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BRIEFS: July 8

On-line price war between Harveys, Big W

Harvey Norman and Big W are going at it hammer and tongs in their online photo businesses, both promoting an identical 9 cent print offer through early July.

Harveys launched a ‘9 cents for 9 days’ promotion on July 2, after running a 10 cent offer in early June. Big W came out with its own 9 cent offer three days later, cross-promoted with a toy department sale.

The two big retailers seem to be going toe for toe on their websites, with a pattern developing of them pushing out very similar offers at around the same time. Both had simultaneous special offers on poster prints prior to the 9 cent offer, and prior to that both had special offers on photo books (40 percent discount). ‘Free delivery when collected in store’ is a heavily-promoted feature of both retailers’ online campaigns.

The pattern seems to be a 10 cent print offer one month, and a 9 cent print offer the next month, with special offers on photo books and canvas or poster prints in the weeks between the cut-price print offers.

It’s a real case of ‘Tweedledee and Tweedledum’: As well as mimicking each other’s price slashing strategies for photo print products, both retailers use the Whitech Imagine online retailing platform, and Fujifilm hosts and claims copyright for both their websites. Both also source products from the Photo Create centre in Glenn Innes.

Interestingly, both websites also carry the Fujifilm ABN on their home pages, rather than their respective company numbers.

‘Biggest ever’ Lumix campaign starts this week

Panasonic has announced a ‘biggest-ever’ Lumix campaign starting this week, with three 30-second TV advertisements simultaneously hitting screens from this Sunday, featuring the Lumix G2, TZ10 and FT2.

The ads will be seen on free to air metro and regional TV stations across Australia, as well as pay TV; backed by targeted magazine and online advertising for each model, and point of sale.

The FT2 will also feature in eye-catching, large-format outdoor locations in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane; and have prominent branding all season at Victorian snowfields. Panasonic says the level of activity is unprecedented for Lumix.

‘You don’t have to be a great photographer to take great photos,’ is the theme for the Lumix G2 Micro Four Thirds camera ads.

Harvey Norman picks up 30 stores, warehousing for $55 mil.

As has been extensively reported over the past week, Harvey Norman has bid $55 million for the majority of Clive Peeters stores still operating.

The deal will also involve some clearance stores and warehousing facilities.

Six stores have already been closed by liqiuidator PPB and the Harvey Norman deal is said to involve around 30 stores, which in raw outlets terms, increases the Harvey Norman empire in Australia by almost 20 percent.

While Harvey Norman hasn’t yet announced what brand the Clive Peeters stores might carry in future, a story in the Bundaberg News Mail says that their local Clive Peeters will become a Joyce Mayne outlet.

The sale is moderately good news for creditors, as it leaves a surplus of around $10 million after the $44 million Clive Peeters owes NAB is subtracted.

In all, trade creditors, which number some big name camera distributors (Sony and Panasonic are both owed in excess of $1 million, according to news reports), are believed to be owed up to $70 million, with close to $50 million lodged at a first creditors meeting in May.

The administrators have persuaded 60 of the 80 key suppliers to continue supply to Clive Peeters outlets.

The deal involved Harvey Norman agreeing to retain the bulk of the Clive Peeters workforce.

I’ll sue less, says Perez

Eastman Kodak boss Antonio Perez says that he intends to wind down the successful experiment of turning the Kodak legal department into a profit centre.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Perez has turned patent infringement litigation into a lucrative sideline and source of cash.

In the past year, Kodak settled lawsuits with Samsung and LG, scoring lump sums of US$550 million and US$400 million, respectively. (Way more than it made actually selling stuff.) In January, it filed lawsuits against Apple and Research in Motion Ltd, alleging their smart phones infringe Kodak’s digital-imaging patents. The litigation and patent fee money is being sunk into its printer business.

‘We need [cash flow from patents] right now because we’re investing too much for the size of the company in these new businesses,’ the WSJ quotes Perez as saying.

Perez says he’ll wean Kodak off the patent fights once the commercial and consumer printer businesses are profitable. ‘We’ll find more value getting into business relationships that generate revenue working with some other partner rather than asking for cash,’ he told the WSJ.

3D Nex big thing

Sony Australia has announced that a new firmware update is now available to enable the new NEX-5 and NEX-3 interchangeable lens digital cameras to take 3D pics.

Available for free download from the Sony Australia website, the update adds several performance enhancements plus 3D Sweep Panorama functionality. Unique to Sony, this feature makes it easy to capture dramatic panoramic images in 3D with an extra-wide field of view.

To experience the 3D Sweep Panorama feature, just press the shutter button and sweep the camera across the scene. The NEX-5 and NEX-3 shoot a high-speed burst of frames that are automatically combined inside the camera to create a stereo pair. Sweep Panorama shots can then be enjoyed in 3D when the camera is connected to a 3D Bravia TV or another compatible 3D TV.

The update also offers other enhancements for the NEX-5 and NEX-3 including:
– Improvements in 2D Sweep Panorama shooting;
– Decreased power drain when the camera is switched off;
– Quicker start-up in low-light conditions.

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