RealTime IT News

Wal-Mart to Online Customers: Say Cheese

If you want to fool around with online pictures, but don't want to plunk down a couple of hundred bucks for a digital camera, Wal-Mart has a deal for you -- a new disposable camera that includes Wal-Mart's Pictures Online service as part of the price.

And the price would appear to be within the range of almost all those in Wal-Mart's customer demographic - $6.84, including the online service, which the company said is a $2.74 value.

The cameras are being offered at real world Wal-Mart stores nationwide, as well as at

The company said that the disposable 35 mm cameras are "tagged" so when a camera is dropped off at Wal-Mart, the pictures are automatically uploaded to the Photo Center. Customers will be able to take pictures with special camera, return it to their local Wal-Mart for developing and have their pictures posted -- securely -- at the Photo Center for sharing and printing.

The company cited data from analyst group IDC saying that prints from digital images will grow 261 percent from 2001 to 2004. Wal-Mart claims that more people develop their photos at Wal-Mart than at any other retailer in the country and the company is clearly hoping to keep it that way.

Competitors such as, recently acquired by Kodak, offer a similar service, but customers have to mail the film. The company then puts the pictures online and sends the negatives back. Yahoo has a similar service in conjunction with Shutterfly, which also handles a digital photo service for the Best Buy stores and has a deal with Dell Computer.

Wal-Mart no doubt is betting on bricks and clicks, hoping that the frequency of its in-store customer visits will go up, enhancing cross-sell and impulse buy opportunities.