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Photo standards war

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For those of us that don’t follow photo standards every day, there appears to be a new standards war forming among the picture takers of the world, with Kodak firmly holding up one side of the war, and representatives from the PC printing world led by Epson and HP, supporting the other.

Their two statements read virtually identically this week, the first dubbed Everplay, trying "to ensure compatibility of digital photos and motion images across a broad range of consumer products for future generations," and the other called PictSync, trying to "develop guidelines for easy photo sharing between cameras, phones and portable media players".

These statements of intent came on the eve of PMA 2006, the Photo Marketing Association shindig in Orlando in Florida. In one corner, with Kodak and Everplay, are major camera makers Fuji and Konica Minolta. Kodak also announced this week its ImagePlay initiative for linking to its own photo printing systems, with Nikon, Olympus and Pentax all partnering there.

Supporting on the other side with PictSync are Epson, HP, IDS, Olympus, PortalPlayer and Samsung, which puts Olympus in multiple camps. The PictSync group is also implying in its statements that it is an extension to the already established PictBridge, which is a Camera and Imaging Products Association (CIPA) standard for connecting digital imaging devices.

The Everplay group points out that: "Methods to organise and preserve digital images have evolved independently by many different companies and have lost interoperability among the different systems. The new Everplay standard aims to resolve these issues and respond to consumers' needs to protect images and enjoy widespread interoperability."

Everplay uses XML tagging in its specification and Fuji, Konica and Kodak will begin a royalty free license program with a free Software Development Kit, which all gives rights to use the Everplay logo.

The PictSync group said: "Today, it can be difficult for the average consumer to transfer an image from a camera phone or digital camera to a personal media player without first transferring the image to a PC. Even then, it may not be possible because data structures, transfer protocols and synchronisation policies are not followed consistently by all manufacturers."

PictSync says it will use existing industry standards such as MPV, DCF, MSC and PTP and that a licensing program is under development and it will release PictSync 1.0 plus a logo program by the end of Q1 with an open PictSync Plugfest planned for Q2 in San Francisco.

Most devices made in the last few years are understood to be PictBridge enabled so we’re not sure what either Imagelink or Everplay really add to the mix, if it’s anything more than marketing, or if PictSync has been launched for anything other than a tactical response.

Copyright © 2006, Faultline

Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.

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