By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
TWICE: How consumers use their images, and how manufacturers and retailers can profit from digital images, has changed, but it's still a print-based market. Are there other opportunities for turning a buck off these digital images?
Desmond: There is definitely another way of sharing photos. We look at DVD recorders as one method of storing and sharing photos. And with the absolute explosion of high-definition plasma television, there's an opportunity for viewing them there.
Adams: It's interesting how digital has changed the landscape of the finished product. It used to be, you'd take your pictures, you drop them off at the store, you pick up your pictures and then you might put them in a photo album. You probably stuck them in a shoebox.
Today you can put them on a Web site. You can blog them. You can e-mail them to people. You can create a DVD, as Bert said, and share them. We've made it real easy to share your images. I think digital has also created a lot of shooting fanatics. I remember getting rolls of film back, and you'd throw away the blurry ones, but I'm not so sure that people are even deleting all of these blurry pictures.
The landscape for output has changed significantly. It's more exciting for the consumer. It's more exciting for us as manufacturers because we do get to provide our consumers a lot more opportunities to share their photos.
Scott: We at Kodak absolutely believe there's huge opportunities still untapped, opportunities for monetizing digital images. I don't believe you can easily monetize storage. It's the combination of storage with easy-to-use archiving and easy-to-use retrieval. So that if I had a picture of my daughter that I took five years ago, being able to find that picture five years from now will be of value to me. And I think there are ways to monetize that.
We just announced the Picture Viewer pocket viewer, so you can carry that with you. It's not a capture device, but that's just another way of allowing people to share their memories. That's the important part — we've got to find ways to make it easy for people to share and relive their memories. And if you can do that and find their memories easily, people will pay for it.
Desmond: I think that we've all got a great opportunity in our industry via the SD card, which the majority of us are using. That's a very, very easy way for the consumer to transport all those memories into multiple devices.
TWICE: So the focus is outside of the computer then?
Desmond: The computer's there, so we're looking for new opportunities.
Westfall: The commonality is that you're looking at various forms of display technology. It really has been very much a print-dominated medium for decades if not more than a century. But gradually, with the advent of digital, we're shifting away from print-only and getting into various other things. That's one of the reasons why Canon is expanding into display technologies right now. We've made a lot of investments. We're on the cusp of introducing our SED flat-display panel.
TWICE: There's an industry awareness that more has to be done to ensure digital photographs last through new computers, hard disk crashes, etc., but are consumers aware?
Adams: I think it's filtered down to the consumer level. I don't know that we've heard too many horror stories of individuals' hard drives crashing and losing 10 years of memories. I think it's definitely in the minds of the consumer, but I don't know that anybody's come up with the one catch-all solution.
I mean, quite frankly, with the shoebox I can still go back and find my film. I can find my negatives. I think data migration's going to become an issue. People who have images on a 3.5-inch floppy are going to find a tower in their household that doesn't have a slot for it any longer. And as we move forward, who knows? DVDs may become obsolete 10 years from now. I think that that catch-all is going to be the real winner.
I don't know that the consumer is necessarily going to want to pay to store their images. It's going to have to be somebody with the ability to back it all up and keep it and make it easily accessible from anywhere, from any point and any place. You almost need to be the Google of images. Google almost has to take it on and keep everyone's images in its platform. There's no connection to any specific platform and it's accessible from anywhere, anytime.
Scott: That is exactly what we believe. And the reality is, people don't want to pay just for storage. In fact, most people would say, “What, I've got my print.” Now that printing is becoming so ubiquitous, that becomes the archival method for a lot of people, right? They can just take that print and put it in the shoebox.
The benefit of digital, however, is in giving them access to much more information to be able to find that picture sometime in the future and do more with it, like make photo books. But the golden nugget here is in allowing a consumer to be able to easily find that picture and perhaps even do it wirelessly, so that no matter where they are, if I'm visiting my mother in Tennessee, I can somehow and go find my pictures that are stored someplace and share them with her without going back to my PC to do that. There is a tremendous untapped opportunity right in that.
Now, there's a huge consumer awareness and education component, because most people will revert back to that which they know best, which is a print, or perhaps storing that memory on a media card. Today, I don't believe there have been a lot of people that have experienced the negatives of the PC crashing or losing all their memories, but those stories will filter up as it happens more and more.
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.