June 29, 2005

Photo Kiosks Go Mainstream

With 75,000 photo kiosks installed and 121,000 estimated by 2008, photo kiosks are "hot" to say the least. The traditional outlets for consumers to get prints from their film cameras, such as drugstores and big box outlets like Wal-mart, are buying multiple units for their stores.

One store listed usage as 200,000 prints for four kiosks in one year.


Source: KioskCom.com Website

Photo Kiosks Go Mainstream

By Rick Redding

When photo kiosks were a novelty, just a few years ago, the fact that Kodak claimed a vast majority of the machines in operation was no big deal, as it had few competitors. But in her recent photo kiosk report, Summit Researchs Francie Mendelsohn reviewed kiosks from 22 manufacturers, all competing for a rapidly growing market representing all levels of photographic expertise.

InfoTrends/CAP Ventures estimates there are more than 75,000 photo kiosks in the United States, and predicts more than 121,000 by 2008. The traditional outlets for consumers to get prints from their film cameras, such as drugstores and big box outlets like Wal-mart, are buying multiple units for their stores.

It hasnt taken long for the consumer, and competitors, to catch on. In 2005, photo kiosks are number one on the growth chart among kiosk types, and retail targets include all sorts of retailers, including hotels, bookstores, rental car agencies, and vacation destinations that they say are ideal locations for new digital photo kiosks.

In June, the New York Times featured the phenomenon, a sure sign that mainstream America has figured out that trips to the photo kiosk at Wal-mart have replaced the film dropoff as the preferred method for consumers to obtain prints from their cameras and cell phones for that matter.

Its a natural result of a massive shift in America akin to the move in music to CDs, or to technology like satellite radio. This year, 80 percent of cameras sold will be digital models, and consumers seem to be less interested in printing their photos at home when they can visit photos that are as easy to find as an ATM.

Another factor related to digital camera is that many individuals are happy to keep their photos on hard disks on their home computers, or even in their cameras. Hewlett-Packard estimates that 80 percent of digital photos are never printed.

Despite efforts by printer manufacturers to market the ease of printing at home, experts say that as a mass market product, consumers prefer ease and convenience of the local store over learning the technology, buying the supplies and software and learning to print photos at home.

In fact, theres a price war brewing among retailers. The New York Times report found Wal-mart selling 4 x 6y prints for 19 cents, Costco at 17 cents and a Sams Club for 14 cents. The Summit report estimates that printing at home can cost up to $1 per print, though Hewlett-Packard claims the cost of ink and photo paper is as low as 24 cents per print.

Another option for individuals is to use one of a number of online photo sites, such as Snapfish or Shutterfly, which turn around prints in a day or two and charge as little as 10 cents.

But all the trends still point to the rising popularity of photo kiosks for printing photos in America. The InfoTrends report said the percentage of those printing at retailers rose by 14 percent in 2003 and 37 percent in 2004.


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Posted by keefner at June 29, 2005 02:33 PM