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February 26, 2006 - Seeking to set itself apart in a crowded field of camera competitors, Casio announced at PMA on Sunday that it has licensed the name of one of the world’s most popular websites and introduced an "eBay Best Shot Mode" on its latest EXILIM digital camera models.
The feature, which when engaged downsamples large image files to make them suitable for posting on eBay, appears on three new models in the Casio EXILIM digital camera line – the EX-Z60, EX-Z600 and EX-Z850. The EX-Z60 and EX-Z600 are 6 MP cameras and the EX-Z600 is an 8 MP model.
The eBay Best Shot Mode will downsample images captured at the full resolution to 2 MP to make them easier to upload and post on eBay.
In announcing the exclusive licensing agreement at a press conference in Orlando on Sunday, Bill Heuer, senior vice president of the Digital Imaging Division for Casio, called the new models the "first cameras in the market that have a setting that optimizes photos for eBay."
"There’s no cropping that’s necessary," Heuer said. "The eBay Best Shot mode also includes an Auto Macro feature that makes it as easy to capture a coin as it is to capture a car."
The Auto Macro feature is designed to capture detail in small items such as jewelry and tags in close up shots, according to Casio press material.
While Heuer did not reveal how much it has paid eBay for licensing its brand, a senior official at eBay said the agreement allowed Casio to have exclusive use of the brand in its cameras for one year.
"The eBay Best Shot Mode will allow sellers to spend less time manipulating their photos and more time selling their items on eBay," said Karl Wiley, senior director of Technology and Media Categories for eBay.
The eBay Best Shot mode appears as one of over 30 different shooting modes in the new EXILIM cameras. According to Heuer, the new mode "differentiates ourselves from our competitors…and leverages our big LCDs."
He noted that the mode is designed to be very basic and easy for consumers to understand.
"With our cameras, we’re giving the consumer very large image sizes for very good reasons but in reality, when you try to post those images you need to find an easier way to do it," he said. "There’s no reason consumers should feel intimidated to load their images to eBay and other websites."
To market the new mode, Casio is launching a separate website to explain the eBay feature in more detail. While the new mode is only available in Casio’s North American models, the company is "still evaluating" whether to bring it to other parts of the world, Heuer said.
While Casio’s camera cradles allow users to upload their digital images directly to their computers by pressing a button, Heuer said there were currently no plans to include a program in the software that would take users directly to eBay’s website after they use the new eBay Best Shot mode.
In describing the new feature, Heuer hinted at a basic dilemma many manufacturers are facing in a competitive field that has seen big names such as Konica Minolta drop out of the digital camera market altogether in recent months.
"We need to give consumers a reason to buy new cameras and eBay is a very good reason for customers to do just that."