By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Kodak is looking to expand its consumer digital product lineup by moving into the inkjet photo printer market, while Panasonic is abandoning its line of dye-sublimation photo printers for the home market.
According to Monica Helmer, product manager, optical group, Panasonic's expertise lay elsewhere and the established printer companies are too entrenched in the market to be dislodged. Once dealers sell out of Panasonic's SV-P20 and SV-AP10 printers, the lines will be discontinued.
Panasonic will continue its partnership with Epson, offering rebates on Epson printers with Panasonic cameras, Helmer said.
Conversely, Kodak wants in on the home printer market as part of a broader corporate realignment in the face of its waning film business, a company spokesman said. The company plans to muscle in on turf currently dominated by Epson, Hewlett-Packard, Canon and Lexmark, among others, in the near future. Although the spokesman said Kodak wasn't ready to discuss product roadmaps, he said the company would "move quickly" thanks to its reservoir of executive know-how and intellectual property in the area.
Kodak already offers a photo printer in the form of the EasyShare printer dock 6000, which doubles as a way to move pictures from Kodak's cameras to PC desktops. The company wants to offer stand-alone inkjets in addition to the printer docks, the spokesman said.
Kodak recently brought aboard Bernard Masson, formerly an executive at Lexmark, to lead the company's charge into the home printer market, as well as to oversee the company's EasyShare line of digital cameras. Masson is the president of the Digital & Film Imaging Systems unit.
According to the spokesman, Kodak is also looking to offer "more sophisticated" digital cameras next year, along the lines of the recently introduced DX6490 that sports 4-megapixel resolution and a 10x optical zoom lens, to compliment its largely entry-level offerings.
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