The most recent Photoimaging Manufacturers and Distributors Association (PMDA) meeting hosted speakers Don Franz of Photo Imaging News and Ulysses Yannas, analyst at Buckman, Buckman,& Reid, for a discussion aimed at examining where the profit will be in the imaging industry over the next several years. Here’s a brief look at some of their predictions.
• According to Franz, camera phones will continue to lead sales in image capture devices for some time. In Asia and Europe (typically 36 and 18 months, respectively, ahead of the U.S. in mobile phone technology), there is a steep rise in the number of young people whose primary, and sometimes only, image capture device is their mobile phone. Yannas notes that U.S. consumers are only just now being offered camera phones whose quality and ease of use of make them a useful device for generating prints.
• Although U.S. sales of traditional camera film are in decline, Yannas predicts that prints will continue to be the main source of profit in the photo industry. Photo kiosks in retail stores, rather than home-printing devices, will emerge as the primary source of printed photos. As the convenience of photo kiosks and the quality of images from camera phones increase, so too will the number of printed photos.
• Franz also notes that business is moving away from simple 4×6 prints to more specialized, custom items- calendars, cards, gift items, clothing, wallpaper, and especially photo books. Yannas forecasts the biggest growth potential in high-end (above $20) photo books. By embracing these new means of shooting and ways of preserving photos, he says, the photo industry can grow successfully in the digital age.