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sony's new picture maker for chains
Remember when pharmacies first began offering overnight photofinishing services? Then they introduced one-hour photo processing. Now, digital photofinishing systems are cropping up in pharmacy chains and other retail outlets.
The newest player jumping on the digital photofinishing bandwagon is electronics giant Sony Electronics, with its Sony Digital Photo System. The photofinishing system, which is being test-marketed in a pilot program, will compete with Kodak, whose Picture Maker kiosks are already churning out prints for consumers in drugstore chains and mass-merchandisers nationwide.
Dave Johnson, marketing manager, digital photography, broadcast & professional company, at Sony Electronics, Park Ridge, N.J., told Drug Topics, "Digital cameras are driving a lot of services. Fourteen percent of all households have digital cameras, and 20% of households will have them by the end of the year. One option is for consumers to print at home. We believe, however, that customers still want to go to a drugstore. We will make it very attractive for retailers or independents to get into the digital photofinishing world." While Johnson would not disclose which markets or which drugstore chains are testing Sonys system, he indicated that a national rollout is slated for the first quarter of 2002.
The system, which includes an ordering terminal (monitor) and a printer, will be priced under $10,000. The monitors dimensions are 12 in. X 14 in; the printer measures 10 in. X 18 in. Both components will fit into a single cabinet. "Our vision is that where you have an ATM, youll find our photofinishing kiosk," Johnson said.
Johnson alluded to the unique scalability of Sonys system. "We offer the ability for the smaller retail outfit to get into digital. The smaller independent drugstore may want to get in on the ground level with a printer and then upgrade to a scanner."
The system also allows retailers who like to provide personal service to continue to do so, he said. The terminal can be placed at the counter for customers to use, and the printer can be situated behind the counter so store personnel can present the finished photos to customers. Larger stores that dont want to tie up their staffers can set up the system like a vending machine so customers can perform the entire process themselves.
Sonys digital photofinishing systems accept images recorded on standard removable media, including Sony Memory Sticks, Smart Media, Compact Flash Cards, CD-ROMs, and floppy discs. Consumers can choose which images they wish to print; correct for defects such as red eye, and specify exact photo sizefrom wallet to 8 X 10. Photo borders will be made available.
A branding campaign, with the phrase "Print by Sony," will support the introduction of the system and will include an advertising and direct marketing campaign. The "Print by Sony" logo will appear on digital photo printers, the digital photofinishing kiosks, and other related hardware, as well as on the back of Sony prints.
Sandra Levy. Sony takes its digital photofinishing system on the road.