Kodak to launch new software and printers by the end of year


Las Vegas, Eastman Kodak Co., seeking to bolster profit and keep competitors from encroaching on a market it dominates, will offer new software and printers to retailers that aimed at helping retailers tap growing consumer demand to do more with their digital pictures.

At the Photo Marketing Association's (PMA)Annual Conference and Exposition, Kodak unveiled a lineup of custom photo books, collages and digital photo merchandising products and services that can be produced in-store, on-line and at wholesale.

The new kiosks and related products should be available at retailers by year's end, said Brad Kruchten, general manager of Kodak's retail printing business.

Offering the products now is critical if Kodak is to keep from losing ground to Hewlett-Packard Co. and Xerox Corp., which have both introduced in-store equipment capable of producing items such as books and calendars, said Ron Glaz of researcher IDC Corp. Chief Executive Officer Antonio Perez has been counting on kiosks as a way to boost revenue from digital printing as film sales plunge.

"Each day some 315 million digital images are taken and stored, but not printed, creating a tremendous opportunity for retailers to help consumers do more with their digital images," said Greg Morrison, digital product marketing manager, Kodak Canada Inc. "If the industry is to unlock this potential treasure chest of images, we must work together to offer consumers a variety of easy-to-use products and services that are readily available from multiple

"while offering consumers the ability to do more with their pictures than capture and print 4×6-inch photos and enlargements," says Morrison. "These products and services will enable consumers to move beyond capturing and sharing moments to creating and sharing stories."

Kodak's latest products include new kiosks, more efficient software, digital cameras with image-stabilization features and a new high-speed commercial color printer. The enhancements will allow consumers to design photo books, calendars, collages and greeting cards and print them at retailers in an hour.

Glaz, program director at Framingham,said," Kodak controls about half the U.S. market of more than 97,000 photo kiosks, which will grow to 157,000 by 2010, Profit margins on self-serve photo albums are high, as they sell for about $30."

Shares of Rochester, New York-based Kodak fell 6 cents to $23.36 at 11:08 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. They had declined 16 percent in the past year before today.

Kodak said in September it had installed kiosks in all of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s more than 4,000 U.S. stores. The kiosks accept electronic media such as memory cards as well as photo CD's, prints and wireless systems from phones. Kodak has about 85,000 kiosks installed worldwide, it said in its 2006 annual report.

At the Las Vegas show, Kodak also will unveil a scanner that digitizes 30 hard copy photos a minute, allowing retailers to store the images on picture CDs, movie DVDs or upload them to Kodak's online gallery. The device, which will be available in June, will be priced under $3,000.