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Kodak pushes mobile images

Despite Saudi Arabia’s ban on camera phones, Kodak is still promoting a printer, which allows mobile photo’s to be printed

Photographic and optical equipment maker, Kodak, has launched two innovative new products at Gitex 2004, one of which will allow users of digital mobile phones to print pictures straight to the device using Bluetooth technology.

The launch of the company’s wireless enabled Printer Dock Plus, which allows users to print pictures direct from their mobile phones, comes in the shadow of last week’s total ban on camera phones by Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia banned the sale of mobile phones with built-in digital cameras after men were reported to be using the devices to photograph women secretly.

The decision is likely to have an immediate impact on Kodak’s mobile printing partner, Nokia, whose best-selling 7650, picture phone has already been withdrawn from shops in the Kingdom

Abdul Rahman Shawakri, regional business manager of Kodak Middle East said the Saudi ban would not stifle the market. “When it comes to technology, the technology is there. Of course governments have the right to eliminate the products, but at the end the end of the day, this is a market trend.”

Developments in mobile phone technology have advanced rapidly. Innovations, such as Bluetooth, allow users to print images much more easily than previously. Shawakri said he expected permitting technologies, such as the Printer Dock Plus, to do well: “We are very much expecting to make a big noise with this (Printer Dock Plus), mainly because the market has been waiting for these types of devices to become available”. This is underpinned by increasingly improved picture resolution quality, which is moving from 0.3 mega-pixels in existing camera phones to 1.3 mega-pixels.

He compared the rise of digital camera and mobile phone markets to the rise of the internet: “Just like the internet, this technology is a very valuable media, and of course it’s also a very dangerous media. We are keen to eliminate such bans, but we can only ask people to take advantage of the technology and use it in a mature and responsible way.”
The Printer Dock Plus is expected to retail at US$249 and is part of Kodak’s EasyShare family of products. The printer was launched alongside Kodak’s latest digital camera, the five mega-pixel DX7590.

Aimed at the semi-professional market, the camera it the latest of its kind to hit the market. It comes with a 10-times optical zoom, a 2.2-inch LCD screen and a Schneider-Kreuznach Variogen lens, which Shawakri says will doubtless will impress the target audience.

The camera’s EasyShare capabilities include an EasyShare button, which allows the user to email, transfer as well as print images, simply by pressing one button. “The camera can hold up to 32 email addresses,” said Shawakri
The camera made its initial debut at a photography exhibition in Germany last week.

However, Shawakri said the decision to bring the camera from Germany to Dubai, was due to the importance of the Gitex exhibition and the importance of Dubai and the region.
“Gitex is no longer a local or regional event. It is now an international exhibition from which people are expecting a lot.”

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