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IBM Inks Fuji eServer Deal

IBM has inked a multi-million dollar pact to install Intel-based servers to power in-store kiosks and photo lab systems for digital photography firm Fuji .

Big Blue's announced its eServer systems and PCs would be installed in thousands of Fujifilm's Frontier Digital Labs throughout the United States to enable the delivery of a wide range of photographic, digital and online services.

Each Fuji frontier would use an IBM eServer x220 running Microsoft Windows 2000. In addition, IBM's Global Services division gets to provide the hardware, engineering and integration of the components that allow the Frontier to be connected to a retailer's computer network.

Once the installations are complete, the IBM eServer x220 would allow the Digital Lab Systems to accept multiple input sources -- film, prints, slides, negatives or digital media - and output them to Fujicolor CDs, floppy disks and Zip drives. IBM said the Frontier Digital Lab Systems also be used to upload images to Fuji's Web site.

Fujifilm will also purchase IBM NetVista M41 PCs for its Aladdin Digital Photo Center.

With an upsurge in the use of digital cameras in the U.S., IBM said the deal clears the way for its eServer technology to be extended to the consumer sector.

IBM, which competes with Dell Computer and Hewlett-Packard in the Intel server market, said the Fuji client win would accelerate its push into the e-business industry.

In the deal with Fuji, IBM is installing two types of photofinishing equipment into retail stores: Fujifilm's Frontier Digital Lab System, described as a full-service digital mini-lab offering a complete range of photographic, digital and online services; and the Aladdin Digital Photo Center, a self-service imaging kiosk.

Fuji's Frontier Digital Lab Systems are already plugged into blue chip retailers like Costco, Eckerd Drugs, Walgreens and Wal-Mart.