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Growth of Photo Print Volumes Driven by Several Factors in the U.S.

InfoTrends is forecasting that the digital photo print market in the U.S. will peak at 22 billion prints by 2011, before beginning a gradual decline in 2012, as shown in the figure below. We believe that this print volume growth will stem from new digital camera buyers, as well as the growth of multiple digital camera households. Many new digital camera owners may turn to printing to emulate the experience they’ve had with film cameras, before “evolving” as a digital photographer and turning to other methods of viewing such as digital picture frames and photo books.

Growth Drivers

There are a couple of additional factors that are also expected to catalyze growth in the volume of photo prints among consumers in the U.S. over the forecast period. These include advancements in technology and growth of capture devices as well as declining print prices.

Growth in Capture Devices

Every time a new camera or camera-phone is sold, there’s more potential for digital photo prints to be generated from those devices. Even though the digital camera market is becoming more saturated, there is still growth predicted over the next few years in the U.S. Digital cameras have also gotten a lot “smarter” over the last few years, as many of the new models on the market today employ technologies that will produce better pictures, such as face and smile detection, automatic scene adjustment, and image stabilization. Assuming that most consumers print only their best photos, there will be more potential for consumers to produce print-worthy images with the new camera models that are entering the market now, and will continue to be introduced over the next few years.

Most images taken with camera phones today live and die on the phone. Very few are printed, as most are shared or viewed electronically and eventually deleted. Much of the reason for this lies behind the technology in camera phones, as the vast majority of camera-phones being used today in the U.S. have low resolution and compromised lenses, and it is often difficult to get the images off the phone. Some of these issues may be addressed over the next few years, but camera phones have a long way to go before they’re used as primary cameras. InfoTrends believes that camera phones will be used almost exclusively for random, unplanned photo opportunities, but most consumers will take a dedicated digital still camera with them when they go out with the intention of taking photos. Still, with a huge installed base and better-quality models entering the market over the next few years, the potential is there for camera phones to generate significant print numbers.

Prints Are More Affordable

The cost of printing photos continues to be an issue with many consumers, particularly for those that print at home, but print prices have declined significantly over the last few years, especially from online providers. Snapfish lowered its everyday 4” x 6” print prices to $0.12 back in December 2007, and most retailers are charging less than $0.20 per print, even for prints picked up the same day. With lower prices and a larger install base of retailers with digital photo printing capabilities, consumers have more photo printing options than ever before, at very affordable prices.

The preceding is an excerpt from a report entitled, U.S. Consumer Photo Prints Market Forecast: 2006-2012. To learn more about this report, visit our online store or contact Robyn Wuori at ext. 109 or via e-mail at .


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