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SiPix Eyes Untapped Digital Imaging Market

2/12/2001 02:00:00 AM Eastern

MILPITAS, CALIF. -The exploding digital imaging market got a little bigger with the launch of SiPix Inc., a new company focused on delivering digital imaging appliances to the consumer market.

The company, based here, officially opened its corporate headquarters on Jan. 30 and is announcing its first group of imaging products at the PMA International Convention and Trade Show in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 11-14 (see TWICE PMA coverage on p. 28).

"Today, digital imaging products provide overly complicated and expensive solutions in a market where users are looking for convenience, high quality and affordability," said sales and marketing VP Tenny Sin. "SiPix is making the digital imaging world approachable, easy and fun for everyone. We're delivering products with cutting-edge technology and trend-setting designs at affordable prices that can be used and enjoyed by anyone, anytime, anywhere."

According to product marketing director Michael Weizer, despite the start-up moniker, the company actually has a few years under its belt. SiPix Inc. is part of the SiPix Group, which was founded a year ago as a merger between SiPix Imaging (a digital imaging research and development company) and NuCam (a digital camera OEM). From this marriage of R & D experience and extensive manufacturing infrastructure SiPix Inc. was born.

SiPix enters the market with dedicated plants for digital imaging appliances in Zhuhai and Shanghai, China, and an even larger new facility under construction, also in Zhuhai. According to Weizer, when the Zhuhai facility is completed, SiPix will have the capacity to manufacture about 1 million digital cameras per month. In the United States, China and Taiwan, SiPix has established five research and development laboratories.

"In a sense we're a start-up, but when you look at our capabilities and our history it's not what you would expect of a typical start-up," Weizer said. "Our biggest challenge is not really in the innovation of product or manufacturing, but in the branding. We're going up against companies like Kodak and Fuji that have had 100 years to build a brand."

Rather than attack the market with advertising, Weizer said, the SiPix strategy is twofold. The first aspect is "brand through innovation." SiPix is attempting to position its products in previously untapped or underdeveloped markets in the digital imaging universe. Weizer points to the Pocket Printer A6 as an example of this strategy.

The A6 is a mobile printer that can print from a Palm or other Palm-type PDAs or a notebook computer. It features wireless, infrared connectivity for those devices that can accommodate wireless information transfer, or a serial port for those that can't.

"We consider this a new product category," he said, "there's really nothing like it out there on the market. The other products we have planned in our road map will follow in this tradition and differentiate us" from the industry veterans.

Weizer added, "With our R & D and manufacturing abilities we can address unique segments of the market that are currently untapped" and not follow in the footsteps of other manufacturers.

The second aspect of the SiPix branding strategy is strategic partnerships. Currently, SiPix partners include software company MGI and Palm Inc.

"We're picking our partners very carefully to position ourselves in the industry," explained Weizer, who said that more product and partnership announcements are forthcoming.

SiPix has received strategic funding exceeding $100 million, led by Goldman Sachs. Other key investors include Baring Private Equity Partners, CitiCorp Capital, Worldview Technology Partners and Telligent Investment Management LLC.

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