August 15, 2005

Two recent pieces by writer Joe Bolger in the London Times look at Photo-Me. One, an analysis titled “Brand needs more exposure,” states that the Photo-Me brand, whose “French brand name Photomaton has practically become the generic name for automatic photo booths,” has not succeeded in making Photo-Me a “strong ingredient brand” along the lines of Kodak. Included in the article are ratings given to Photo-Me by FutureBrand, the global brand consulting company, the highest of which was a nine out of ten for both “Innovation” and “Pricing power,” with the lowest, a four out of ten, coming for “Investment returns.”

In the second article, a description of the history of Photo-Me titled “Company working hard to erase image of its not-so-rosy history,” Bolger looks back at the somewhat tumultuous recent history of Photo-Me. Some mis-steps in the switch to digital and some questionable business decisions led to a fall in profits a few years ago. The article concludes with a brief history of the company and its acquisitions:

Photo-Me traces its creation back to 1958, 12 years after the first photo booth was developed. In 1962 it floated on the stock market as Photo-Me International. After its acquisition of KIS, the group went on to buy, in 1998, its rivals Prontophot and Photomaton.

Bolger seems to imply that that the first photobooth was developed in 1946, twenty years after they were first introduced, but the history of the Photo-Me lineage is an interesting story.

One Comment

  1. 1

    I thought the word “Photomaton” was used to describe a Photobooth years before the company ever existed? (or was that your point?)

    In Bolger’s defense I’d say he simply didn’t bother questioning the official information Photo-Me gave him. They claim the first photobooth was invented in 1946. He can’t really be expected to research beyond that to find out that they’re wrong.

    Granted the idea that it was invented in 1946 is clearly absurd even to people who don’t know anything about photobooths (you only need to know a little history).

    I thought I’d also seen them claim to have been the inventor of the photobooth, despite their company clearly not existing until way too late for that to be the case. That I can’t verify on their website though, so I may be wrong.

    They must be making some distinction between different levels of automation (I’m guessing they were the first to make something that could be setup, left alone, and periodically returned to to maintain). Still, it’s their own distinction — not necessarily one someone who didn’t own shares would agree with.