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AOL, Kodak introduce online photos

By DAVE GUSSOW Times Technology Editor

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 5, 1999


The voice is familiar, but the message has changed. Instead of America Online's famous "You've got mail," the company now also offers another message: "You've got pictures."

America Online and Kodak are rolling out a new digital photo service this month, and the Tampa Bay area is among the first places to get it. It works this way: When an AOL member takes a roll of photos to be developed at a participating retailer (or sends it in by mail), the film can be digitally sent and stored online. There is a box to check on the processing envelope. The service costs $5.95 in addition to the price of having the film developed.

Once online, the photos can be viewed, sent by e-mail or collected in an album. They also can be used on novelty items, such as coffee mugs, shirts and mouse pads, for an additional fee.

AOL touts how easy the system is to use: It has buttons below the photos where consumers can make their choices.

Non-AOL members can't participate in the program unless an AOL member sends them photos by e-mail. But eventually AOL hopes to make it available to all online, according to Todd Forest, AOL's director of imaging marketing.

For information, use the keyword "Pictures" on AOL.

* * *

Online job recruiting for members of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce is off to a strong start, chamber president Russ Sloan says. Numbers show that many companies participating in the program with NationJob (www.nationjob.com) more than doubled their traffic between February and June.

The program, which started last fall, allows chamber members to post online job vacancies for free. Sloan says it may take a year to assess the program to see how many postings result in applications and hires. But he is enthusiastic about the program as a regional marketing tool.

For information on the job posting program, call (727) 821-4069.

Add one thing to the certainty of death and taxes: Numbers associated with e-commerce will continue to grow.

By 2003, e-commerce will total $3.2-trillion a year for goods and services, according to Forrester Research analyst Bobby Cameron, who spoke in Tampa recently. It will become 20 percent of the retail market by 2003, Cameron predicted, up from 2 percent to 3 percent last year.

And though traditional retailing and selling of services won't go away, businesses have to figure out how to adapt to a higher-tech way of operating.

For example, Forrester estimates that consumers will buy 800,000 cars online by 2003 -- but another 8-million will be sold through information gathered on the Web. That means many consumers still want to kick the tires before buying a car.

The Web's influence will be seen in how the auto industry -- and others -- adapt to the technology, Cameron said. Dealers may keep a selection of models in showrooms and add computer kiosks for consumers to custom-order their cars, for example.

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