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Home Picture Printing Declines

U.S. consumers are using home printers less to make prints of their digital-camera pictures and are heading instead to retail outlets instead, a study says.

U.S. consumers are using home printers less to make prints of their digital-camera pictures, heading instead to retail outlets, a market research firm said Wednesday.

Of the 18.3 billion digital photos expected to be printed this year, 65 percent will be done in the home, 25 percent at a store or kiosk and the rest via the Internet, International Data Corp. said. By comparison, 90 percent were printed at home in 2002 and only 4 percent in stores. Last year, the numbers were 74 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

"Retail vendors have gotten on the ball and are offering digital prints at competitive prices," IDC analyst Chris Chute said.

Printer manufacturers, however, have not stood still and have lowered the price of ink to reduce the cost per print, Chute said. In 2003 it cost 70 cents to 80 cents to print a picture at home. Today, the cost runs from 24 cents to 29 cents.

Rather than point to trouble for printer manufacturers, the numbers reflect a fragmenting market, Chute said. Camera enthusiasts tend to use the home more, and the average consumer is heading to the store. Many people, however, are also using both.

"There's a lot of choice and flexibility in where we do our printing," Chute said.

In addition, manufacturers, such as Hewlett-Packard Co., are partnering with others to draw revenue from the Internet and stores.

In the meantime, there's no sign that the number of digital photos printed each year is going down. In 2003, 2004 and 2005, the numbers were 7 billion, 13.5 billion and 18.3 billion, respectively, according to IDC.

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