SUNNYVALE, CA, Aug. 9, 2000 - SanDisk Corporation (NASDAQ:SNDK) and Photo-Me International (PMI) (PHTM.L) today announced that they have formed a joint venture which will allow millions of digital camera owners to obtain digital prints easily, quickly, and inexpensively without the necessity of a personal computer or a high quality printer. The new joint venture, called Digital Portal Inc. (DPI), will manufacture kiosks (self vending digital photo labs) and place them for consumer use in North America and other regions of the world. The two companies believe that the joint venture will give consumers low cost, high quality photo prints of digitally captured images and thereby enhance significantly the instant gratification that digital photography offers. It also will simplify the digital camera experience for users by expanding the options available for printing digital images. Deployment of the kiosks, which will bear the SanDisk name, is expected to start by the end of this year.
The kiosks will be the world's first silver halide process self service kiosks. The kiosks will enable digital camera owners to quickly, conveniently and inexpensively obtain prints by inserting their digital film flash memory cards, floppy disks or CD ROMs into the kiosks. Consumers also will be able to upload their personal files of digital pictures either from the kiosk or from their home PC to the DPI Internet site where the photos can be accessed by friends and relatives. An individual in New York City, for example, could upload pictures of a family celebration to the DPI web site and a relative in San Francisco could visit his local kiosk, download the file under a unique user pass key and select what pictures to print while he or she waits.
Eli Harari, President and CEO of SanDisk, said, "This joint venture represents a major step forward in popularizing digital photography, and is very good news to consumers, digital camera manufacturers and flash memory card suppliers. Through this joint venture with Photo Me, SanDisk is helping to create for digital camera users a photo print experience that is more satisfying and exciting than their current experience with regular photography. We are very fortunate to be in this strategic and exclusive partnership with Photo-Me, the worldwide market leader in digital photo printing technology. It is our hope that the activities of the joint venture will further increase SanDisk's presence in the retail channel and enhance SanDisk's brand name as the global market leader for flash memory cards."
Serge Crasnianski, chief executive officer of PMI, said, "We believe that the two companies have the desire and experience to bring digital photography to the millions of people who haven't yet used a digital camera. SanDisk is the world's largest supplier of flash memory cards and Photo-Me is the world's largest producer of photo kiosk machines for consumers. The digital photography market has barely started, and we expect that Digital Portal will play a major role in accelerating the sale of digital cameras and flash memory cards."
The kiosks bring five critical elements: First, superb photo quality, made possible by the PMI patented LCD Booster technology, which provides a picture resolution of 15 million pixels, far in excess of the resolution of any digital camera. Second, high quality silver halide processing, the same process as used in 1 hour print services. Third, a simple, interactive and user friendly interface which will personalize the print selection process in a way not possible with over the counter 1 hour photo printing services. Fourth, a price per print matching that of 1 hour prints today while outputting the first 4 x 6 print in less than three minutes and with an additional fifteen seconds for each subsequent print. Fifth, web connectivity to allow the user to share the digital photo experience.
It is expected that the new venture will increase the sale of flash memory cards because the kiosks will be deployed in many locations where SanDisk memory cards can be purchased. The kiosks also will enable SanDisk to engage in cross-promotional activities at retail outlets.
SanDisk and PMI will each make an initial investment of $4 million and secure lease financing for purchasing of the kiosks. PMI will manufacture the kiosks for the joint venture, and will install and maintain the kiosks under contract from the joint venture. Each company will own 50 percent of DPI. The joint venture will be headquartered in Sunnyvale, California. Further details about the kiosks and DPI will be announced at the Photokina trade show in Cologne, Germany, Sept. 20 - 25, along with details on the first major retailers who will place the kiosks in their stores in early 2001. The kiosks will be demonstrated at the show where both SanDisk and PMI will have booths.
Both companies anticipate that the kiosks, once widely deployed, will quickly become popular because they will accept virtually any storage media used in digital cameras today including CompactFlashÔ and SmartMedia cards, MultiMediaCards, Secure Digital cards, the Memory Stick, floppy disks and CD ROMs.
SanDisk Corporation, the world's largest supplier of flash data storage products, designs, manufactures and markets industry-standard, solid-state data, digital imaging and audio storage products using its patented, high density flash memory and controller technology. SanDisk is based in Sunnyvale, CA.
The matters discussed in this news release contain forward looking statements that are subject to certain risks and uncertainties as described under the caption "Factors That May Affect Future Results" in the company's annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company assumes no obligation to update the information in this release.
CompactFlash is a trademark of SanDisk Corp.