In a week when Harvey Norman is offering unlimited Fujifilm 8 cent prints, Fujifilm has announced yet another punishing ‘worldwide price revision’ of its photographic papers ‘of at least double digit percent’. (Which is alarming – does this mean the increase could be into the triple digits? Surely just a badly-worded press release.)
‘Under the circumstances of declining demand for photographic papers, Fujifilm has been working on productivity improvement and cost reduction to absorb the rising expense ratio in order to ensure stable supply of premium-quality photographic papers to the market,’ states the press release. It goes on to say that they are going to increase prices anyway.
It will hit ‘from October onwards’ and apply to all of Fujifilm’s photographic papers.
‘Details of the respective countries regarding the timing and the rate of price increase will be determined in consideration of factors specific to the markets.’
NOTE: We asked Fujifilm Australia to clarify the scale of the paper price rise and to comment on the lack of paper product choice for Australian retailers (see below) but have not received a response.
COMMENT: – But what if it wasn’t all about falling demand and increasing costs? What if it were simply that silver halide paper is now in the ‘cash cow’ stage of its long and venerable product life cycle? A cash cow, according to the Boston Consulting Group, is a product with high market share and low growth rates. The are usually at the end of their life cycle: ‘Cash cows don’t need the same level of support as before. This is due to less competitive pressures with a low growth market and they usually enjoy a dominant position that has been generated from economies of scale. Cash cows are still generating a significant level of income but not costing the organisation much to maintain. These products can be “milked” to fund Star (high market share, high growth rates) products.’
Fujifilm isn’t giving much in the way of marketing or technical support to photo specialists, and the extra revenue gained from, frankly, charging specialist retailers as high a price as the market will bear, is channelled into other parts of the business. (Could you be cross-subsidising Big W’s paper purchases?)
But in Fujifilm’s case it is also hastening the end of the working life of all those hugely expensive Frontier minilabs still out there. Another few increases of this kind and the shrinking differential between AgX printing costs and inkjet – one of the few arguments in favour of not upgrading to dry equipment – will be eliminated.
Australian Fujifilm customers are particularly ill-served by their supplier. As well as regular and crippling price rises, Fujifilm-based printers have to deal with eight-cent print competition from Fujifilm’s preferred mass merchant customers (this doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world), and no support to photo specialists of the kind one witnesses from Fujifilm UK and USA.
Fujifilm Australia is also denying local specialists the kind of choices which better allow them to define their speciality. In Australia, there are two choices of Fujifilm silver halide paper – Crystal Archive Paper Type II, and Crystal Archive Professional.
In the UK, by contrast, Fujifilm customers can choose between:
Crystal Archive (CA) Album Paper
CA Album Paper HD
CA Album Paper DPII
CA Digital Pearl
CA Supreme High Definition
CA Digital Type DPII
In Australia, only Kodak’s authorised distributor, Independent Photo (IPS) makes a specialist range of papers available.