Kodak has long been known for producing imaging and photographic material.
hdtv.biz-news.com asked Matthew Yarrow, Kodak country business manager for the UK and Ireland, to explain the rationale behind his company’s decision to move into new territory with the launch of a set-top box.

The Kodak Theatre HD Player, due for release in September, is a Wi-Fi equipped TV set-top box that can stream music, videos, and photos from any computer that is connected to the same network to your HDTV. It offers 720p playback, HDMI and component output ports, and a USB port.

With digital photos increasingly being stored on computers, the days of flicking through family photo albums are a thing of the past for many people.

But that doesn’t mean the desire to look through holiday snaps with family and friends has been lost.
Matthew Yarrow said that was a primary factor in Kodak’s move into the set-top box market.

“Consumers describe to us, with strong emotion, that with all the advantages of digital photography, they’ve lost their pictures in their computers,” he said.

“In film days, families would gather together on the couch to pass around albums and envelopes of prints. They would stay up late sharing memories, telling their stories, with laughter and tears. But with digital photography, sharing pictures has become ‘computer work’.

“They want their pictures and memories back in their life. And what better way to gather together the family, and release the emotions of their pictures and stories than on the most beautiful screen in the house.”

Kodak also believes HDTVs offer the potential for interactive “features” far beyond innovative technical aspects now being offered.

“Our consumer, the proactive photo sharer, is not only ready for the HDTV to do more, they want it to be the hub of the family,” said Yarrow. “A sort of the campfire around which the family gathers to relive key moments and memories, to enjoy their favorite photos, videos, and slideshows.

“To even be able to make the HDTV the gather round point for new pictures and to be able to share these images with family and friends right from the couch.”

But Yarrow said people wanted more than just the ability to view pictures on the big screen: “They want to interact with their pictures too – send the favourites to family when the moment is special, create special slideshows, add their own music.
The Kodak Theatre is designed with these primary needs in mind.”

What consumers are demanding, according to Yarrow, are solutions that free their trapped images from PCs, memory cards and digital cameras.

But the proliferation of HDTV technology has also created a demand for HD content beyond standard television programming.

“Our consumer research shows that consumers want to relive the most cherished moments of their lives on their HDTV,” said Yarrow.

“The Player meets consumer desires to do more with their pictures, music and videos and engage more easily and more interactively with their personal content, as well as content from family and friends from around the globe.”

Yarrow said the US$300 Theatre HD Player – a competitor of the likes of PlayStation 3 and AppleTV – was most likely to appeal to what he described as “active photo sharers and technology optimists”.
He said this group would have some of the following characteristics –
* Highest median picture saving of all segments, 266 per year
* Primary person in the household for organising, printing, and sharing pictures
* Wish to keep family and friends connected
* Wish the sharing, organising and storing of pictures to be easy and pictures accessible
* Enjoy having pictures displayed at home or work
* Never get tired of looking at photographs
* More likely than general population to visit online sites
* 98 per cent email photos to others

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