Requiem for Photoshop Touch: an app users loved or hated

Adobe Touch

— by Hans Hartman

Adobe Photoshop TouchAdobe announced here that it will discontinue Photoshop Touch, its comprehensive photo editing app, as part of a strategy to release apps with narrower use cases, such as Photoshop Mix (compositing), Photoshop Sketch (drawing), Adobe Shape (bitmap-to-vector conversion), and the soon-to-be-released Rigel, for retouching.

Customer Feedback
Let’s look at what Photoshop Touch users thought of the app. We did a qualitative analysis of 125 iTunes reviews in March of 2013, back in the heydays of Photoshop Touch for iPad (the iPhone and Android versions came out later), as part of an analysis of the potential for tablet-specific photo apps (although dated, there might still be valuable takeaways in the white paper; you can download it here).

Three things stood out:

  • Photoshop Touch’s overall user ratings were low (3.5), as was the case for some other well-known and not “mobile-first” brands that struggled to make their mark in the app world (Shutterfly for iPad was even lower, at 2.5).
    Photoshop-Touch
  • “Features” were an important factor as to why some liked Photoshop Touch and others didn’t. They liked the features because there were so many of them – not unlike Photoshop on the desktop. They didn’t like the features because they were hard to master and, most importantly, because retina support was missing at the time. Telling for the perceived complexity of the app was that quite a few reviews blamed Adobe’s tutorials for their struggles, e.g. “The app is fantastic if you know how to use it. But if you do not and try to follow the tutorials, you will just end up confused and frustrated. Please improve the tutorials.”touch postive
  • As one of the highest priced photo apps ($9.99), price was actually an important reason why they liked the app, summarized as e.g. “Are you KIDDING me? I can hardly believe all I can accomplish in this one app. And, seriously, it’s TEN DOLLARS people. The desktop version is SIX HUNDRED.”

 

Justifiable Strategy
The last point is one that Adobe is not highlighting in its discontinuation announcement. With a slew of excellent, multi-faceted photo editing apps on the market – many of them free and virtually all priced less than $10 – Adobe was simply not in a position to raise its Photoshop Touch price anywhere near enough to that of its desktop program to mitigate cannibalization from the mobile app with many of the same features.

From Adobe’s perspective, the discontinuation of Photoshop Touch and release of single use case apps makes a lot of sense. With its Creative Cloud service in place, Adobe can now offer narrower use case apps, allowing its customers to access their images and continue working on them in different single use case apps and even on different devices.

In addition, Adobe can now afford to offer these apps for free and attract new users to its 25-year-old Photoshop franchise, making the connecting glue – an upsell to a Creative Cloud subscription – the real winner, while killing any cannibalization in the interim.

Hans Hartman is president of Suite 48 Analytics and co-host of the Mobile Photo Connect conference.

 

 

Interesting ad approach: Olympus will “cure DSL-ARM”

olympus slr arm

olympus slr arm

in an effort to promote the size and weight benefits of its smaller interchangeable lens cameras, Olympus is lampooning a poor enthusiast picture-taker whose arm has stretched grotesquely due to his SLR’s weight.

“Many people living with DSL-ARM are suffering silently,” the video proclaims, “unaware that there’s a cure… DSL-ARM can only be cured with a smaller, lighter camera. …You’ll get all the power of a DSLR without all the size. Don’t you think you’ve suffered long enough?… Let the healing begin.”

What do you think — a good approach to marketing the completive differences in ILCs?

Here’s the video.

Mobile imaging merger: iON and Contour  

ion air 3

Two makers of wearable and mountable action cams are teaming up: iON Cameras and Contour announced the two companies will merge.

“The combined organization will offer broadest range of cutting-edge POV and wearable cameras,”iON says, “with combined global distribution in over 10,000 storefronts in 40 countries.”

Contour brings “many critical patents,” and iON adds “expertise in engineering and manufacturing… and significant North American retail distribution.”

iON CEO Giovanni Tomaselli will serve as the new company’s CEO. Contour CEO James Harrison will assume the role of president.

Both brands will continue, as will most of the complementary product lines of security cams, dash cams, wearable models, and action cameras.

Take a Selfie for Mom

mother selfie NYT

mother selfie NYT

They may often be derided as narcissistic, or simply bad photos — but I think selfies are a very important part of photography today. They get everyone more involved in taking pictures of important or meaningful events, and a shot with yourself in it is a much better memory trigger of, say, that camping trip you took 5 years ago then yet another landscape picture with no one recognizable in it…

In recognition of Mothers Day, the New York Times published an interesting article with another reason for taking a selfie: to capture an image with that family memory keeper who is often behind the camera instead of in front of it.

“After my mom died, the funeral home said that we needed photos to make a memory board,” the article begins. “Mom did take a lot of photos over the course of my two sisters’ and my lifetimes… But while I found plenty of photos of myself that I had forgotten existed, I found relatively few of my mother either by herself or with me. It was then that I realized that she had been behind the camera for so many of the photos I had treasured over the years…

“I realized then that I was not going to repeat this pattern. When my daughter was born just a few months later, I began to take photos of us together. It did help that we had a digital camera and thus clicks were cheap and instantly rewarded. I not only wanted to capture my daughter’s life, but also our life together.”

Here is the full article.

Photo Cloud services, Watch out – Flickr is on a roll

flickr logo

— by Hans Hartman

new flickrIt took a while and a few false starts, but Flickr has not only caught up with the leading photo storage and syncing providers — they’ve actually steamed ahead and left others in the dust (for now) with the release of ambitious new photo organizing and syncing features, as well as an overhauled user interface for its website, apps and desktop software.

Flickr now fully syncs the user’s photos and videos across devices, auto-uploads them from smartphones, features a timeline browsing interface, automatically tags and categorizes photos by image content, and enables users to search for photos and retrieve them thanks to Flickr’s advanced image recognition technology.

That’s quite a bit. And all for free with one terabyte of cloud storage.

If I were Apple, Dropbox, Lyve, Mylio, or any other vendor in the photo syncing/storage space, I’d be concerned.

As we discussed last year at Mobile Photo Connect, deep learning-based image recognition technology is a promising approach to solving the consumer photo-organizing problem. All major photo storage and/or syncing vendors have either acquired image recognition startups or are working on building image recognition technology in-house. A few, notably Google+ Photos and Microsoft OneDrive, have already released image recognition features to their end users.

Flickr, leveraging the expertise brought in-house from several image recognition startup acquisitions, has now joined this exclusive club.

So, going forward what does this mean for Flickr? For eleven years the company has been a photo publishing and photo browsing platform focused on the advanced hobbyist. Now it has a real chance of becoming a major “any device” consumer photo organizing and storage platform.

However, just offering one terabyte of free storage two years ago apparently didn’t do the trick.
– Consumers want to be able to find the photos that matter with close to zero effort.
– Consumers want any-device access to their photos with close to zero effort.
– Consumers want photo backup with close to zero effort.

Flickr is now offering all of that. Probably not all perfectly yet, but they’re certainly focused on pushing the envelope.

What about those who don’t trust the cloud or feel they can’t rely on any one storage vendor to be around for decades to come? Flickr now enables users to bulk-download thousands of their photos in a single zip file – assuming they have a big enough hard drive to download them on!

You can hear more about Flickr’s strategic objectives from Rajiv Vaidyanathan, Flickr Head of Products, at Mobile Photo Connect, September 29 in San Francisco.

 

hans hartmanHans Hartman is president of Suite 48 Analytics, and co-host of the Mobile Photo Connect conference.

PMA CEO Georgia McCabe responds to Bloomberg Business “Fastest-Fading Business” article

GM-09-CA2_0136
GM-09-CA2_0136

PMA CEO Georgia McCabe

It is interesting that on April 30, Bloomberg Business posted an article entitled Twilight of One-Hour Photo, America’s Fastest-Fading Business. Of course, those of us who live in the photo business know that far from being, dead, consumers today are taking more pictures than ever before. In fact, just last year consumers captured and shared more than 10 times the number of personal images than were taken at the peak of the analog photo business, back in the early 1990s. Clearly the consumer’s “love for photography” today is stronger than ever. Personally, I believe that the opportunities in photo are actually greater now than they were back in the late 1800s, when George Eastman first evangelized photography to the mass market. Eastman had to educate the consumer about the value of personal photography. Today, that is a given – and photography pervades all aspects of everyday life. Posted personal images are by far the largest source of traffic in the exploding world of social media. Our challenge is to make it possible for consumers to enjoy connected photography and at the same time, preserve and celebrate their special images with a wide variety of exciting digital photo output products. The problem has been that while many of the new players in digital photography understand the tremendous appeal of personal imaging, they often have little knowledge or concern for the responsibility of capturing and storing those most important moments of everyday life. That is what real consumer photography is all about.

But don’t just take my word for it; here are excerpts resulting from discussions with knowledgeable imaging industry analysts.

Hans Hartman, President of Suite 48 Analytics and Chair of Mobile Photo Connect, sums it up rather succinctly:

hansheadshot 081712original

Hans Hartman

Really it’s quite simple:

  • Thanks to smartphones…people take more photos than ever before
  • Thanks to smartphones…people are engaged in photography at an earlier age than ever before
  • When offered innovative photo products and easy apps, smartphone photographers often order photo products. Major photo retailers, such as Shutterfly and Walgreens in the US, and CeWe and Photobox in Europe, all report double digit percentages of their orders coming from…smartphone users!

Frank Baillargeon, President of F/22 Consultants offers his own unique take:

Frank Baillargeon

Frank Baillargeon

We are living at a time during which mass market photography has gone from the occasional (8-10 times per year) purchase of a roll of film and a bag of prints, for those with the means, to an ever-present part of the lives of virtually every adult on the planet. Photo is central to the business models of the new titans of enterprise (Facebook, Google, Apple, Yahoo, Microsoft, Amazon, etc.). As consumers, we capture with ease and no cost, share instantly with family and friends, edit creatively as we choose, (increasingly and most importantly) save and organize our precious images in the cloud to enable us to create and order fabulous new products from online retailers, and, yes, from tens of thousands of traditional brick and mortar photo retailers as well.

And then there is this statement, from Vint Cerf, Google VP and “father of the internet” (really!):

Vint Cerf of Google

Vint Cerf of Google

Our life, our memories, our most cherished family photographs increasingly exist as bits of

information – on our hard drives or in ‘the cloud.’ But as technology moves on, they risk being lost in the wake of an accelerating digital revolution.

I worry a great deal about that, you and I are experiencing things like this. Old formats of documents that we’ve created or presentations may not be readable by the latest version of the software because backwards compatibility is not always guaranteed.

And so what can happen over time is that even if we accumulate vast archives of digital content, we may not actually know what it is or where to find it.

Photo printing is far from dead. It is staging an exciting rebirth, born on crests of both product and manufacturing innovation, advances in mobile technology, and software innovations that connect us instantly and intuitively with create and order capabilities directly from our connected devices to product solutions from scores of retailers, both online and in-store. Simply stated – printed photo output matters to all of us. Not the bag of prints that were our only way to preserve and share, but exciting and valuable new products that tell and preserve our stories in a richer, more personalized fashion. The end of film processing is hardly the end of the photo output story. It was simply an important chapter in the continuing effort to preserve and share what’s most important to all of us.

As Mark Twain so aptly said, “the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Those of us who have spent our careers in photography refuse to break our sacred pact with the consumer…this is a challenge that we at PMA understand well, and intend to continue to make good on.

Georgia McCabe

CEO, PMA

PMA’s new National Photo Month site offers free promotional materials, photo contest and much more

NationalPhotoMonth_FINAL-04

NationalPhotoMonth_FINAL-04We have some exciting news to share. We have launched a compelling new website to promote May, which is, of course, National Photo Month!

At this site, natlphotomonth.org, you will find a constantly-growing supply of free tools, marketing tips, and downloadable marketing content for you to use to promote your business all throughout the month. They include National Photo Month logos, customizable posters and signs, and ready-to-use photo tweets and social media posts. (While this is a US-based campaign, there are  also tools here that can be used to inspire photo consumers worldwide, and to promote photography year-round.)

In addition, the site offers a wealth of information for your customers, and a photo contest with very valuable prize packages – people can enter at either the professional or hobbyist level.

There are many prize packages, including the Grand Prize in the professional category: an Apple iPhone 6 Plus, a Fujifilm X-T1 Mirrorless ILC, and a Focus Pyramid Autofocus Lens Calibration Tool. The Grand Prize in the consumer category includes: an Apple MacBook Pro 13″ – Core i5, 4GB RAM, 500GB HD; a Canon Rebel T6i DSLR; a Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro lens; and a 20×30 Canvas Certificate from MailPix.com.

There are many, many other impressive prizes, too. We’d like to offer a big thank you to our wonderful contributors, who have donated very generously to support the contest and the website. The growing list includes:

  • Collages.net
  • Creative Live
  • Design Frames
  • Fujifilm
  • Fullerton Photo
  • GoPro
  • H&H Color Lab
  • Cristina Photography Tools
  • LumiQuest
  • Macphun
  • MailPix
  • Nationwide Studios
  • Nikon
  • Panasonic
  • Precision Camera
  • Sony
  • Sunpak
  • SYNC
  • Tamron
  • Teddy Bear Portraits
  • ToCAD
  • WinkFlash

We encourage you to join with us, and all of our sponsors, in promoting photography, your business, and National Photo Month! Be sure to come back to the site often, and encourage your customers to do so too, because new resources are being added all the time. Also, be sure to visit and like our new Celebrate Photos Facebook page.

Hashtags:

#celebratephotos

#nationalphotomonth

No signs of Selfies slowing

hans selfie

hans selfie

They’re not splashed all over the media as much anymore — but everyday people are still snappin’ plenty of selfies.

In fact, “selfies continue to gain popularity among all age groups and have become an ingrained use case for how today’s smartphone photographers retain and share their visual memories,” Suite 48 Analytics reports.

The research firm surveyed 1,021 North American smartphone photographers to determine their selfie taking, enhancing and sharing habits on handheld smartphones, smartphones attached to selfie-sticks, action cams, drones, and digital cameras.

The study found that taking selfies is a widespread phenomenon among all age groups: 84% of the respondents took at least one selfie with their smartphone in the last 30 days. Tellingly, taking selfies was similarly broad across age groups: 88% among respondents under 25, 83% among 25+ respondents, and 80% among 35+ respondents.

However, age was found to have a significant impact on how frequently smartphone photographers take selfies. Those under 25 take more than twice as many selfies with their smartphone as do those who are 25 or older.

Most tellingly: the study’s respondents report they’re actually taking more of them than they did as recently as six months ago. This increase is most prominent among the younger respondents.

The full report, “The Selfies – A Maturing Use Case study” is available here.

selfies study

Use Twitter to attract new customers for National Photography Month

Bernard Perrine is the CEO of Twitter marketing company SocialCentiv
Bernard Perrine is the CEO of Twitter marketing company SocialCentiv

Bernard Perrine is the CEO of Twitter marketing company SocialCentiv

Business Success Logo

May is National Photography Month. Since receiving that designation from Congress in 1987, it has been marked with festivals, photo contests and other celebrations nationwide.

Of course, the business of photography looks much different today than it did in 1987. After decades of growth, the camera market spiked late in the last decade and has been contracting by double-digit amounts every year since.

Some in the industry blame this fall-off on the emergence of the smartphone, some on yet other factors. Regardless of what is causing the problem, it is imperative that photo retailers, professional photographers and others in the field use events like National Photography Month to remind consumers about the fun and the benefits that cameras can bring to their lives.

Ironically, one of the best avenues for using the beauty and power of pictures to generate photography-related business is a social media network that originally was a text-based medium: Twitter.

By limiting users’ posts to 140 characters, Twitter has perfected what’s known as “intent-based marketing,” meaning delivering advertising messages to consumers who have expressed an interest in a product or service.

Consumers use Twitter to express their thoughts and feelings in real time, something no other social media outlet delivers to marketers. People announce on Twitter that they are getting married, having children and a host of other important life events that can create business for people in the photo business.

Listen and engage

While Twitter represents a vast marketing opportunity, it can be intimidating for the uninitiated. Some 288 million monthly active users send out 500 million-plus Tweets daily.

Understanding the difference between how people use the service compared to other social media and search engines is the first step in sifting Twitter for business.

Twitter is all about conversation. A user who is announcing that her boyfriend had proposed might Tweet, “I am getting married!” But that same woman could use different language in employing, say, a search engine, where she might use a phrase such as “marriage photographers in Dallas.”

Finding business opportunities like this on Twitter entails monitoring what people are talking about – a process called “social listening” – and then moving quickly when good fortune arises.

An important element of a good listening effort is choosing the best “keywords” for a given business. Keywords are words and phrases that marketers seek in Tweets.

For instance, two of the most commonly used phrases on Twitter are “I want” and “I need.” Easy tricks can help narrow the list of Tweets to a geographic area. Searching Twitter for the keywords “I need photographer near: Dallas” provides a list of people in that Texas city who may require a studio’s services.

After picking keywords, the next step is gently joining the conversation that the person who could turn into a customer is having.

The “engagement mechanism” a marketer uses could simply involve sending a Tweet to the individual with a message that is relevant to what he or she is talking about.

For instance, if a Dallas resident announced her engagement on Twitter, a photo studio could reply with an offer of a 10-percent discount on its services for her wedding.

That discount offer is what’s known as a “call to action” – a reason for the bride-to-be to act immediately. Any outreach a business does on Twitter needs a strong call to action, because opportunities – in the forms of weddings, births or bar mitzvahs – can pass quickly.

To better catch a Twitter user’s eye, it always helps to include some of the photos one’s business works so hard to produce.

One study of Tweets by news organizations, for instance, found that adding a picture increased the percentage of Retweets by 27 percent.

While it’s important to know what steps to take in conducting a successful advertising campaign on Twitter, sometimes the best move is the one that a marketer does not make.

In this regard, it is best to avoid the use of software known as “auto-responders” to Tweets. Always have a human examine Tweets for relevance before replying to them.

After all, there is a big difference between a Tweet that proclaims, “The photographer took some sick photos at our wedding,” versus one that says, “The photographer took photos of someone getting sick at our wedding.”

Why not Instagram or Pinterest?

Twitter is not the only social media network that has attracted advertisers’ attention in the photography business. A pair of Twitter competitors, Instagram and Pinterest, has raised marketers’ antennae, largely because both focus on images and video.

To be sure, both of these platforms offer advantages that are hard to ignore. Pinterest should have close to 47.1 million active monthly users by the end of 2015, with about 83.3 percent of those users female, according to a recent eMarketer study. In December, Instagram eclipsed 300 million active monthly users, and a recent study says 53 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 use the service.

On the other hand, both Pinterest and Instagram pose challenges for marketers, especially for small and mid-sized businesses.

For Pinterest, part of the issue is how much growth it has in store. The site’s central function, which is acting like an online pin board, may not mesh with what large numbers of people enjoy doing, the eMarketer study noted.

The study also knocked Pinterest’s advertising products, saying they are “fairly limited” for now.

Instagram has several times more users than Pinterest. The problem, in the eyes of some observers, is that Instagram is becoming overly pricey to advertise on, much like its corporate parent, Facebook.

Conclusion

In my book, the best bang for the advertising buck on social media remains Twitter. No other outlet provides a window into people’s purchasing sentiments that is both real-time and so cost-effective, especially for small and mid-sized photo businesses.

And if that isn’t a pretty picture, then I don’t know what is.

Bernard Perrine is the CEO of Twitter marketing company SocialCentiv. He can be reached at bernie@socialcentiv.com.

Groovebook acquisition impacts Shutterfly’s Q1 financial results

groovebook

groovebook— By Hans Hartman

The fact that Shutterfly just cranked out its 57th consecutive quarter of year-over-year net revenue growth (net revenues totaling $160M, a 17% year-over-year increase) would have been yawn-worthy if not for the fact that we’re now seeing the first full quarter impact of Shutterfly’s acquisition of Groovebook – in terms of order volume and average order value, if nothing else.

Groovebook is an inexpensive and subscription-based photobook creation app, popularized by their founders’ Shark Tank appearance. Shutterfly acquired the company last November for $14.5 Million. [There’s more about them in our The Photo Output App Market study].

Based on Groovebook’s impact on Shutterfly’s average order value (Shutterfly reports a 15% YOY decline, but only 4% when excluding the Groovebook sales), the app must have generated so many orders that it actually tilted Shutterfly’s companywide average order value.

 

Four things jump out when contemplating Groovebook:

  • Groovebook is there to stay. It is not a fad, catapulted through Shark Tank but since fizzled. Not only do their subscribed customers generate ongoing sales, the app also currently ranks among the top 200 US-downloaded iOS and Android photo apps – not stellar, but certainly better than most print output products that have been on the market for a while.
  • Groovebook is an app. Naysayers claiming that consumers don’t want to create and order multi-page photobooks on mobile devices: think twice. This app alone apparently can impact the average order value of a $1-billion dollar company.
  • Groovebook sells dirt-cheap photobooks. To be exact: $2.99 each, including shipping and handling. Shutterfly made a daring move acquiring such a low-priced and potentially cannibalizing product, apparently willing to take the risk of a declining average order value.
  • Groovebook is a subscription service. And this might be exactly why Shutterfly took this risk: Groovebook’s ongoing revenues and order volume help to smooth out Shutterfly’s seasonality. And that’s not a bad thing in the low season quarters, as we’ve just had with Q1. It also lowers their customer acquisition costs, assuming the customer churn is reasonably low.

We’ll keep a close look at how Shutterfly will manage further integration of Groovebook in its sales and marketing activities (Groovebook will remain under its own flag, we’ve been told), and how it will fair in the busier spring and summer seasons.

Hans Hartman is president of Suite 48 Analytics and chair of the Mobile Photo Connect conference.