PMA 2009 Is Underway

PMA 2009 Is Underway

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The 2009 PMA Show in Las Vegas opened its doors this week and although crowds appeared perhaps a bit lighter, the atmosphere was business as usual and, thankfully, new innovation trumped talk of the deepening recession the nation is locked in.

It didn’t take long for the first big announcement to make headlines as Noritsu announced they were purchasing Vienna,Va.-based Lucidiom. The final terms of the deal are expected to close by the end of the month.

Lucidiom has emerged in recent years as one of the leading makers self-service imaging kiosks and Noritsu has maintained a leadership position for years on the minillab and dry printing technology front, pioneering the one-hour minilab concept and product in the early 1980s. In tandem, the pair combine for a formidable force in the retail print market.

Noritsu said it plans to leave Lucidiom’s East coast operations and management team intact. Lucidiom has roughly 50 workers in all. Under the terms of the deal, it will also get Lucidiom’s British operations, which serve customers in Europe. As we reported here in Clique last year, Noritsu and Lucidiom recently debuted a packaged photo kiosk and printer combination for retailers that allows consumers to make enlargements, greeting cards, calendars, posters, signs, scrapbooks and other items from their uploaded digital photos.

Zoom Bloom
With regard to innovation, no category has seen more of it lately than the digital camera market. For a category that is expected to see unit sales level off in the next year or so, manufacturers continue to give consumers reason to buy as “the latest and greatest” continues to get more and more intriguing.

In the Superzoom or “Bridge Camera” category, that was said to be headed the way of the APS system a while back, we are seeing a flood of new models that actually began at CES with new announcements from Kodak and Olympus. Well, PMA has continued the momentum here in Vegas and a new player has entered this space – Pentax.

The Pentax entry is the X70, a 12MP, 24X optical zoom model that also features a 2.7-inch LCD and what Pentax refers to as “triple shake reduction” – mechanical shake reduction via CCD shift mechanism, Digital Shake reduction via high ISO and Movie Mode  shake reduction as well.

Samsung’s big announcement was centered on their new NX series cameras, dubbed “hybrids” that, “offer the performance and image quality of a DSLR and the portability and convenience of a compact point-and-shoot.” Panasonic’s new Lumix GH1 graced this “hybrid” category as well. While we’re anxious to see what these two models offer up, both companies also fanned the Superzoom flame as Samsung showed the HZ15W, a 12MP model with a 10X optical zoom and Panasonic’s FZ28  still packs a punch at  10MP with an 18X zoom. The newer ZS3 checks in with a 12X zoom.

These models join the aforementioned Kodak Z980, released at CES (24X), and Olympus SP-590 also a CES intro (26X), Fuji’s FinePix S1500 (12X) that is also making it’s debut at this PMA, Canon’s new PowerShot SX1 IS, a 10MP, 20X wide-angle optical zoom, Nikon’s Coolpix L100 (15X), released just prior to PMA and Sony’s 2008 release of the H50 (15X). Oh yeah, GE is in this game too as they intro’d the 12X optical zoom X3. Not too shabby for a category tagged with an obit not so long ago.

Retail Print Wars
News on the retail print front was hot as new backend print systems and front-end kiosks were offering up faster, easier and more creative means for allowing consumers to tell their life stories. It’s no longer simply about memory sharing as the retail print market is now about self-expression and creative indulgence…and hopefully soaring profits.

From HP comes the continued extension of their “personal publishing” initiative as the company stated, “We want to unlock new revenue streams and further capitalize on the $65 billion market opportunity for retailers.”

The new products, services and tools from HP offer, “existing and new customer segments – from local community groups to sports enthusiasts – affordable and meaningful printing at home, online, at retail and through print service providers.” Announcements from the show floor included:

• Four new additions to HP’s consumer inkjet printer portfolio – designed to collectively meet the needs of every consumer with prices ranging from $49 to $299.(2) The new lineup includes the intuitive HP Photosmart Premium Fax All-in-One, which features enhanced wireless connectivity options and superb print quality.

HP Image Store – a one-of-a-kind online marketplace for fans and enthusiasts to access, customize and order printed merchandise from popular kids, sports, music and photo-image brands. With the site, HP plans to capture a share of the $30 billion printable licensed merchandise market.

PTADigital.com – a community print portal launched in conjunction with National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) that allows students, parents and faculty to easily and cost-effectively create and print customized school and home-based merchandise for in-store pickup and mail delivery through PSPs.

HP Photo Center 4.0 – the newest version of HP’s award-winning, in-store Photo Center solution is designed to expand retailers’ businesses with high-margin, high-value photo products for consumers and customized marketing collateral for small businesses.

Noritsu continues to produce printing solutions that answer the call of retailers looking to offer their customers higher quality prints and photo gifts through equipment that can produce it faster, cheaper and use limited floor space. While the D701 did that and then some, the new D502 adds duplex printing to the equation. This is yet another compact model in  the company’s stable that that now offers retail the ability to produce custom calendars, photobooks greeting cards and the like with high speed duplex printing.

The aforementioned deal with Lucidiom positions both companies nicely within a very competitive retail print marketplace.

Fujifilm is showcasing two new the Frontier Dry Minilabs – the  DL42SD and DL430 at PMA 2009. The Frontier DL42SD inkjet minilab provides retail and commercial labs with easy operation and the capability to produce high quality double-sided borderless prints ideal for custom photo books.  With an automatic double-sided print unit and sheet paper cartridge, the Frontier DL42SD will be another way Fujifilm continues to expand Frontier solutions.

The unit is powered by Fujifilm’s Frontier Workflow Management Software “MS” with Image Intelligence™ advanced image processing, and can be integrated into Fujifilm’s Expanding Frontier Solutions.  For over 75 years, Fujifilm has been at the forefront of developing and improving image quality through Fujifilm’s proprietary Image Intelligence™ Technology. This technology optimizes images to ensure the consistently high quality print that characterizes Fujifilm’s photofinishing solutions.

The other new Frontier, the  DL430, includes the choice of an 8-order sorter or a 7-order sorter for large prints; 650 4”X6” prints per hour and 250 8”X10” prints per hour; and two-line backprinting capability.

Sony is showcase their latest SnapLab digital photo printer, the UPC-R20L, that now includes remote monitoring and management software, a wireless print release option, improved scalability, a pattern lamination feature and easy-to-use deployment software. The upgrades were added to the digital photo print system in order to provide, as Sony explains, “end-users with new ways meet consumer demand for instant digital photo prints.”

Retailers that plan to deploy multiple systems can now use Sony’s optional Remote Monitoring and Management System (RM&M) software to monitor and manage the performance of those systems. The RM&M software is a powerful PC-based tool that allows users, such as nationwide retailers, to remotely track sales and make adjustments based on the analytics they collect. Using the software, users can change pricing, run promotions on the units LCD screen, and even be alerted by the system as to when media replacement is needed – all of which can all be done remotely.

Kodak’s APEX system celebrated its first birthday at PMA, complete with a cake and party hats and the company announced that the system has indeed grown up a bit. APEX has been enhanced with new features, cabinetry and hardware options that, as Kodak explains, “deliver even more efficiency and profit opportunities.”

Kodak is launching new thermal printer options which will be available this summer – the model 7010 with backprinting for additional order management and consumer messaging, as well as the model 7015 which combines backprinting with premium borderless 5×7 printing. Both printers enable the retailer to select gloss and one of two different satin finish options from a single media SKU, simplifying retailer inventory management while providing consumers more choice.  APEX also features a new three-printer 30” cabinet, which enables up to 900 4×6 prints per hour and 8×10 printing capability in a small footprint, and a new 70” configuration for up to 1800 prints per hour.

For KIS Photo-Me Group the focus was clearly on the DIFM (Do It For Me) customers as they launched their new Photobook kiosks. The free-standing kiosks combine new software that allows users to produce complete photobooks with a just a few clicks in about 6 minutes. The software automatically arranges pictures into an aesthetic layout based on archival details and photo orientation. Stain resistant and scratch proof paper ensure KIS Photobooks are print and bound to last. Up to 30 pages and 90 photos can be included in each KIS Photobook. Yet another relatively inexpensive option for retailers in the red hot photobook market.

Based on the philosophy that you can’t have great output without great paper, Mitsubishi Imaging has rolled out some new media at PMA – from smooth and glossy to textured and woven, the new Mitsubishi inkjet photo media took center stage at their booth. Among the inkjet papers on display are three new papers, Mitsubishi Grace Inkjet Drylab Paper and NFF130 and NFE130 Microporous Inkjet medias. Joining these papers are three recently introduced Pictorico photo papers as well – Pictorico ART Cotton; Pictorico ART Kenaf and ART Kenaf Unryu and PRO Photo Canvas.

License to Stream
In the area of freely moving content over the Web, ImageSpan has  introduced LicenseStream Creator 2.0, that includes what ImageSpan refers to as, “a radical innovation.” The software ties search results to direct payment/licensing, removing the friction and shortening the throw, so to speak, between search-discover and payment (or licensing) of any type of digital content (including videos, images, etc.)

“The ability to publish content directly to search engines enables a lot of content creators or owners who don’t have the luxury of a huge brand-name portal to get their content out on the Web in a way that protects it and raises their visibility substantially,” the company explains.

Digi Frame Game
The digital frame is another product category that simply hasn’t quit on the innovation front. From Pandigital comes the industry’s thinnest model, the PanTouch Clear, a 10.4-inch model that checks in at 1/3-inch thick. The company has expanded their entire line and now also includes what they are calling a “Kitchen Technology Center” – a combination HDTV, digital photo frame, Internet device and digital cookbook. A “mess-proof” screen that is sealed in glass makes this model safe in the always unpredictable kitchen environment.

For a completely new twist, how about a digital frame that can animate specific portions of an image for what the company behind it calls “Moving Memories”? FaceCake, a Calabasa, Ca.,-based software company has entered the digital frame market with a model that allows the users to animate certain aspects of a still picture (an ocean in the background, hair blowing in the wind, falling snow) to give the still picture a bit of life. For now, the trick are done by uploading the software to the computer but future versions will allow the consumer to perform the tricks right on the frame.

We’ll have more from PMA 2009 in the coming weeks in both Digital Clique and Picture Business.

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