The Perspective 
Monday, 17 July 2006
People just prefer gifts from the heart. What better way to do this than personalize their memories and make gifts of them? Photo kiosks are now engineered to print everything from regular greeting cards to calendars and mugs.
 
The demand for these products grew as cameras (and camera-phones) became one of the fastest-selling consumer electronic devices ever, partly due to affordability and the proliferation of secondary industries like digital printing at retail and affordable home photo printers. Prices drop with each new model, paving the way for most households to own at least one digital camera. Upping the ante, camera manufacturers look to out-do each other not only on price, but on form and function as well, making the digital camera highly-appealing to consumers.
 
The ubiquity of digital cameras in almost every household and the rapid drop in flash memory dollars-per-byte mean that there is an amazing amount of pictures, and now video, taken at all sorts of events like weddings, graduations, birthdays and vacations.
 
Viewing JPEGs off of your PhotoCD and hitting the disc player’s ‘Next Track’ button repeatedly for about 30 photos may be tolerable, but beyond about 50 photos, you start to wonder if there is a better way to relive your Grand Canyon adventure.
 
Video, even the most amateurish homemade ones, has the ability to capture the ambience and excitement at any given event in a very different way from photos; from the moment of the kiss at the wedding, to a baby blowing out his birthday candles.
 
Added to this, the combination of abundant storage and the ability to “shoot and check” has created a generation of trigger-happy users who snap away and end up with hundreds of pictures at a single event, many of which may be pretty similar. We are now also observing, in that mix, a good measure of short video clips too. Many of these memories are precious and will end up being printed on a whole array of media. What’s sad is that these precious memories are often locked away after printing, or worse, incarcerated to a PhotoCD, never to see the light of day, nor shared and enjoyed.
 
Retailers and photo kiosk manufacturers are constantly finding ways to increase their revenue per square feet and per kiosk. Printing on T-shirts, mugs, calendars, greeting cards and other premium products and so on are all fine, but they all seem to lack some element of fun and interactivity. Photo Kiosk offerings must expand and video presents just such an opportunity
 
Kiosk users demand good quality prints, intuitive user interfaces and new innovative products that meet their evolving needs. In the younger demographics, we see video creation and public sharing taking off, in the likes of Revver and YouTube. However, the emotional satisfaction of sharing precious memories with loved ones in private will always be treasured, and video will increasingly be a medium of consideration as a complement to, not replacement of, photos. As people go to their neighborhood kiosks to process their photos, they are going to demand that the same kiosks be able to make something of their huge albums and also handle their videos too.
 
We are not spelling out the doom of photo printing. Users will always want to print some of their favorite pictures, but they will also want to archive all of the shots that they do not print for posterity. Burning these hundreds of pictures to a CD/DVD is a basic option, but to survive in an increasingly competitive photo kiosk space, kiosk operators need to provide greater value-add to increase margins. With the right choice of templates and music, these videos and pictures can be stitched into professionally created music videos. Once you have engaging user generated content, that’s when revenue generation will begin.
 
With video content, users can order a DVD to be burned, upload the video to a portal to be shared via the Internet, where their friends can place an online order for the same DVD and collect them in their neighborhood drugstore. Users can also opt to have this video saved in a more compressed format to be Bluetooth-loaded onto their mobiles, or PSP, or iPod video. This means that a single set of pictures and/or video can generate multiple products which can be ordered by more than one client in multiple locations, increasing throughput and of course, ROI.
 
We envisage more synergy between photo kiosks, the Internet and social networking sites. We strongly believe for the next few years, the inflexion point for photo kiosks’ growth will come from the increased demand for video solutions. Granted, there will be more photos taken and more prints ordered at retail kiosks, but margins for these products will be under a lot of pressure.
 
With the popularity of consumer portable video storage and playback devices, today, there are many places where users will want to fill up with their personal videos, so they can whip out that screen from their breast pocket to show a colleague a video of their baby’s first steps.  We think the visionary kiosk maker will quickly jump in to be the centre of that ecosystem: take the photos and videos from users and create engaging content out of them, then repurpose it for the myriad devices where they can then be shared.
 
These value-added capabilities can benefit both the corner photo finishing shop and the large chain drugstores as they each fulfill this need on different scales and reach.
 
As a co-founder and chief opportunities officer of muvee, Terence See helped build muvee autoProducer, the world's first automatic video editing software. Terence is also instrumental in putting muvee's products on the world map, and negotiates licensing deals with other players in the consumer electronics space. In 2000, he became the 25th Singaporean to complete the grueling 226km Ironman in Langkawi.     
Posted by: Terence Swee AT 02:08 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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