Yenra : Photography : Digital Photo Services : Common Picture eXchange Environment initiative will make it easier for consumers to get their digital photos printed

Digital Photo

Digital camera shipments in the United States are on track to reach 8.3 million units in 2002, a 30 percent increase from 2001 shipments of 6.4 million units, according to Dataquest Inc., a unit of Gartner, Inc.

Gartner Dataquest analysts said lower prices and improved photo printing alternatives could mean even larger growth when the holiday shopping season arrives.

"Camera companies are jockeying for position now for a strong push in the fourth quarter, when nearly half of all digital cameras are typically purchased," said Andrew Johnson, vice president for Gartner Dataquest's Digital Document and Imaging group. "Even with the rapid growth in sales, there is still a lot of room to grow."

Gartner Dataquest calculates U.S. household penetration of digital cameras will be 17 percent by the end of 2002. By 2006, more than 50 percent of U.S. households should have a digital camera.

Digital cameras are transitioning the amateur photography industry by changing how consumers take, share and save photos, and camera manufacturers will need to transform their business model to compete in this market.

"There is a lot of focus on printing photos right now in an attempt to make the digital photography experience more like traditional film photography," Johnson said. "While making photo printing easier will certainly help broaden the appeal for digital photography in the United States, the long absence of good digital photo printing options has forced digital camera owners to learn to love the electronic photo - viewed on the PC/TV screen and e-mailed to friends."

The International Imaging Industry Association's (I3A's) Common Picture eXchange Environment (CPXe) initiative is a network architecture and directory of services, which, if successfully adopted in 2003, will make it easier for consumers to get their digital photos printed. The CPXe initiative promises to drive money back into the industry by generating awareness and giving local access to the different types of photo services, many far beyond the familiar 4x6-inch print.

For example, people will go on the Web to access a directory of local retailers that provide different types of photo services such as bound photo albums or posters. This may result in an online transaction, with an in-store pickup, or consumers could just use the directory to locate the nearest retail store that provides a certain photo service.

While this service will entice some consumers, Johnson warned, "It will be tough to compete against the 'free' part of electronic photo sharing via e-mail that is so popular right now."

More information is available in the Gartner Dataquest report "U.S. Digital Still Camera Market Share and Forecast, 2002." This report provides market share and forecasts for digital camera shipments in the United States, excluding toy, professional and PC-tethered cameras. This report can be purchased on Gartner's Web site.

Gartner Dataquest is the recognized leader in providing the high-technology and financial communities with market intelligence for the semiconductor, computer systems and peripherals, communications, document management, software and services sectors of the global information technology industry.