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Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Photography Companies Try a New Approach via NYT

For several years, photography companies and retailers alike have watched desperately as sales of their favorite cash cow, camera film, were plowed under by the merciless juggernaut of film-free digital photography. The companies kept hoping that sales of in-store services to turn electronic images into prints would pick up the slack. They never did.Why not? Because, consumer research showed, a lot of amateur photographers did not realize that it was as easy to drop off a digital camera's memory card for processing as it was to drop off a roll of film. And those who did were often loath to give up control of an expensive card holding hundreds of nonreplicable photographic memories. The purveyors of photo printing services have certainly tried to get the word out.The industry's latest answer to the conundrum is to pepper stores with self-service kiosks where consumers can edit photos and make their own prints from digital memory cards. Tens of thousands of kiosks are now in drugstores and discount stores. So, with such critical mass finally achieved, the companies are rolling out the advertising cannons.Kodak intends to set up 20 wireless kiosks at the Olympics in Athens - the first time the company has set up a center at an Olympics site that serves amateurs as well as professional photographers.The pace of opening self-service kiosks is so heady that even owners of photo specialty stores - who, logic would dictate, would bridle at any suggestion that consumers do anything self-service - have stopped fighting the trend and are welcoming it instead.

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