Apr 26, 2006

Kodak aims for iPod-like simplicity

Source: Rochester Democrat and Chronical
Written by Ben Rand

(April 26, 2006) — NEW YORK — For all of its mind-boggling advances — such as letting users know instantly whether they got the shot and being able to send pictures across the world at the click of a mouse — digital photography makes you work. Hard.

Just ask yourself: How many digital images are quietly sitting on hard drives around the world, carrying strange file names such as 1000014a.jpg, perhaps never to be seen by the naked eye again?

Too many, is Eastman Kodak Co.’s answer. And Rochester’s No. 2 employer vowed here Tuesday to do something about it.

The company that invented consumer photography said it is ready to lead its industry through a sweeping transformation, much like the revolution in music-listening triggered by the Apple iPod and related devices.

“Digital unleashed the potential of music,” said Pierre Schaeffer, chief marketing officer for Kodak’s consumer digital photography group. “And the same thing is about to happen with digital photography.”

Within the next five years, Kodak intends to make it point-and-click simple for consumers to organize their pictures into stories, creating lasting memories out of potentially abandoned bits and bytes.

It will do this, Kodak told journalists and analysts during a presentation at Rockefeller Plaza, by moving into the marketplace a series of intriguing technologies developed largely by scientists in Rochester.

The technologies are aimed at unleashing a torrent of consumer creativity Kodak is counting on to succeed in its ambitious shift from film to digital imaging. The company sees the technology triggering increased printing of digital images, leading to increased sales of photo paper and related accessories, as well as a range of imaging services as yet unimagined.

The opportunity is there for a revolution in picture-taking habits, similar to what happened when the iPod made it easy and popular for people to carry their favorite songs on devices in their back pockets, Kodak said.

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