Companies push for global digital photo printing

By May Wong The Associated Press
Tuesday June 18, 2002

SAN JOSE — Photo industry rivals are teaming up on an initiative to establish what they hope will become the ATM-equivalent of a global digital photo printing network. 

The goal is to create a network that would let digital camera users make prints of their images from anywhere in the world, making the photofinishing process for digital images at least as convenient as it is today for film. 

Companies, including Eastman Kodak, Fujifilm and Hewlett-Packard, support the initiative called CPXe, or Common Picture eXchange Environment, which the International Imaging Industry Association will announce Monday. 

The plan is to develop a Web-based framework and an open technological standard that would let consumers transmit and print digital photos from all kinds of sources — digital cameras, PCs, the Internet, photo kiosks, digital mini-labs and photofinishers. CPXe will let consumers upload, download and order prints of digital pictures at any retail location with any type of photofinishing equipment used by the retailer. 

For instance, a user could upload pictures from a home PC to any company on the network and place their printing orders at any location — even at a distant photofinishing retailer for a relatives to pick up. 

“Consumers today continue to shoot both film and digital,” said Lisa Walker, executive director of the industry association. “They think that ’if I want prints, I should use film,’ and we want to knock down that barrier.” 

The CPXe network standards are slated to be completed by the end of the year. Consumers may see the CPXe in action sometime in 2003, Walker said, but it will depend on how quickly the photo companies, retailers, and photofinishers decide to join the network. 

“This is imperative for the progression of the industry,” said Ron Glaz, a digital imaging industry analyst for market research firm International Data Corp. “But everyone in the industry has to jump on the bandwagon for it to work.”