June 28, 2005 12:40 PM PDT

Fujifilm develops for Nextel

Fuji Photo Film U.S.A. has developed a few deals to let millions more people print their camera phone photos.

The latest carrier to sign up with Fujifilm is Nextel Communications. The Reston, Va.-based carrier said Tuesday that subscribers can now upload photos to the Internet for storage, or print them at any of 3,100 U.S. Fujifilm locations. The service costs $3 a month, plus between 29 cents and $2.99 per print, depending on desired quality.

According to Summus, a Raleigh, N.C.-based wireless specialist partnering with Fujifilm, two more carriers have deals with Fujifilm and will be unveiling similarly priced services. The carriers Summus named are Cingular Wireless, the No. 1 U.S. cell phone operator, and Little Rock, Ark.-based provider Alltel, both of which reportedly will debut services in the next two weeks. Fujifilm already partners with Sprint.

A Cingular representative had no comment on a deal with Fujifilm, however. Alltel did not return a call seeking comment.

By making printing deals with operators, Fujifilm and chief rival Kodak, whose mobile service is available through any number of carriers, want to take advantage of surging interest in camera phones. Though they were introduced only a few years ago, phones that take pictures now outsell traditional cameras by a widening margin.

Industry analyst Strategy Analytics estimates that nearly four in 10 cell phones shipped worldwide last year were camera phones, and that hundreds of millions of photo e-mails are swapped every year.

So far, it's hard to judge the success of the nascent printing business for phones, which is viewed as the logical next arena for carriers trying to appeal to photo-messaging-mad subscribers.

One of the more successful camera phone sellers is U.S. operator Sprint, which launched its camera phone photo printing service last fall in partnership with Fujifilm. But the carrier has not released details on the numbers of people printing out photos.

 

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