One interesting trend we have seen so far this year is the rise of collaborative photo sharing apps. Unlike typical photo sharing apps like Instagram where users take photos and share them on their existing social networks, these collaborative photo sharing apps allow them to create an album. Their friends can then upload photos into the shared album. To put it plainly, it works as a Dropbox for photos, with options to turn the shared album into a beautiful slideshow or picture collage.
The idea is not new: In 2012, we featured Cooliris, a photo sharing app by venture funded company Cooliris, which allows you to share photos selectively. And just last year at Echelon, one of our alumnus SnapShock exhibited. Based in Hong Kong, SnapShock is mobile app that allows users to broadcast photos live through their mobile phones. When we spoke to SnapShock last May, they had more than 10,000 downloads.
A little less than a year later today, in just a short span of 2 months, we have seen a new wave of collaborative photo sharing app. Here they are:
Pixbento – Super Easy Collaborative Photo Sharing With Friends
Founded by Kelvin Koh and his teammates, Pixbento is a collaborative photo sharing app with your friends. The idea is simple: Create a Pixbento album, and you can invite your friends to join the album and start sharing photo instantly. The albums can be made public or private, and you can view the collages through its web application or through your mobile. During its private beta, Pixbento has managed to get more than 500 user sign ups to test out the app, out of which almost 1,000 photos were seen shared through Pixbento. Earlier this month, Pixbento pitched at our Echelon Singapore Satellite.
Seconds by Cinnamon
Founded by Miku Hirano, Hajime Hotta along with their team, Seconds is the maiden product for Cinnamon. Seconds allows friends and family to share photos in their own private albums through their smartphones. Seconds allow you to post simple stickers and comments to the photos. Seconds pitched at our Echelon Taiwan Satellite. Miku was the founder of Naked Tech, which she grew and exited it to Japan-based Mixi.
Shutterpair is founded by the National University Singapore Overseas College (NOC) alumni Ritesh Angural and Joshua Newman. Shutterpair also allows you to create photo albums where friends can easily share photos in the shared album. In just less than a week since the website is launched, Shutterpair has had more than 1500 photos uploaded onto their mobile app.
So the question is, will it work?
Both SnapShock and Cooliris have been around for more than a year, and we have yet to hear much news from their end. For existing customers, while it can be frustrating to coordinate and collate all the bits and pieces of photos among your friends, this might not be that big a pain point. I cannot recall the last time I wished that there are solutions out there for this pain point.
I do get the value proposition offered by these products though: collate all the photos from my friends during social settings such as going on a ski trip. But how often do I go on trips like this? How often do I get to create shared albums with my group of friends and share my photos with them? User retention might be a challenge.
Eric Koester, the CEO of Zaarly recently also wrote about App – Market Fit which talks about how competitive a mobile app could be. This is simply because you have to compete with other apps for a piece of real estate on the homescreens of smartphones. “Unless you can build a mobile app that your users will and are consistently putting on their homescreen, I don’t think you have App-Market Fit”. That is one great read and another reason why user retention might be a tough challenge for collaborative photo sharing apps.
“Smart phones are inherently an extension of the owner. My apps are personal to me, but I do think it is common that we spend 90% of our time with 5-10% of our apps. And as you think about your app, figure out how to make something your community and your audience love. If you build and market something mainstream, you’ll find yourself in the app graveyard and then you’ve got a bunch of downloads and an inactive community.”
Of course, I am confident that all these apps will be able to curate and grow their community of loyal users. However, I am just not sure if this vertical has what it takes to be the next big thing. Most users have consolidated among photo sharing apps such as Instagram, and new messaging apps such as LINE and WeChat which has hundred millions of users do offer photo sharing options. If this category of photo sharing functions are to get some traction, what is there to stop them or companies like Dropbox from launching a collaborative photo sharing feature in their mobile app, if they have not already done so?
It might be a steep uphill battle for these collaborative photo sharing apps to get a sizable following. If I have to put my money in either one of these three companies, I would say Seconds would have a higher chance of traction, simply because the founders have had experience building and growing its company. Seconds is also venture backed and is already actively working towards growing its regional reach.
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