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Smile, you're online

24 May 1999

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It was five years ago today... With the benfit of hindsight, it's not difficult to imagine the public enthusiastically avoiding Net-enabled photobooths like the plague. It's not always a taken that the great unwashed masses will adopt a technology just because someone has spent a lot of money on it - the confused 3G roll-out and subsequent user apathy towards its delights is a current example of the syndrome.

That's not to say, however, that 3G will ultimately go the way of the Photo-Me and BT initiative of five years ago. We reckon the Internet cafe pretty well did for this one:

Smile, you're online

By Linda Harrison
Published Monday 24th May 1999 16:46 GMT

Draw the curtains, find your loose change and perfect that pout. Normally the domain of snogging couples, there is a plan afoot to transform the humble photo-booth into the next Web environ. Brits will be able to surf the Net or send email from the cabins by the end of this year.

The brainchild of BT and Photo-Me International will eventually allow punters to access the Internet in around 4000 Photo-Me booths in the UK. Previously only used for photos, the booths will be redesigned with screens and keyboards. Users will be able to send email and access the Web. A facility will also be available for users to plug in digital cameras and print or email photographic images. The majority of booths will be in railway stations, airports, shopping centres and supermarkets. BT will provide the network linking the booths to the Web, and Photo-Me will be responsible for manufacture and maintenance.

Serge Crasnianski, Photo-Me CEO, said the booths were mainly designed for email or e-business for people without a PC. It would also be used for sending photos to friends and family. Internet access will cost £1 per six minute block. Free technical support will be provided through phones inside every booth. London will get the first phones in December, with 1000 more in place by next spring.


4000 booths? To be honest, we don't recall ever seeing one, although we are quite prepared to be corrected on the matter. And as for the £1 per six minute access charge, blimey, you can park in Central London for less — even in 2004.

Nevertheless, Photo-Me has continued to drag its products kicking and screaming into the 21st century, and now has a bluetooth-enabled Digital Media Kiosk, wherein happy punters can download and print out their digital photos. Presumably, it'll work with 3G cameraphones too, if you can be bothered. ®

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