We’re believers that the physical printing of digital photo will continue to be big business, at least until the home printing of photos progresses beyond the unsatisfactory ink jet printing currently available. Home produced prints are slow; expensive; require a number of prints to get the colour reproduction correct and, then after all that, the inks fade in sunlight.
Not surprisingly Kodak are keen not to loose the profits they collect from analogue film cameras and are launching their online print service, Ofoto, in the UK on 22 September. Working in the same way as rival services, the photos are simply uploaded to the site and the option is given to crop the photo or apply finishing touches such as removal of red eye. The images are then passed for printing and return in the post, printed on Kodak paper, as per a normal film camera, bringing the same longevity to the print. The photos are also available on the Web – cleveryly making it convenient for friends and relatives to buy further prints.
The service has been available around the world since 1999, has won a couple of US accolades – “Best Photo Service” by Time magazine, and winner of a CNET Editors’ Choice Award – and to date eight million people have used it. They have also coined a new term, infoimaging, which apparently is the convergence of imaging and information technology – a new one to us.
The one-off print prices are reasonably competitive, but strangely discounts for multiple prints are not offered, as most of their competitors do, however this is slightly balanced by competitive delivery prices.