Snapping at the heels of progress

Caroline Parry’s article on the uptake of digital cameras (MW January 16) certainly is good news to the online digital photography industry. The general consumer preference of digital cameras over film is strongly reflected in this sector, as the 2002 Christmas season saw consumers flocking to online digital photography websites uploading and buying prints and accessories. Sales at Christmas were up 400 per cent on last year, with an annual growth in new registrations of 200 per cent.

A combination of falling PC and digital camera prices, increased consumer confidence in the internet and constant developments of new technologies, have all resulted in a commercialisation of online digital photography. It is no longer a market for technophiles, but rather a mainstream consumer commodity.

This development has interested the wider digital business community as several internet service providers, mobile phone companies and professional photographers utilise the unique customer relationship management, marketing and e-commerce benefits online digital photography offers. Freeserve now provides its customers with a white-label, online digital photography service, enjoying e-commerce revenues previously not possible. Two other developments will have a huge impact on its consumer popularity and digital marketing impact: broadband and picture messaging.

As the technology enables users to upload and send heavier and higher resolution images between various digital platforms, online photography will become a central hub for digital visual entertainment and provide companies with a crucial marketing tool. As MMS (multimedia messaging) and 3G phones continue to improve in image quality and cross-platform functionality, online digital photography will be a central access hub where images can be stored, viewed, manipulated and forwarded to other digital platforms such as phones, PDAs, televisions and PCs.

If the UK wants to be at the forefront of the “digital economy”, online digital photography can strongly contribute. However, like traditional film, it is a specialist industry. Its services have to remain within the realm of the experts to achieve exceptional results.

Graham Hobson,

Managing director

PhotoBox

London EC1

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