Kodak is missing a trick

Once upon a time, photos were happy to dwell in the dark confines of a shoe-box or within the static-charged plastic sleeves of photo albums. That was before digital changed everything.

I had lunch today with fellow entrepreneur Pat Phelan. Pat and I work in completely different industries. Pat is turning the mobile carrier business on its head; My area of expertise is Imaging, specifically imaging software for the web. Pat is one of those rare people whose energy and enthusiasm is infectious. The last time I spoke with Pat was after he had given a talk at the IT@Cork midsummer networking event some weeks back. Today though, I was doing most of the talking. I was talking about Photo Books.

Have you seen a Photo book? If you have, you’ve probably already made and purchased one for yourself. These Photo books are a far cry from the bulky ring-bound photo albums of old. They are hard-cover glossy coffee-table books featuring your own photos – and are quite simply beautiful. If you flick through a friend’s photo book I guarantee you will want one for yourself. They make fantastic gifts – which may be why they are so popular in Australia, where sending photos to family abroad is more common.

There are many European Photobook fulfillment companies. TicTacPhoto make beautiful hand-bound books of exceptional quality (check out the Flash intro on their website for a primer on what they do). I saw their work first-hand at the PMA conference last year. There are many other fulfillment companies who also provide Photo book merchandise and right now some of those companies are feeling pain.

Digital Production color press

Digital production color presses – the kind used to create Photo Books cost a lot of money. We’re talking about a significant 6-figure investment in hardware.

So let’s imagine you’re in the photo book business and you’ve just forked out hundreds of thousands of dollars for one of these machines. You would think your pain ends there but it’s only just beginning. You see, you now have to provide software so your customers can layout and design their photo books (I’ve played with some of these desktop software packages and they are complex and hard to use).

Unsurprisingly many digital print companies are now looking for simpler, more intuitive web-based photobook layout software but Kodak don’t appear to have such a product. I can’t imagine Kodak’s commercial customers are happy about this situation. In fact I know they aren’t.

If Kodak really care about their customers, here’s what I think they should do…

[1] Provide customizable, rebrandable web-based photobook layout software for all Nexpress customers. Macintosh users (in Europe at least) are left out in the cold. Which is surprising given how many creative moms (the people most likely to buy photobooks) use them. The software web-based so that it works on Windows, Mac and Linux and lets consumers get the most from the photos they continue to share online. This would be a double-win for Kodak if the software integrates with its own online photo-sharing site ofoto/EasyShare .

There are some who might say you can’t have web-based photo book layout software. They said that about Photo editing too – didn’t they?

In the meantime, until Kodak gets its act together (3 to 5 years), if you’re a photo book company looking for a game changing web-based software solution, please get in touch.

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5 thoughts on “Kodak is missing a trick

  1. Jenny says:

    I was referred to this blog post by a twitterer. I am not super familiar with our Nexpress business so I am going to ask one of our commercial printing folks to come over and read this and give you some thoughts. All I can say is that I love making photobooks on the Kodak Gallery (like of my pug) and people are always impressed when they see them.

  2. walter says:

    Hi Jenny,

    Thanks for visiting. I guess the problem really is that Nexpress customers don’t get online photobook software with their hardware. I’ve used the photobook software at kodakgallery but have to wonder – why isn’t a similar solution available to Nexpress customers?

  3. khk says:

    Disclaimer: I’m not talking for Kodak or GCG or Nexpress!
    Maybe the reason for not getting a photobook application with the press is that not all presses are used in the photo rich market. You are also not getting a lot of other software that some (or many) customers need for their specific requirements. And, as far as I know, there are photobook applications available for the Nexpress engine – it’s a PDF engine, so anything that can produce PDF can produce print jobs for that press.

  4. Justin says:

    wow, I had no idea this had taken off to such an extent! You’re dead right though, without web-based editing, it’s no use; I took a look at TicTacPhoto and once they mentioned that I’d have to download software, it put me right off.

  5. walter says:

    Justin nails it…

    I took a look at TicTacPhoto and once they mentioned that I’d have to download software, it put me right off.

    That might not be such a put-off for today’s creative moms who want to create photobooks of their kids photos (today’s moms are still wary of sharing family photos online) but give it a few years and they too will wonder “why do I have to download software when all my photos are online ?”

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