August 30, 2005

Walgreens switching back to Kodak digital photo kiosks

Eastman Kodak Co. is retaking the photo kiosk business at Walgreens drug stores from Fuji Photo Film Co., making Kodak the choice of the three biggest U.S. retailers of prints.

Walgreen Co., the top U.S. drugstore chain, has installed Kodak kiosks at a quarter of its 4,859 stores, Walgreens spokesman Michael Polzin said. He declined to say why the company made the change and when it would be completed.

Kiosks, where customers can make reprints from digital cameras, are part of Chief Executive Antonio Perez's shift to digital products and services as film sales fall. Walgreens in January 2004 replaced its Kodak equipment, mostly with Fuji Photo products.

"I had a lot of complaints" from customers about the quality of the Fuji prints, said Joe Martinez, who runs a Walgreens in San Francisco. "We had a lot of refused reprints. We'd do them over and they still wouldn't be right. We were losing money. It was a corporate decision."

David Lanzillo, a spokesman for Rochester-based Kodak, and Adam Yates of Fujifilm USA declined to comment on the kiosk swap, citing the confidentiality of customer relationships.

In-store digital printing is the fastest growing part of the consumer market and will expand 37 percent this year, said Ron Glaz of IDC, a market data company in Framingham, Mass. By 2008 it will account for more than half of an estimated 105.6 billion images, surpassing home printing, he said.

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Posted by keefner at August 30, 2005 05:00 PM