Printer firms focus on camera phones

Through the Mobile Imaging and Printing Consortium, HP, Epson and Canon plan to create guidelines for the mobile phone industry to deliver reliable wireless printing options.

Hewlett-Packard, Epson and Canon have started a group to promote standards for printing images taken with the increasingly popular gadget known as the camera phone.

Through the Mobile Imaging and Printing Consortium, announced Thursday, the three printer companies plan to implement guidelines for the mobile phone industry to deliver reliable wireless printing options to consumers by the second half of 2004. Existing connectivity standards will be used, the companies said, including Bluetooth wireless technology, printing from memory cards and PictBridge, a wired technology for linking digital still cameras directly to printers.

Mobile phones with the ability to snap photos have been catching on. The three printer companies cited research from market watcher Strategy Analytics, which says camera phones will account for 55 percent of global handset sales in 2008, up from 15 percent in 2003.

"Whether photos are taken on a camera phone or digital camera, HP recognizes the growing demand for standards that make printing at home simple and convenient," said a statement from Larry Lesley, senior vice president of HP's Consumer Imaging and Printing unit.

HP, Epson and Canon also said they were among the leaders in digital imaging that proposed the PictBridge industry standard.

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