Kodak Aims to Take Lion Share of Chinese Digital Printing Market

Kodak, a transnational film giant,plans to cooperate with the Bank of China to launch the second round of a lending operation to assist the formation of a nationwide network to print photos taken by digital cameras.

Under the scheme, anyone who wishes to join the Kodak color digital photo printing chain store system will be provided with loans of up to one million yuan (about 120,400 US dollars), said Chen Yaorong, general manager of the Consumer Imaging Department under Kodak (China) Ltd.

Kodak has set up 8,300 color photo printing stores in more than700 Chinese cities. Of the total, 1,400 engage in digital film printing, serving as the largest retail print service network in China since it set about building a digital photo chain in 1994.

Nevertheless, Chen noted, quite a number of Chinese investors have flinched at the costly digital photo printing equipment. The scheme offers a financing channel for those who is in need of adequate funds for purchasing digital printers.

The development of the digital photo industry in China is growing faster than expected, he added. Statistics showed that thenumber of Kodak chain stores for digital photo development increased by 10 times to 1,400 by the end of last year. And the sales value of digital printers quadrupled.

The Bank of China issued 60 million yuan (about 7.2 million US dollars) in loans to Kodak chain store owners in the first round of the lending operation. In a number of large cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu, transactions of digital prints went up by one quarter.

According to a recent market survey, the number of digital camera users in China has increased at an annual rate of up to 50 percent. The sales of digital cameras across the country last yearexceeded 600,000, up 70 percent.

Moreover, Chen predicted that digital printing would make up 30percent of the total film photos developed in China by 2005.

People's Daily Online --- http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/