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Prints the key to Digital Photography?

By dpreview staff on Apr 27, 2001 at 04:00 GMT

According to a report by InfoTrends titled "Photo Kiosks and Digital Minilabs To Fuel Digital Photography Revolution", they expect Digital minilabs to grow from their current 4% penetration to about 70% by 2006. I personally found this report kind of surprising, while getting Prints is definetly an important part of the "digital revolution" I don't believe it's the most important part, there are lots of other supporting technologies which need to mature more quickly. Fact: Digital Photographers print far less than Film Photographers because they simply don't need to.

Photo Kiosks and Digital Minilabs To Fuel Digital Photography Revolution

A new report by InfoTrends Research Group forecasts the proliferation of digital solutions that will provide a retail infrastructure to fuel the digital photography revolution. Photo kiosks are public consumer-operated stations that allow users to work with their own photos, while digital minilabs, located behind the retail counter, process film and print from a digital file.

"Our research shows that photo kiosk usage is growing," says Kerry Flatley, research analyst for InfoTrends Research Group. "Awareness and usage are still low, with less than 20% of U.S. households having used a photo kiosk, but satisfaction among users is relatively high, providing opportunity for much growth. The installed base of photo kiosks in North America is projected to grow from around 26,000 in 2000 to almost 150,000 by 2006."

Most consumers today use photo kiosks for making reprints (72%) or enlargements (64%) from their snapshots. They are attracted to the convenience and customization offered by kiosks, compared to the traditional approach of handling negatives and waiting days for the results. Now new features and functions are being introduced into kiosks, boosting other uses. New features include photo kiosks aimed specifically at digital camera users who want immediate prints; kiosks that accept credit cards, and thus can be located virtually anywhere; kiosks that use alternative types of print engines such as inkjet; and kiosks that have no print engines, but send photos directly to the Web or to a remote high speed print engine, such as a digital minilab. The report profiles key players such as Agfa, Digital Portal, Fujifilm, Gretag/Seiko Epson, Kodak, Konica, Pixel Magic, Sony, and Xerox.

The digital minilab market is also detailed in the report. "Digital minilabs offer many advantages over analog, and are forecast to rapidly replace analog labs, growing from just 4% penetration in 2000 to about 70% penetration by 2006," says Flatley. "The market leader, Fujifilm, will be challenged in coming years by vendors like Agfa, Konica, Gretag, Indigo, Kodak, Noritsu, Photo-Me, and Phogenix." A third type of retail digital photofinishing solution, digital "bridge" solutions, is also detailed in the report. These are photo workstations that allow retailers to provide digital services, such as photo CDs, without investing in fully digital labs.

The report outlines the impact of these digital photofinishing solutions in retail environments. Today, they primarily serve film users, but digital camera users seeking simple one-hour processing will make up an increasingly significant part of their base.

The new report, "Retail Digital Photofinishing Market Outlook," available immediately, is a comprehensive study that includes five-year market forecasts, end user research, applications, and vendor profiles for photo kiosks, minilabs, and bridge solutions. A related study, "Online Photo Services Forecast: Playing by New Rules," is also available.

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