HP JOINS IN RETAIL PHOTO MARKET

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HP JOINS IN RETAIL PHOTO MARKET

 user 2006-02-28 at 11:32:00 am Views: 42
  • #14651

    HP joins in retail photo market
    New self-service printing kiosks finish a complete consumer package
    Hewlett-Packard is betting that consumers are ready to embrace the full
    range of digital photo-printing possibilities – and that retailers will
    trust HP to deliver them.

    With
    a strong lineup of specialty printers, papers and inks, HP has always
    been a major market force in at-home printing of photos from digital
    cameras.
    Last year the company acquired a substantial presence in
    the Internet end of the business with its purchase of the Snapfish
    online photofinishing service.
    Now HP is going after the last remaining piece of the digital photo imaging market: retail.
    Today
    the company plans to introduce a suite of products aimed at consumers
    who still prefer to make prints the old-fashioned way – by going to
    their neighborhood drugstore, supermarket or camera shop.
    The move
    “completes the troika” of photo-processing services for HP, said Rich
    Duncombe, vice president for retail photo solutions. “We have the home,
    we have the online, and now we have the retail.”
    The Photosmart
    Express Station is a self-service kiosk resembling a touch-screen ATM.
    It has a half-dozen ports that accept every major digital image storage
    medium, from a memory stick to a DVD.
    Incorporating scalable inkjet
    printing technology and image processing software developed in
    Corvallis, the machine can produce a batch of fully dry,
    ready-to-handle 4-by-6-inch prints in under five minutes, HP claims.
    Payment is on the spot with the swipe of a credit card.
    The other,
    more ambitious part of the package, called the Photosmart Studio, lets
    consumers turn their photos into a wide array of personalized products,
    from albums to posters and greeting cards to calendars.
    Following
    the “one hour” format popularized by the last generation of film
    processors, the Studio is set up to let customers place an order using
    a self-service kiosk like the Express Station, then return to pick up
    their goodies after completing their other errands.
    The Studio would
    use both inkjet and laser printers for various printing tasks. It also
    comes with bindery equipment and a CD burner for customers who want to
    store photos on disc.
    Store employees would collect payment, do album binding and handle other tasks.
    “What
    this enables the retailer to provide to the consumer is a broad range
    of choices,” said John Cronkrite, director of worldwide sales and
    business development for HP. “We’re bringing forth a plethora of new
    capabilities the industry doesn’t have.”
    The whole Photosmart suite,
    including an Express kiosk and the complete Studio setup, will sell for
    $50,000 – about half the cost of a traditional silver-halide
    photo-processing system, according to Cronkrite.
    Hewlett-Packard
    officials have not released price information on any of the Photosmart
    printing services, saying retailers will set their own rates.So far,
    Albertsons, Bashas’ Supermarkets and Longs Drugs have signed on with
    the HP program. Longs plans to introduce the Photosmart Studio in 100
    of its 470 stores between April and June.
    The other retailers have
    not yet announced their plans, but Bashas’ has about 150 stores in the
    Southwest while Albertsons (recently sold to a consortium of other
    companies) has 2,500 stores in 37 states.
    In addition to selling the
    photo processing equipment, HP also stands to cash in with follow-on
    orders of ink, paper, toner, binding supplies and other consumables.
    Hewlett-Packard
    faces significant challenges in trying to break into the retail photo
    processing arena, said Ron Glaz, who manages the digital imaging
    program for market research firm IDC.
    The print-making kiosk
    territory has been pretty well staked out by Kodak, Fujifilm, Sony,
    Lucidien and Pixel Magic, Glaz said, while HP’s brand is a newcomer in
    retail processing.|“Those five vendors represent about 90 percent of
    the kiosks out there in that market,” he said.“Most of the major retail
    chains … are covered by Kodak or Fujifilm.”
    On the other hand,
    Glaz said, the concept of a one-hour in-store processing center that
    can deliver “creative solutions” such as photo albums, greeting cards
    and calendars is new to the retail market.
    “They bring to the table
    a lot more than just the kiosk,” Glaz said. “They can really bring the
    full digital photo printing solution to a retailer.”What’s more, HP may
    be able to offer retailers more attractive margins on prints because
    its printers are more cost-effective than the industry standard
    dye-sublimation technology used by most of the current kiosks.
    “Their true advantage is their using inkjet print solutions,” Glaz said.
    Ultimately,
    he said, the market – both retailers and consumers – will determine the
    fate of HP’s venture into retail photo processing“There’s a couple of
    things that need to happen,” Glaz said. “Retailers need to buy the
    photo solution, but they also need to educate the market that there’s
    more you can do than just print 4-by-6 and 5-by-7s.