Photography giant Eastman Kodak Co has launched an internet photo bureau service, called the Kodak Picture Network, designed to allow consumers to store, reprint, edit and exchange their photos on the internet. The service comes as an extra service on top of photo development, where customers can have their photos digitally scanned and uploaded to a Kodak-hosted web page, which is accessed via a password. The scanning service will be offered at 30,000 processing facilities, or photos can be uploaded directly from digital cameras onto the web. Once the photos are online, consumers will be able to electronic mail them to their friends, create virtual photo albums, and have photos reprinted. The Picture Network uses Kodak’s image display protocol FlashPix, the replacement for its Photo CD protocol, which uses JPEG Image compression and is 10 times faster (CI No 2,982). Each 35mm print takes up 1.5MB of space. Kodak believes the service will only attract a few thousand subscribers in the first year, but in five years will have millions of users as digital cameras become consumer items. Kodak has no worries about the site being used as a pornographic bulletin board, with the potential to severely embarrass Kodak, because safeguards have been put in place. The service is free for 90 days, with a $4.95 charge per month for up to 100 prints, with $0.01 per month per extra photo, and an extra charge of $5 for each roll of film scanned. Kodak believes the picture network will be profitable, but would not disclose the level of investment, or the time it would take to reach profitability. It believes that this will not clash with its other digital photograph service, Photo CD, which is aimed at professional digital archive use, rather than the more consumer- orientated Photo Network. Kodak’s system is similar to Digimarc Corp’s MarcCentre professional image forum service (CI No 3,223), and Japanese camera manufacturers Konica Corp which introduced a similar service last year (CI No 2,194), in partnership with the Virginia-based PictureVision Inc.
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