After 2 million users, nearly $4 million in funding, selfie app Frontback folds

Frontback screens
Frontback screens

Frontback screens

App developers face an uphill battle in monetizing photo apps that are really built around a single feature or have social network aspirations. Case in point: Frontback, an app for taking simultaneous photos using the front and back cameras.

By some measures, the app  was a success, gaining 2 million users and $4 million in venture funding, yet founder Fredd della Faille is pulling the plug.

“Frontback started exactly two years ago with the simple idea to capture a moment. No vanity numbers, no filters: it’s ‘me now’ — at the center of Frontback is you, your everyday moments happening now,” says della Faille. “This was a fresh idea and truly the heart of our vision, a concept that’s seeing massive adoption today. Unfortunately, Frontback is not the winner.

“Frontback as a service will be winding down on August 15th.  Your data will be available to download until September 15th, 2015. After this date, all photos and data will be permanently deleted from our servers. During the transition, Frontback for iOS will be updated as a camera app without social interactions nor feeds, and Frontback for Android will be removed from the Play Store.”

Another setback for Frontback was the fact the app’s singular feature – simultaneous front-and-back photography – was easily duplicated and even incorporated into manufacturers cameras, like Samsung’s Dual Camera Mode.

Monetization models for mobile photography

monetizing-art

monetizing-art

A new white paper “zooms in on today’s monetization options for mobile photo apps,” says Suite 48 Analytics.

The study of four leading portrait-enhancing app developers examines just how “making money from photo apps is still more art than science. Even when their user demographics and use cases are similar, photo app developers differ greatly in how they monetize their apps, reflecting differences in legacy business models, financial resources, or strategic goals.”

The case study analyzes Lightrick’s Facetune, ArcSoft’s Perfect365, CyberLink’s YouCam Perfect and YouCam Makeup, and Athentech’s Perfectly Clear.

All four have common use cases – improving portrait photos (primarily selfies) and user demographics (primarily young females).

  • Facetune deploys only one monetization method – charging for the app – and has been the number 1 paid app in over 100 countries.
  • Perfect365 uses a rich mix of monetization methods for its millions of users, including in-app purchasing, advertising, integration of e-commerce for beauty products, and the ability to order printed photobooks.
  • YouCam Perfect and its sister app YouCam Makeup are gearing up to be monetized in various ways but the company has chosen, so far, to forego any revenues in favor of rapidly growing its user base and user engagement. This includes the recent launch of, and integration with, Beauty Circle – a beauty-focused social community site.
  • Perfectly Clear is offered as a paid B2C app but the company also licenses its core technology, or the complete app, to its B2B partners.

“Whereas some of the tried-and-true methods, such as charging for apps, can still be – perhaps surprisingly – lucrative, implementation makes all the difference between a moderate and a runaway success,” reports report author Hans Hartman. “For instance, discounting the app price can do more harm than good unless the optimal incentive amount, timing and prospect targeting have been determined – all of which require rigorous testing and analysis.”

The study also discusses a number of innovative monetization methods, including in-app e-commerce integration, data-driven advertising optimization, and photo print product offerings. “These new models show great promise,” said Hartman, “but they’re still being fine-tuned in the marketplace.”

The issues will be discussed in depth at the Mobile Photo Connect conference on September 29 in San Francisco.

 

The 16-page free white paper is here.

Blacks’ online business bought

blacks

blacks

Les Pros de la Photo will buy the Blacks Photo website and app from Telus.

The Montreal-based photofinisher will run Blacks as an online operation, reports Wifihifi.

The company runs no stores of its own, though it does service pharmacies in Quebec and the rest of Canada.

The deal is to close August 4th. Telus is closing all 59 Blacks stores by August 8th or earlier.

Here is the full article.

 

New Zealand’s Snapshot triples its size with new location

snapshot camera

A big congratulations to our friends Graham and Jill Boswell and their son Sam. The Boswell family has owned Snapshot in Hamilton, New Zealand, since 1946. They have outgrown their space and are moving a few blocks to a new location that offers three times the floor space. The bigger store will provide a greater opportunity to become Hamilton’s photography destination — offering education, printing services, photo gifts and personalized image decor, reports Stuff.co.nz.

The new space will featuer a dedicated lecture room, studio, and a comfortable seating area; as well as sit-down, mobile-friendly kiosks, and room for new, state-of-art printing and restoration equipment. Snapshot will also be adding staff to handle additional new services.

The new store is slated to open in August.

snapshot camera

On the PMA Podcast: Fly4me takes off

fly4me crew

fly4me crewNeed some aerial imaging but don’t want to buy and crash an expensive drone of your own? “Let us fly for you,” suggests a new service. “The future of on-demand drones is here.”

Fly4Me is an online marketplace that matches customers with verified (and insured!) pilots. “You will be able to review pilot profiles and start receiving bids within 24 hours of your proposal,” the company says.

And once the drone is in the air, “you will be able to have a fully interactive experience by leveraging our ground-breaking technology,” Flight Stream, which lets you “connect with your pilot during the flight to get a view from the cockpit. You will also be able to comment on flights in progress, ensuring that the drone goes exactly where you need it to.”

The company adds that it can provide “footage that will last a lifetime. Whether it’s for a wedding, graduation or birthday party, our drones deliver high-quality images that will enhance any private event.” It’s also pursuing real estate, mapping, and other areas.

The service says is already approved by the FAA.

In this episode of the PMA Podcast, co-founder Adam Kersnowski, who tells us why they started the company, and what it can offer to photo service providers everywhere.

You can download the audio episode or subscribe to the podcast here.

Or you can tune in now with the player below.

fly4me faa

Sony senses money

sony w810

sony exmor sensors 1

Already the world’s leading image sensor maker, Sony is, for the first time in decade, issuing public stock to fund further development in the technology.

Sony calls it’s a “profit generation and investment for growth” phase, and says it “plans to apply the funds raised by this issuance of new shares to expenditures for increasing the production capacity of, and research and development for, stacked CMOS image sensors in the Devices segment in order to further enhance profitability.”

Here is the full announcement.

 

40-year ban lifted: Visitor photography allowed again in the White House

Michelle Obama on photos at White House

 

Michelle Obama on photos at White House

For 40 years, visitors to the home of the United States President could not take pictures.

Today First Lady Michelle Obama literally tore up that policy in a video she posted to Instagram, with the accompanying text: “Big news! Starting today, we’re lifting the ban on cameras and photos on the @WhiteHouse public tour. Visitors are now able to take photos and keep those memories for a lifetime!”

The White House press office later released an official statement, saying “Today, the White House is lifting its longstanding camera and photo ban on public tours. This ban has been in place for over 40 years… Effective today, guests are now welcome to take photos throughout the White House tour route and keep those memories for a lifetime.”

Permitted items now include phones and compact still cameras with a lens no longer than 3 inches. Still prohibited are video cameras (which is weird, seeing as how all phones and compact cams capture video) cameras with detachable lenses, tablets, tripods, monopods, and camera sticks, as well as flash photography and livestreaming.

Also: The White House is now posting here the new pictures taken by tourists.

white house photos

 

Photoflex bought by Promark

photoflex

photoflex

Lighting manufacturer Photoflex reports it’s been acquired by Promark International.

Photoflex had all-but gone out of business earlier this year. (See previous coverage here.)

“Together, Promark and Photoflex will focus on delivering high quality, industry-defining lighting solutions for photographers of all skill levels,” the two companies announced.

Photoflex says “business will go on as usual” now, as it develops photographic lighting tools.

 

ISO 51,200 film lit by Moonlight

Lit by Moonlight

Lit by Moonlight

Without a big SFX budget, how can you make a short sci-fi film look like it was shot on an alien world?

Use Sony’s A7s, the mirrorless full-frame camera known for its extreme light sensitivity, and shoot the whole movie under moonlight, that’s how.

The director also used Canon prime lenses and the Metabones Speed Booster, and shot at ISO 51,200.

The 7-minute film Refuge is available here. It’s reportedly the first narrative film shot by moonlight, and has some R-like action and language.

Distinctions disappearing: InfoTrends studies interchangeable lens cameras

infotrends study

infotrends study

The distinction between SLRs and competing compact interchangeable lens cameras is disappearing, reports research firm InfoTrends, “given recent camera introductions and their positioning in the market.”

“2014 represented a year of change in the digital camera market, with significant decreases in unit shipments and sales across multiple global regions,” the company says. “Nevertheless, InfoTrends expects the ILC market to remain profitable for innovative imaging companies that continue to introduce new products and respond to consumers’ needs.”

“At this junction of the DILC market, vendors need to boldly move forward and not be deterred by the decline in sales that the market has experienced recently,” adds InfoTrends’ Ed Lee. “Opportunities still exist in this market. Smartphone owners are now the breeding ground for first-time DILC camera owners. There is a segment of smartphone owners who are graduating from casual photographers to photography enthusiasts and are beginning to seek out education opportunities to learn more about the art of photography.”

The company’s studied the U.S. interchangeable lens camera market since 2008, and the 2015 edition of its report looks at the relative importance of product attributes, as well as buyer demographic characteristics such as age, gender, income, parental status, and photographer type, and compares the demographic profile of smartphone only, point & shoot, CILC, and DSLR camera owners.

Here’s more information.