The 2005 Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Assocation (CTIA) wireless conference was held March 14-16 in New Orleans. You might be wondering – what does wireless have to do with digital cameras? Well, an increasing number of phones include cameras with an increasing amount of “firepower”, but after what we’ve learned at CTIA, that’s only the beginning of what camera manufacturers and wireless providers hope to achieve.
The idea of a camera phone is nothing new. You can routinely see phones that include cameras of at least 1 megapixel. In his keynote speech at CTIA, Daniel A. Carp, CEO of Kodak, stated that sixty percent of camera phone users “rarely or never” upload pictures to a computer. Further, seventy percent “rarely or never” share their photos with other phone users. Kodak estimates that between 25 and 68 million pictures will be captured with camera phones this year. We had a chance to sit down and talk with Andy Wilson, Director of WW Strategy & Business Development at Kodak. Kodak wants to make it extremely easy for users to print and share pictures (from their camera or phone) and not be tied to their computer to perform these tasks. For example, they want a user to be able to walk in to their home, sit down on their couch and wirelessly print pictures or be able to send them to an online gallery for sharing.
One part of this strategy involves working with the wireless providers to allow users to subscribe to the Kodak Mobile Service. Subscribers will be able to access their photos from anywhere at any time from their handsets. The user will be able to take a picture, upload it to a server and be able to view it, order prints, or share it. At Kodak Picture Maker kiosks, phone users will be able to order prints by transferring images to the kiosk from infrared or Bluetooth enabled phones.
At their booth, Kodak was demonstrating a prototype printer that included a dock for a mobile phone. With the touch of one button, the image was printed out on the EasyShare printer.
The other part of the strategy is wireless enabled cameras and printers. While at CTIA, we got a chance to see the Kodak EasyShare One digital camera in person. The EasyShare One is a 4 megapixel camera with a 3x optical zoom and has 256 MB of internal memory. By utilizing the Kodak WiFi card, the camera can communicate directly with a WiFi equipped EasyShare printer, allowing the user to create prints with the press of a single button. Also, Kodak wants to make it very easy to send your pictures to their EasyShare Gallery (formerly known as Ofoto) to order prints and share your pictures and you can do so when you’re sitting in a WiFi “hotspot”. The entire “backplate” of the camera can be flipped around for optimal angle, and the 3-inch touchscreen LCD is very nice. The camera will be available in June 2005 at a MSRP of $599.
Another upcoming product, the EasyShare PictureViewer, is a pocket-sized, portable image gallery. The lightweight device is perfect for showing off pictures of your pets, and kids. It can also sit on an EasyShare printer dock for recharging and to print images. The PictureViewer is to be available in June 2005 at an MSRP of $149.