Interview: Kodak's Chris Payne discusses the future of print, pt 2
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By James Matthews-Paul
22 May 2012
Kodak's stand at drupa included plenty of digital technology
In the second part of his interview with Chris Payne, Output publisher James Matthews-Paul asks Kodak's vice-president of commercial marketing his opinions on the future of the printed product.
Read part one here.
What are the areas of print that are suffering right now, that need to reinvent themselves or adapt better to what the end customer wants?
The market's changing because of the digital, hyper-connected world that we're living in. Developed emerging markets – the significant change in economic power and disposable income in the different countries around the world – is [also] significant. These two trends, beyond any others, are going to drive the future of our industry on a global basis.
We believe at the end of the day that every application is going to change. Even packaging, and other functional printing: I don't think it's too far away that a package you buy in a store will talk to your smartphone, and when you take it home – this may be a bit futuristic – it's going to sit on your shelf and when there's a little left it's going to ping your smart shopping list to remind you to buy it. I don't think that's far away – maybe five or ten years.
Every application is going to go through the same thing. Digital technology is going to be everywhere: with books you can see it right now. Obviously you've got Kindle and other devices, but book publishers are still going to be producing paperbacks, in the main, for at least the next two or three decades, because people still want to use books.
If you look at digital music – which I would say is an easier application to go digital – in 2012 I think 50 percent of music [is expected to be] purchased and downloaded. Let's say it's taken a decade to get to [that level of] penetration; with books I would argue the adoption rate is going to be slower. One thing I don't think is going to happen in books that has happened in music is piracy. The ability to buy a CD, rip it and give it to your friend is really not going to exist; the book publishers have stated that quite hard. So paperback and educational books are going to stay for some time. It's going to decline, but the opportunity for printers is obviously [in shorter runs]; they want to take out stock in the system, they want to conserve that cash, [which is] an opportunity for digital printers and that market to change.
Is print sexy enough? It is attractive enough to people outside drupa?
[This is] probably the number-one question that not just Kodak but [also] customers and suppliers have. I look at all these applications, the marriage of traditional skills we've used for the last 30 years with digital capabilities, both workflow and some of the [newer] technologies, like ink-jet. If you look forward four years from now we have to be talking about the value of print – we refer to it internally as 'the value of the page'.
Print has been a commodity and it's been the commodity way that everyone communicated. If you look at the progression of radio and then television, people said when television came along newspapers would die, magazines would go away. That was in the 50s. In the 70s we had [the prediction of] 'the paperless office'. I think if you look at paper consumption that goes to the office [now], there's [actually] more paper being consumed. So it's very clear, even in the developing world – China, India, Brazil, Russia, where for demographic reasons people's spending power [is] growing – they're going to continue to grow offset printing, which you could say is flat or declining in the developed world of Western Europe and America.
Print has to find a way where it adds value to all the other communications streams that are out there. Newspapers are actually the hardest application long term. It was the way people woke up in the morning and knew what was going on. Then television came along and people watched their television, or listened to the news [on the radio], but they bought a newspaper because it gave them the opinion piece. Now it's very clear that you can actually go online and get that. Newspaper publishers are trying to fix that model. [It's a] part of our problem of why we can't get mainstream journalists to understand what's going on with the rest of print – they're caught up with [it] themselves.
Continue reading this interview on Output here.
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