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I3A Promotes Common Picture Exchange Environment (CPXe) Using Web Services

Web Services Enable More Success for Digital Photography Printing Services

Lack of Interoperability Is Making It Difficult for Consumers to Use Digital Photo Services

Stamford, CONN, USA. July 22, 2003.

The photography industry has received a boost by the success of digital cameras. However, there is no common mechanism for transferring digital images or order and commerce information. The photography industry should look at Web services as a solution to help solve interoperability issues around printing services, according to Gartner, Inc.

Margins on digital cameras are slim, with profits coming after the sale from downstream services, such as photo printing and the supply revenue that it generates. Camera companies are trying to lock in those profits by creating their own online directories. Although many camera manufacturers have alliances with online photo services, each brand is technologically inconsistent, and limited interoperability is possible from one brand to another.

"This lack of interoperability has prevented many photo shops and other businesses from cashing in on the digital photo printing opportunity," said David Smith, vice president and Gartner fellow in Gartner Research.

"Many consumers are using their own printers. This may not be the most cost-effective way to output digital prints, and does not appeal to mainstream users, but the longer consumers follow this process, the more comfortable they will become" said David Haueter, principal analyst at Gartner.

Connecting consumers to back-end services can be an integration nightmare, but Web services can ease and lower the cost of this integration. Gartner analysts said that Web services technologies played an instrumental role in an initiative within the International Imaging Industry Association (I3A).

The I3A has launched the Common Picture Exchange Environment (CPXe), which utilizes new Web services-based system architecture and interoperability specifications, and a new online directory of photo services -- Picture Services Network (PSN). The CPXe Initiative Group includes Eastman Kodak Company, Fujifilm, Hewlett-Packard, Konica, Olympus, Silverwire as well as other companies. Gartner analysts said this could lead to one of the most ambitious applications of Web services.

"The I3A's CPXe initiative can create an open environment in which imaging devices can exchange digital images or information, regardless of manufacturer, service provider or geography," Smith said. "This would allow consumers to get quality digital prints from their favorite retailer as conveniently as they can with film, but with the preview advantage of digital."

However, for CPXe to be successful, it must provide clear value and wide availability to the user. It also needs to get other large players that are not involved, such as Sony and Nikon, to participate, and get large retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart and CVS to commit to the program.

CPXe is taking advantage of existing standards, including Web services, for service directory, description, transport and environment. One of the standards includes Universal, Description, Discovery, Integration (UDDI). The use of UDDI is one of the first actual uses of the technology, and it essentially makes a private UDDI accessible to the public for read-only access.

"Web services, such as UDDI, enable businesses to reduce the cost of integration," Smith said. "Companies can benefit from implementing service-oriented architectures to provide a platform for innovation and lessen their need to focus on mundane IT tasks. Companies should begin to evaluate the role UDDI may play in their businesses and should consider becoming active in relevant standards activities, which can help further business goals."

Additional in the Gartner Research Note Digital Photo Opportunities Develop in Web Services. The report provides more detailed analysis on the objectives for the CPXe initiative, and how those objectives can be achieved. This report is available on Gartner's Web site. About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. is a research and advisory firm that helps more than 10,000 clients leverage technology to achieve business success. Gartner's businesses are Research, Consulting, Measurement, Events and Executive Programs. Founded in 1979, Gartner is headquartered in Stamford, Conn., and has more than 3,800 associates, including approximately 1,000 research analysts and consultants, in more than 75 locations worldwide. Revenue for calendar year 2002 totaled $888 million. For more information, visit


Tom McCall
Tel: +1 408 468 8312

See also Digital Photo Opportunities Develop via Web Services, by David Mitchell and David Haueter: 'Kodak is spearheading an effort to produce a digital photography standard and meet consumer demands for easy digital photo printing services. From the report CS-20-0570, companies can learn from its use of Web services and involvement in standards.'

Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive. See: (1) the news story "Systinet to Provide UDDI Solution for PSN Global Directory of Digital Photography Services"; (2) general references in "Common Picture Exchange Environment (CPXe)."

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