Top 10 Dead Pixels Society photo industry stories of 2017

It’s been a busy year for the Dead Pixels Society, with the launching of the full blog and a weekly newsletter. Here are the top 10 stories from the website, based on hits and shares:

10) Costco gets into business printing
Costco has added business printing to its online Photo Center. The company notified customers of the addition of business cards, banners, postcards and more to its product offerings. According to a notice in December, 2017, issue of The Costco Connections magazine, the services are provided by RPI.

9) Polaroid acquired by new ownership group
PLR IP Holdings, LLC, the owner of the Polaroid brand and related intellectual property, has been acquired by a group of investors led by the Smolokowski family. The new owners acquired 100% of the shares, effective May 5, 2017, from the Pohlad family, Gordon Brothers, Hilco Global and others

8) U Point local adjustment technology now available on DxO OpticsPro Raw Converter, which becomes DxO PhotoLab
DxO, a pioneer in digital imaging technologies, today announces the immediate release of DxO PhotoLab, formerly DxO OpticsPro, itsaward-winning RAW conversion software for Mac and PC. DxO PhotoLab introduces a comprehensive local retouching solution that is fully integrated into a non-destructive RAW workflow and includes former Nik Software’s U Point technology; an auto mask brush; a graduated filter; and a new Repair tool.

7) Consumer Reports does another strange photo print test
For 80 years, Consumer Reports has been the bellwether of reliable consumer product reviews. From washers and dryers to cars and trucks, CR was the go-to resource for unbiased information. Every year, the annual buyers guide – available on newsstands – influenced camera purchases, as the reviewers were seen as unbiased and truthful. Sometimes the recommendations were head-scratchers – like year the publication recommended a discontinued Yashica camera, sending dealers scrambling to find it for customers who “had to have” the camera earning the CR recommendation.

In the digital age, with review sites everywhere and the decline in influence of annual buying guides on consumer perception, Consumer Reports still follows the same editorial and business model. It’s laudable, really, but in the case of a recent “review” of “the best photo printing services,” it went from “laudable” to “laughable.”

6) Kodak missed the point of the PR moment
Kodak Alaris recently posted a press release about its new Kodak Moments marketing scheme. There was a time when Kodak “got” the point of the press release was to convey useful information, not dwell in a marketing-speak rathole. Kodak PR pros were literally the gold standard of the business; with this release, there wasn’t even a press contact person. As a photo trade editor for 25 years, I also had the pleasure of seeing top PR pros from many top companies, like Fujifilm, Canon, Nikon, Polaroid, Minolta, Agfa, Sony, etc., and their agencies. Great people all around. Sadly, there are fewer of them than they used to be.

5) Retailers helping retailers, using Photo Finale Marketplace

Fred Kuhn can offer a wide choice of gifts with little investment.

Photo dealers are scrappy people. They cherish their independence. But there comes a time when going it alone isn’t the best idea, especially when it comes to choosing new photo products. That’s where experimentation and idea-sharing can make a big difference. Retailers who are in touch with their markets instinctively know what products work and what don’t, but there are still room for surprises. That’s where the Photo Finale Marketplace program can come in to play. Photo Finale customers can set up wholesale relationships with other customers, either as a service provider, as a buyer or as both.

4) Updated: What the HEIF is going on?
With the debut of new iPhone 8 models and a VR-driven iPhone X, Apple has more than doubled-down on its smartphone platform as an imaging device. Boasting 12MP cameras and a host of new portrait modes, all three new iPhones promise new photo frontiers.
But, when it comes to printing those newfangled photos, could retailers be running into a problem? With the launch of OS 11 on Sept. 19, a new default image format will be introduced: High Efficiency File Format or HEIF.

3) Exclusive: Glossy Finish returns to original owners

Haim Ariav, founder and CEO, Glossy Finish

Glossy Finish, formerly the action sports division of Lifetouch National School Studios, was repurchased by an investment group led by founder and CEO Haim Ariav and Matt Winer, senior employee and CTO. Ariav launched the business in 2006, and sold it to Lifetouch in 2013, where it operated as a division of the company. Glossy Finish is based in Jacksonville Beach, Fla, and operates in 20 states.

2) Shutterfly earnings report overall printing market trends and challenges
Yesterday, photo-printing industry leader Shutterfly Inc. released its first-quarter earnings, which revealed once again the on-going struggles of making a year-round business out the typically seasonal photo-printing business. Shutterfly has invested millions in photo-printing plants with national reach, and then watch much of the equipment sit idle until the fourth quarter.

And the years’ top story:

1) Neomodern advances concierge photo printing service
There’s a new retail gallery concept unveiled on Union St. in San Francisco that tries to meld digital sensibilities with a classic fine-art aesthetic. Neomodern, launched by former Netflix and Adobe executive Michael Rubin, is a digital photography lab, frame shop and art gallery, offering concierge printing service.

The concept is simple: Offer high-quality, high-touch photo printing, in a limited number of sizes, in a distinct mat-and-frame offering. Three “project” sizes – 11×14, 16×20, 20×24 – are offered in the service, including concierge print optimization, archival printing, 4-ply white cotton mats, black or white wood framing, and museum-grade UV-protecting acrylic glazing. (Other print options are available, starting with a $35 unframed 8×10).