The cloud is proving to be a key driver for photo sharing and services. Consumers may not know the details of how the cloud or synchronization works, but they are certainly learning about the benefits. Everyone with a smartphone has access to some sort of photo back up/synchronization feature, whether it’s built-in with iPhone/iCloud or Google/Google Backup or a third-party service like Dropbox or Box.
With consumers taking nearly a trillion pictures this year, the need for storage and for seamless access to images is becoming more critical. In North America, the entire cloud storage market is growing 30 percent a year, up to nearly $22 billion by 2018, according to Markets and Markets.
Amazon recently expanded its Cloud Drive service, offering unlimited photo storage – plus 5 GB of video and file storage – for just $11.99 a year. A completely unlimited plan is offered for $59.99 a year. Amazon offers just storage, while other photo-specific services like Mylio, Picturelife and Shoebox offer cloud storage, organization features and syncing across devices. Shutterfly’s ThisLife storage and organization service began offering free unlimited photo storage, with additional fees for video storage. (Unlike Dropbox, Box and Amazon, however, these latter services don’t offer open APIs to allow third-party services the access their stored images.)
Even with all of this investment in these services, the awareness of them by consumers and photographers is still very low. A recent Suite48 Analytics research report showed only about half of the mobile photographers surveyed store photos in the cloud.
“Given the relatively recent introduction of these photo-oriented features or services, it is no surprise 32 percent of the respondents who do not store any of their photos in the cloud attribute this to being simply ‘not that familiar with these services’ – indicating there is still substantial room for growth,” according to Hans Hartman, president of Suite 48 Analytics and author of the “Photos and the Cloud” study. In addition, Hartman believes the number one factor that could drive further adoption of photo-cloud storage services is for these services to more transparently address mobile photographers’ most pressing photo storage need: secure backup.
For photo merchandise and product marketers, the most important feature is access, not backup. Fortunately, social sites, like Facebook and Instagram, and leading cloud services ways for web-based product creators, like our HTML5 Photobook builder, to not only pull in images, but share the finished book as well.