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Zink-Enabled Camera Due In 2008

Waltham, Mass. — Zink’s “inkless” print engine won’t be on the market until early 2008, the company reported, as its partners are still testing the technology.

The company previously displayed a mock-up of a possible camera on its Web site earlier and hinted at a 2007 release, but according to chief marketing office Scott Wicker, the firm’s development partners are still in beta testing and digital cameras won’t be available for sale until “very early in 2008.”

No specifications have been finalized other than the incorporation of a 2-inch by 3-inch Zink printer, Wicker added.

The company won’t disclose which brands will incorporate Zink’s print engine other than to indicate that there will be multiple partners and they’ll be “brands you’ll recognize,” Wicker said. Zink will supply the technology and paper which their partners will resell under their own brands. The paper will likely cost $1.99 for a 10-pack, though final pricing will be left to the brand partners, Wicker said.

In addition to a digital camera, there will be a portable 2- by 3-inch printer for use with mobile phones, also due out from partners in 2008, Wicker said.

The Zink technology eliminates the use of ink and ink cartridges in printing through a dye-based paper which releases colors when heated. It was developed by scientists working at Polaroid who later left the company with their technology to form the nucleus of Zink, Wicker said. The firm has since bought manufacturing assets from Konica Minolta, another defunct imaging giant.

A 2- by 3-inch Zink printer can produce its first print in 30 seconds but the technology is capable of being scaled to any size. That is one of its advantages, Wicker said. “You’ll see Zink-enabled printers in all sizes and shapes,” he added.

As for why consumers would wish to buy an integrated camera/printer when previous efforts (from Polaroid and Olympus, among others) were not runaway successes, Wicker said the market and technology had matured considerably since then. “This is a very different value proposition, the printer is smaller, the price-per-print is lower and the market has changed,” he said.