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Concurrent with the growing penetration of digital cameras into U.S. households has been an upsurge in usage of online photo services, which house and make prints of consumers' digital images, according to a recent study produced by the market research firm InfoTrends.
According to the Boston-based firm, 19 percent of U.S. Internet households have used an online photo service, and there is evidence that many non-users are interested in trying one. Usage of online photo services is increasing rapidly, InfoTrends noted, as the average number of photos posted per month nearly doubled to 24 photos and the average number of prints ordered online per month increased by more than 30 percent over last year.
"The ability to create personalized online photo albums and easily share numerous photos with several people at one time is the most compelling reason that consumers choose to use an online photo service," the report claimed.
"While this photo sharing benefit initially attracts new members, online photo service providers need to convert more of these members into paying customers," said Jill Aldort, InfoTrends research analyst.
"In 2002, some online photo service providers were able to increase print revenues and achieve profitability. All providers need to continue to develop strategies that increase print revenues to outpace the cost of hosting, and consider new ways to profit from photo sharing," Aldort noted.
A number of brick-and-mortar retailers have incorporated digital photo services into their online offerings, including Best Buy, which has an ongoing partnership with the online service Shutterfly, to provide prints and image housing to its digital camera customers.
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