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Assn. Bows Move To Spur Printing Of Digital Images

To print or not to print has been the question confronting consumers and haunting vendors and retailers as the digital camera market races toward mass adoption. So far, consumers have been answering in the negative, prompting the International Imaging Industry Association (I3A) to seek an industry-wide remedy in the form of the Common Picture eXchange Initiative (CPXe).

CPXe seeks to create interoperability standards and open network architecture to drive more consumer photo printing toward retail outlets. The goal, says Lisa Walker, co-executive director of I3A, is to enable the “seamless exchange of image data and information” across all platforms (digital cameras, minilabs, desktop software, kiosks, Internet sites, etc.) at home and at retail.

The initiative involves a number of industry companies including Olympus, Kodak, Fujifilm, Hewlett-Packard, Agfa, Canon andFotowire, among others.

“People aren’t printing in part because they don’t understand how it works, it’s too difficult and there are too many steps,” Walker said. “This is an industry-wide problem and it requires an industry-wide solution.”

The centerpiece, said Walker, will be a directory of retailers along with a comprehensive list of the products and services they offer and an online dealer locator. Participating manufacturer will be able to incorporate elements of this database (or the database in its entirety) in the products and services they offer.

For instance, a camera manufacturer can incorporate a dealer locator on the software it bundles with its digital camera. This software would use the database to direct customers to a photofinishing Web site or a retailer in their geographic area that offers a specific service. The directory will be very specific, Walker said, allowing customers to search retailers by services offered, price, proximity, etc.

The first consumer products to incorporate CPXe standards will probably ship in 2003, said Walker.