*NEWS*INK CTGS THE NEW BLOOD SPORT…..

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*NEWS*INK CTGS THE NEW BLOOD SPORT…..

 user 2006-07-18 at 11:35:00 am Views: 97
  • #16167

    Spilling More Ink in The Digital Realm
    Forget
    the printer wars. Ink is the new blood sport in the printing market,
    thanks to the budding growth of digital photo prints.Get ready for
    users and vendors to spill more of it, with smiles all around.In a
    consumer and business world utterly saturated with printers that do
    everything but take out the cat, a new niche is starting to emerge: The
    single-function photo printer, typically printing snapshot-size photos
    on glossy paper.In addition, more and more multi-function printers that
    copy, fax and scan are now shipping with all kinds of memory readers
    for photos.Printer makers, feeling the pinch of dropping prices for
    printers, are looking to build back their margins on ink sales.
    Printing digital photos is in that sweet spot.Looks like consumers are
    in the mood to oblige, too. We’re seeing a subtle shift among digital
    camera owners to print more images beyond the usual pack of early
    adopters. It’s easy to see why.Seems that no matter how much digital
    photography has reshaped the old guard of the photography industry, our
    connection to printing and publishing images dear to us is too strong
    to snap off after a few years of digital device adoption.Viewing them
    on a device is one thing. Holding a glossy, sticking it on your fridge,
    framing it, slapping it on your t-shirt – the ease of that from a
    digital file is the next growth phase to watch.That’s not to say photo
    printing has ramped up with the explosion of digital camera adoption.
    Far from it.Printer sales in the consumer realm are overall still
    fairly flat, according to IDC, as well as InfoTrends, which tracks
    consumer behavior with digital photo and merchandise.But
    single-function photo printing is spreading, along with sales of
    multi-function inkjets that cover this category, mostly in the
    direction of retail outlets, notes Sandra Collins, senior consultant
    with research firm InfoTrends. She’s projecting about a 124 percent
    growth in photo-centric printers between this year and next.”More
    people are buying cameras, but that doesn’t mean people are printing
    more,” she cautions. After all, folks are also enjoying the freedom of
    choosing what not to print from their digital troves.Plus, a larger
    chunk of the photo-printing volume is flowing to retail kiosks, for
    example. It’s a perfect outlet for busy moms: drop the photo disk at a
    drug store’s printing area, pick out more diapers.Still, InfoTrends
    reckons that the retail value of all inkjet cartridges for desktop-type
    inkjet printers was $13.5 billion in the U.S. alone (that’s a different
    ink category than retail kiosks). This year, it expects that number to
    rise to $15.1 billion, up by 11.8 percent, according to InfoTrends’
    John Shane.Wouldn’t you think that the younger generation, which never
    experienced analogs like vinyl records, would be pooh-poohing printing?
    After all, why print when you can share your images on a Web site and
    create a digital equivalent of a scrapbook?InfoTrends’ data suggests
    otherwise. Turns out the 18-to-24 age group is the most likely to
    print, as well as those 25 to 34 years old. And they capture more
    images too, between 141 and 143 every three months.On average though,
    the firm found that about 67 percent of people print most often at
    home. And probably about 37 percent of that group (digital camera
    owners who print) in multiple locations.Keith Kmetz, hardcopy research
    analyst for IDC, is seeing a lot of blurring in the printer area
    because of the emerging printing trends from digital images.”We’re even
    seeing color laser devices incorporating photo slots,” he says, as well
    as general inkjet devices challenging the photo-centric printers
    hitting the consumer market.It’s just a different kind of
    photo-printing dynamic at play now. People are sharing their photos
    online, and perhaps printing from those sites, such as HP’s
    Snapfish.com.It’s not explosive growth, but it’s enough to give
    printers heart and give camera owners a new sense of ownership and
    creativity about how they use those digital files.All the major printer
    players are adding these slots to their printers, with visions of more
    ink cartridges spilling into their margins.Lexmark , for example,
    recently introduced a 450 Series printer that does 4 x 6 glossies in
    lots of different incarnations: photos, scrapbook features, greeting
    cards, index cards.It’s also the first photo-centric printer that lets
    you burn CDs as well as read from one. So not only is the company
    targeting folks fed up with using their computers for simple image
    printing, but it’s also addressing the backup and security for those
    precious images.I played around with the 450 and found myself
    delightfully surprised with the ease of use and how it fueled my
    creative juices.Although the quick-start guide was utterly out of synch
    with the LCD readout explaining how to get started, it’s intuitive
    enough and similar in menu format to most cell phones and kiosks that
    getting to print was easy enough with some hacking around.The main menu
    could use a little less tunneling to get to cropping, red-eye and other
    retouching features. But my frustrations melted away once the stunning
    images from my 8 Megapixel camera rolled off the printer.In a snap, I
    had joined the growing numbers of digital camera owners reconnecting
    with that tactile pleasure of holding a photo image in their hands,
    sticking it on a fridge, or framing it for display.Truckloads of
    photo-focused printers are already rumbling into the market, at
    pricepoints of about $200 or so, and more are on the way this
    fall.They’re carrying with them a real one-demand printing world, an
    ability to connect with our images the old-fashioned way, and new
    avenues of creativity with digital images. Let the ink spill.