By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Manufacturers are in a full-court press to lure retailers to adopt their kiosk solutions, but Applied Science Fiction (ASF) is using retailers to lure OEMs to embrace their concept Digital PIC imaging kiosk.
The company is testing a version of its Digital PIC in seven CVS locations in the Boston-area as well as at Camera Land, a specialty photo dealer in New York City. It has already completed a test at Austin, Texas-based Precision Camera and Video, and is set to run further tests overseas.
"We're demonstrating to manufacturers that this system works, and can be profitable to all involved," said Dan Sullivan, president and CEO, ASF.
The scaleable kiosk is unique among its various competitors in that it contains the first-ever dry film process. It can process a roll of 35mm film, without chemicals or water, in 10 minutes. It produces a CD of images in three resolutions but no photographic negative. The CD also contains a basic viewer program so customers can view a slide show of images on their PC.
Since it creates no chemical waste, the unit is being positioned as an avenue to photofinishing where environmental regulations prohibit chemical processing. It is also posited as an alternative to "one-hour" processing since a roll of film can be processed and printed by a customer in under 15 minutes.
The Digital PIC's ultimate configuration and cost will depend, in part, on the manufacturer who agrees to produce and distribute the kiosk and the retailers who adopts it. The device can serve as a front-end to an RA-4 printer, can output to dye-sub printers (the model currently employed at CVS and Camera Land) and can feature a flatbed scanner for digitizing prints.
When it is picked up by an OEM, which Sullivan expects to happen in early 2003, ASF will sell them a proprietary developing agent while the OEM will generate revenue by selling print media to the retailer.
According to Sullivan, the company's retail angle is letting customers "go digital with what they have." Film cameras have about a 96 percent market penetration, but interest in digitizing images is growing, said Sullivan. According to the latest data from the Photo Market Association (PMA), even when users buy a digital camera, a majority (71 percent) continue to use their film camera as much or more than they have before they purchased their digital camera.
"Digital has not cannibalized film exposures," Sullivan said. As such, he noted that a kiosk solution must cater to both segments of the market and the Digital PIC concept does contain slots to read the various flash media formats.
"Right now, the digital business model at retail is unhealthy," said Sullivan. "Customers buy a digital camera, and you never see them again. The Digital PIC allows retailers to retain those customers and maximize profit from film customers who want to go digital."
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