With the explosion of exposures from smartphone cameras, there’s been widespread industry speculation of when the commensurate increase in photo output will come. Yes, photo merchandise and gifts are growing, but not at a rate to replace the loss of print volume.
A recent Suite 48 Analytics study shows photo-print apps attract new customers but app-distribution challenges require innovation. Smartphone photo printing apps are doing more than delivering an increasing share of print vendors’ revenues: They’re also attracting new customers who haven’t previously engaged in printing, according to the just-published Photo Output App Market study. Prime examples include:
– More than 20 percent of Snapfish’ mobile app customers are new to Snapfish.
– More than 50 percent of major European photo product vendor CeWe Color’s first-time mobile purchasers are new customers.
This new trend upends the conventional wisdom smartphone photographers are only interested in sharing digital photos through social network or messaging platforms, and are therefore not a potential market for printed photo products such as photo prints, photobooks, photo postcards, or photo-enriched phone cases, according to Hans Hartman, author of the study.
Photo-printing app developers, however, remain challenged to generate awareness and sizable download numbers for their apps. According to the study, which analyzed 137 photo product apps, the apps’ median downloads to date are only 62,000 and just 20 percent of the apps have been downloaded more than 500,000 times. By comparison, even today’s 100th ranked photo category app in the US iOS App Store has had more than 1 million downloads.
“Many smartphone photographers clearly want the ability to order photo products on occasion,” says Hartman. “For many these occasions, however, aren’t frequent enough to warrant downloading and installing a dedicated app.
“In fact, smartphone photographers might not even be aware they can order output products unless the feature is visible someplace where they frequently engage with their photos, such as in an app for image enhancement or one for photo organization. The win/win here, for both customers and vendors, is migrating the print function from being a product to being a feature.”