics, and more.