Photo Sharing vs. Photo Consumption
Taking and sharing photos is now a basic social interaction, enabled by the fact that you have a mobile camera in your pocket all the time. A new generation of mobile photo sharing apps like Picplz, Path and Instagr.am have been receiving significant attention during the last couple of weeks, and for good reason. They have changed the process of photo sharing into one that takes a very minimal amount of time and just a few clicks.
This basic social interaction can more accurately be broken down into four actions. The first three – capturing, sharing, and editing – have been addressed in the popular rhetoric around this emerging trend much more frequently than the fourth and final step – consumption. New opportunities are, or will be, emerging around these four actions at unprecedented levels. After the proliferation of photo broadcasting activity, photo consumption is the next big thing and lots of companies will emerge in this space. With the products that we are about to launch in January 2011, Pixable is positioned at the center of the next wave of photo consumption.
The iPhone, or practically any mobile phone, has become the de-facto point and shoot camera. 60% of the world population has a mobile phone, and of these phones 90-95% of them have a camera. So literally more than half of the world has a camera at the ready, creating an exponential number of opportunities for capturing moments. Additionally, these photos can be given immediate context with the possibility to tag people and places. A plethora of new opportunities are enabled by these new, always-on mobile devices and services.
Photorocket and Min.us make it easy to share photos from the computer. Instagr.am, path, picplz and other new apps make it quick and easy to share on the go from the iPhone (or Android devices). Taking and sharing photos are not disjointed actions anymore, as Raj Kapoor says, and these new applications are further merging them into one. When you take a picture, you want to share it right away (maybe with some basic edits) with the least number of clicks and to the people you want. The fact that more than 3 billion photos are uploaded to Facebook every month, and a growing number of them are coming from mobile uploads is clear proof.
3. EDITING (or doing something else with those photos):
The truth is that once photos are on Facebook you cannot do much with them. Instagr.am, Picplz, or Hipstamatic are good options for basic editing photos on the phone before sharing (like filters or cropping); or Picnik or Aviary after you share the photo. At Pixable, so far we have focused more on advanced editing for aggregated content and within the scope of product creation. For example we allow you to combine photos from any photo repository, and add special effects within Videos or color filters and cropping within Photo Books.
This problem is still young and not many people realize they have it. A lot of companies are focused on push, from mobile to other repositories, but not on pull – how to aggregate all these photos – to simply browse, search or discover them. Google images allows you to search photos from random sources; but the intersection of all the online photos with your social graph plus the aggregation of various repositories (Facebook, Flickr, Plixi) is what can bring a new revolution. This is a natural evolution of any Internet vertical, in the same way that Mint aggregates and filters personal online financial content, Yipit aggregates daily deals, Flipboard or Paper.li aggregate links to articles, or Hulu aggregates television shows.
I am surprised that there isn’t a lot of activity related to consumption. The more photo sharing companies pop up, the more difficult it is to find a way to consume all those photos from a single place: to browse, search, discover, organize, or enjoy, and then maybe create something out of them. Even browsing or searching photos on Facebook is difficult. If you have, for example, 200 Facebook friends, each with 500 photos, you already have access to 100,000 photos. Add photos of friends from Twitpic, Plixi (formerly Tweetphoto), Flickr, Picasa, Path, Instagr.am, Smugmug, Dailybooth, and Photobucket. You realize that you have a problem if you want to browse them (based on location, people, events, popularity, time), and an even greater problem if you want to do something with them. And this problem only grows over time. I am not talking about the 50 billion plus photos on Facebook, 6 billion on Picasa or 5 billion on Flickr. What I am actually referring to is the hundreds of thousands of photos in your social graph: the ones that matter to you, the ones you want to browse.