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Future Shop Tests Phogenix System

Best Buy subsidiary and Canada’s largest CE chain, Future Shop, has begun an in-store test of the Phogenix DFX system to print photos from digital cameras.

The test, which will run through the summer, is the first consumer electronics retail market test for Phogenix (the joint venture between Hewlett-Packard and Kodak) and the first-time Future Shop will offer digital print fulfillment in store.

The chain’s American parent, Best Buy, has already tested various digital printing systems in the past and is paying close attention to how its Canadian subsidiary will integrate the Phogenix system in its stores and how its customers will respond to the service, said Heather MacKenzie, senior manager, Future Photo.

The Calgary Future Shop store will receive one DFX inkjet minilab with a co-branded HP/Future Shop consumer terminal kiosk. The terminal serves as a customer interface, allowing them to upload their digital images from their flash memory cards for printing. The terminal links back to Phogenix’s proprietary inkjet minilab to produce the prints.

Future Shop will also link its customers remotely to the system via the Internet through a print wizard software it distributes with its digital camera sales or through its web-site

According to MacKenzie, the CE chain had invested in traditional, silver halide film developing only two years ago, when it decided to phase in digital services.

“We sell 30 percent of all the digital cameras in Canada and felt it was a good fit,” MacKenzie said. “We liked that the Phogenix system integrated well with our online system.”

“We’ve been stressing our ability to customize the system for solutions retailers are looking for,” said Greg Hampton, photo finishing marketing manager, HP.

Under the terms of the joint venture, HP is charged with selling the DFX system into CE and office superstore channels, while Kodak reps sell the system to food, drug, mass merchants and photo specialty retailers. Kodak had already lined up a number of specialty dealers to experiment with the system, but the Future Shop test will be the first in a CE store and the first conducted by HP.

Future Shop’s digital photo finishing ambitions extend, in one form or another, to each of its over 100 Canadian locations.

The Phogenix test will see if there is a demand for making prints from digital sources, as well as producing non-traditional orders for consumers, MacKenzie said.

This high margin realm of print services is a business model that HP’s Hampton predicts CE retailers will increasingly gravitate to.

The Phogenix DFX system consists of a thermal inkjet printer/finish station, system data manager (which accepts flash media), order label printer and Kodak’s DLS System Management Software, Version LD. It has a started price of $39,900. Phogenix also sells a full-roll film scanner for film developing, with an upgrade to Kodak’s DLS software Version LP, for an additional $10,000.