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DigiCams Take PMA Spotlight

Las Vegas – After a two-year stint in Orlando, Fla., the Photo Marketing Association’s (PMA) international trade show and convention will return to Las Vegas for its 79th annual convention on March 2-5.

The doors of the Las Vegas Convention Center will open on an industry buoyed by another year of strong sales of digital cameras. According to the research firm IDC, Framingham, Mass., 10 million units shipped in 2002.

An estimated 750 exhibitors are expected to descend on Vegas, encompassing every facet of the industry. Alongside such photo industry regulars as Canon, Kodak, Minolta, Nikon and Fujifilm will be consumer electronic heavyweights Sony, Panasonic, and Toshiba. Both exhibitors and attendees are on pace to exceed last year’s numbers, according to Gary Pageau, PMA’s executive in charge of market research.

With household digital camera penetration at an estimated twenty percent, manufacturers are paying increasing attention to improving ease of use and driving printing, the lifeblood for many photo-retailers, Pageau, said.

Much like last year’s show, this year will see a great emphasis on digital printing solutions at retail, particularly in the form of kiosks, which accept digital camera media and make prints on the spot.

‘There will be a big emphasis on consumer marketing, getting the word out about these services,’ Pageau said. ‘The industry is at the plate and ready to swing.’

The shaky economy is unlikely to deter retail investment in digital printing, Pageau said.

‘Unlike film processing, which required a fairly extensive capital outlay, there are various entry points into digital print fulfillment,’ from a standalone consumer operated kiosk to a full-blown digital minilab, Pageau said.

‘Besides, digital is inevitable. Sooner or later you’ll have to embrace it.’

Digital camera introductions are expected to focus less on upping the megapixel ante, in favor of getting more bang for the buck (see ‘Steady Prices’ pg. 38). Size will also continue to figure prominently in camera design, with vendors such as Nikon bringing to market highly portable yet full featured cameras.

Indeed, the digital photography revolution has only just begun and already the industry has broadened beyond the traditional players and products. Digital cameras are being integrated in increasing number in cell phones and PDAs, and the show will find executives from Sprint, LightSurf, Apple, and Microsoft at panel discussions and technology suites exploring the many novel paths for digital imaging to travel.

‘There has really been a broad embrace of digital photography,’ and it is increasingly evident at the show, Pageau said.