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Fiorina Discusses Digital Imaging, Compaq Deal

If there was any doubt where Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina sees the company going, it was erased during her keynote address during International CES, in which she spent 90 percent of her time discussing HP’s digital imaging plans.

The talk began with a 10-minute dissertation on the history of photography, digressed into how HP expects to see a significant increase in “casual” image capture from handheld devices like cellphones and PDAs, and ended with a commercial pitching the HP/Compaq merger. Fiorina said HP will leverage its expertise in printing, research and development, as well as services to deliver a complete start-to-finish solution.

“Our primary focus is to create a great end-to-end experience to anyone who uses a camera. Kodak, Sony, Canon, IBM or Dell can’t deliver the imaging services we can,” she told the packed house.

HP has moored its digital imaging strategy to its newly announced Instant Share system. Taking aim at Kodak EasyShare’s success with its Instant Share digital imaging rollout, which will initially include a camera and a camera dock.

The dock, which is expected to carry a street price of $79, connects via USB to PCs, or HP Photosmart or Deskjet printers with USB connectivity and doubles as a battery charger when connected.

The first camera with Instant Share technology and dock compatibility, the four-megapixel, 21x total zoom, HP Photosmart 812 digital camera, was also introduced. The Instant Share feature allows users to snap a photo and then select on their camera where the photo will go.

Fiorina also displayed a new multifunction product (MFP) that can print images without being connected to a PC and uses a new software technology dubbed Tiny Bubbles. The device prints out a contact sheet that has a small circle next to each image. The user then colors in the circle of the images he or she wants printed in full size. The contact sheet is then scanned into the MFP and the device prints out the desired images.

Fiorina, who has absorbed criticism over her plan to acquire Compaq, gave an impassioned plea to garner support for the merger, citing how the company founders Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett never wanted HP to stand still.

“HP cannot be a company frozen in time,” she said, adding that the founders were always willing to take a chance on new products despite outside skepticism.