HP embarks on retail photo printing / Custom products can be created at store kiosks

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More and more families are turning to their local pharmacies or supermarkets, instead of using their home printers, to make copies of digital photos.

And Hewlett-Packard, the world’s largest printer maker, hopes to capitalize on this market.

Today, tech giant Palo Alto is introducing digital printing kiosks where people can print photos in minutes, whether at the supermarket, mall, or a campus food court. university.

The move underscores HP’s aggressive drive to dominate the growing digital photo printing market. More than 17 billion digital photos were printed last year, and that number is expected to jump 32% to 22.5 billion this year, according to International Data Corp.


The majority of digital photos – around 70% last year – are still printed from home printers, but more and more people are turning to retail stores.

“People want to print in different ways,” said Larry Lesley, HP’s senior vice president for digital photography and entertainment. “The big opportunity is in the retail business.”

Retail stores accounted for about 22% of digital impressions last year, and that figure is expected to rise to 25% this year, according to

IDC.

HP continues this opportunity with two new commercial products. One is the HP Photosmart Express Station, a stand-alone machine that can automatically make a 4-by-6-inch print in five seconds.

The other is the HP Photosmart Studio, which allows customers to use their digital photos to create albums, calendars, cards, posters, and other products.

Longs Drugs will set up the Photosmart Studio kiosk in 100 stores in California between April and June, HP said. Other retailers are expected to follow.

Kiosks are designed for digital camera owners transitioning from home printing to in-store printing.

Jennifer Kuyat, a mother from Danville who owns an HP inkjet printer, is increasingly frustrated with the high cost of cartridges. “It’s more of a pain and a lot of money,” she said.

She visited a Longs store in Walnut Creek one recent morning to make prints of her daughter’s birthday party so she could include them in thank you cards. The store was one of two test sites for the HP Photosmart studio, which allowed it to manufacture the cards for $ 1.95 per print.

He even allowed her to edit her photos to create personalized cards for each of her daughter’s friends.

“It’s personalized, and it’s not going to cost more,” she said. “I like it. I’m really happy.”

Eileen Glantz, manager of the Longs store, said the HP kiosk was a hit with customers, adding that the test exceeded the company’s expectations. She refused to elaborate.

“We are extremely happy with the way customers have adopted the system,” she said. “People are amazed how fast it is, how easy it is, how fun it is.”

IDC analyst Angele Boyd said HP is “clearly expanding its portfolio to capture consumer digital photos in every way possible,” also noting HP’s recent purchase of Snapfish, the online photo finishing service.

“They are definitely the leaders in home printers, Snapfish is doing really well and so the kiosk is a sauce or better,” Boyd said in an email.

Another IDC analyst, Ron Glaz, said when it comes to in-store photo finishing devices, some retailers may be more familiar with HP competitors such as Kodak and Fuji.

Kodak has approximately 75,000 kiosks worldwide, more than half of which are in the United States, said Nicki Zongrone, vice president of the company’s digital consumer group. Kodak introduces new versions of its kiosk photo printing technology based on its Picture Kiosk G4 software.

“We have been partners with retailers for many years,” she said. “We have built that trust and are listening carefully to retailers and their needs.”

But Lesley, senior vice president of HP, said he sees much more room for growth in the digital photo finishing market.

According to HP forecasts, consumers stored and shared 140 billion digital images last year, but only printed 33 billion.

“We think there is a way to encourage them to print more, and that will widen the cake to a larger opportunity,” Lesley said.


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