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Kodak and Intel launch digital photo service

But we've been here before with PhotoCD, guys...

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Kodak and Intel launched PictureCD in New York yesterday, although market testing started in Salt Lake City and Indianapolis last week. What's on offer is the possibility of taking photographs with an ordinary camera, and having the results on a CD-ROM. The cost will be around $10 in the US. Kodak has, of course, been here long before with its PhotoCD system. It was launched in the early 90s as a consumer product, but the then relative paucity of CD-ROM drives in PCs and the cost of a PhotoCD player to install between TV and VCR nixed that idea. PhotoCD ended up a professional product aimed at phot libraries and medical archiving. This time round, Kodak has been collaborating with Intel on the project -- Intel provided help with the hardware. They plan a $150 million joint-marketing campaign over the next three years. George Fisher, Kodak's CEO, said he expected the product to generate "tens of millions to a hundred million" dollars a year initially, potentially rising to $1 billon, though it's not clear how that loot will be divvied out between the two companies. The roll out of Kodak's 13,000 photo-service kiosks will start next year. Intel's reason for partnering, according to CEO Craig Barrett, was to "fuel demand for high-performance PCs" -- which accounts for it being developed for Windows only (but not 3.x of course), and there being no news of an intended Mac version. The minimum spec is a 90MHz Pentium and 16MB of RAM. This is a tad disingenuous. PhotoCD (and there appears to be no significant technical different between PhotoCD and PictureCD -- at least, Kodak was unable to explain what such a difference might be) discs can easily be viewed on a PC circa 1990. In other words, it would appear Intel is keen to talk up the spec. Given consumers' love of making systems last long after any self-respecting IT manager would have bitten the bullet and upgraded, this policy may backfire. In any case, do consumers actually want it? Digital cameras have yet to set the market alight, but there's no sign that amateur snappers have passed them by simply because they didn't want to have to buy a new camera. And passing the holiday snaps around the office is a mite difficult when the pictures are on disc. Which leaves professionals, who have bought digital cameras and PhotoCD for archiving and so won't be particularly interested in PhotoCD either. ® Graham Lea contributed to this story Click for more stories

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