- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 22, 2004

PARIS (AP) — Eastman Kodak Co. plans to grab a share of revenue from Europe’s fast-growing camera-phone market by starting its online photo service for mobiles as it scrambles to make the transition from celluloid to digital technology.

Kodak is to announce the move today at the 3GSM world mobile phone congress in Cannes, Senior Vice President Bernard Masson told the Associated Press.

Starting in May, owners of a new wave of higher resolution camera phones should be able to upload their pictures and videos to a central server, send them by e-mail or print them via wireless infrared or Bluetooth links at Kodak kiosks.

Final terms and prices have not been reached with the phone operators that will bill Kodak’s new subscribers in Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.

“We’re confident about this because we’ve been able to capture the three big operators in the United States,” Mr. Masson said by telephone, referring to AT&T; Wireless, Cingular and Verizon, which began offering the service to their subscribers at $3 a month in November.

Kodak, based in Rochester, N.Y., already has struck a deal with phone maker Nokia to make phones compatible with its kiosks, Mr. Masson said, and is in “advanced discussions” with operators Vodafone, T-Mobile and Orange.

Mr. Masson said it was too early to predict revenue for the new service.

Market research firm IDC estimates that 250 million of the handsets will be sold in Europe over the next three years.

That represents a potential cash cow for Kodak, which in September announced an ambitious strategy to make digital imaging its new core business.

More than a century after it turned picture-taking into a hobby for the masses with its $1 Brownie camera, Kodak also acknowledged that chemical-based photography was in irreversible decline.

It now plans to invest $3 billion in digital consumer photography, commercial printing and medical imaging by 2007.

As mobile subscriber numbers reach saturation in mature Western European markets, Kodak’s image services and its household-name brand also offer operators a new way to boost revenues and recoup their massive outlays on high-speed UMTS licenses and infrastructure technology.

The “third generation” of mobile telephones has begun to arrive in Europe, years behind its original schedule, and the new services it includes — such as live video streaming and broadband Internet access on the go — will be a central feature of this year’s 3GSM conference.

About 30,000 visitors are expected to descend on Cannes for the congress, which runs through Thursday.

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