By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
TWICE: Is the consumer happy with the camera they're getting now? Is there still room for improvement?
Westfall: I think we've been dancing around the idea that archiving is really one of the most important things. Although the technology currently exists and is fairly easy for somebody to manually upload images to some kind of a storage service on the Web, I think that the potential is there — and people have alluded to the idea — that if there's a way to automate that, in terms of technology that maybe even as you snap a picture that it's stored somewhere in cyberspace and indexed automatically on various different things like metadata in the file. There's a tremendous opportunity there for growth in this industry.
Zakrzewski: The format is also very important. Picture archiving and sharing standards have to be put in place so that that capability can be there. It's a standard that, no matter where you go, you can take that picture and it moves to that other medium. That standard has to exist. Again, multiple platforms, multiple standards, is going to cause problem: You're compatible in one place but not in another. So I think it's incredibly important to get some standardization so that can move forward.
Scott: I read yesterday that AT&T was announcing a test of WiMax technology. That just alludes to what's coming. WiMax will allow you to take an EasyShare One and take a picture and wirelessly transmit it and have them organized immediately for you. I mean, that's the kind of stuff that's going to come because of technology. And I think anyone that's not paying attention to that is missing a huge opportunity.
Desmond: One of the things that's been brought up is that people want to enjoy their photos without having to wait. They want instant gratification. There's going to be a mandate soon that's going to dictate that all over-air broadcasting is going to move to the digital domain. And that's going to make a huge opportunity for digital television sales. And then there's going to be a display device mounted in all consumers' homes that can be used to share photos. So being able to draw the dotted line to that solution, I think, is a huge opportunity.
Giordano: I think you'll see a lot more in-camera software. Things that are invisible or transparent to the end user. They want this — it's a Kodak phrase: Push the button and we do the rest. Well, literally, this camera technology will do the rest. The cameras already can find and focus on a face, fix red eye and automatically brighten pictures.
We're just at the very beginning of this and the possibilities are really exciting and unbelievable. I mentioned before, my son Christopher, who is six years old. He was born the year we introduced the Coolpix 990 camera. So I look at him, and I see the growth of this industry. It's only six years old. We're talking about what's going to happen in 2007. There's going to be some exciting things happening in 2007.
Scott: I can't resist the opportunity to capitalize on “You push the button, we do the rest.” And there will be Kodak cameras in the future that deliver on that promise. You push the button. We do the rest.
I think wider angle, longer optical zooms, and compact bodies are going to evolve and get better. I think certainly wireless technology will take us to new places. I think we've delivered on size that's good enough for most consumers. And I really believe that there will be a continued self-selection of segments. Now there will be a lot of consumers that want that performance camera. There's going to be consumers that just want simplicity and ease of use. And I haven't mentioned the convergence of video.
TWICE: Could it potentially serve as a replacement for a camcorder?
Scott: I would believe that it has the potential to do that. Someone like Canon or Sony may disagree with that. But if you think about it, most people would love to be able to carry around a camcorder the size of a camera, right?
Adams: We were almost there before television technology got better. We were there at VGA quality video capture at 30 frames per second, before HD. Pretty much everybody at the table has got that technology in their camera. The quality of the TV has exceeded that now but I think we're certainly chasing it.
I think you're going to see a demand by the consumer for a unique product. Something that's waterproof, like our OptioWP product line, and certainly the larger LCD. I think optical zoom is going to become a factor, but keeping that optical zoom in a small, sexy package.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.