Photography continues to be one of the most in-demand features of smartphones; the recent iPhone 7 announcements showed that. At the press launch, Apple executives spent much of the time talking about camera technology, and yet spent comparatively little time time discussing phone calls!
As we make our preparations for the world-famous Photokina exhibition, let’s look at how smartphones have impacted the photo-printing business. Fortunately, it looks the opportunity continues to be bright.
“In 2016 there will be over 3.6 billion smartphones in use globally and consumers will upload over 5 billion images per day via just four platforms alone (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat & WhatsApp), many of these captured by and uploaded from smartphones, according to a post by Jeremy Wills, senior imaging and printing analyst at Futuresource Consulting.
Wills points out long-time digital printing players and new startups have focused on the potential of mobile printing smartphone images, accessed through social-media platform, image-sharing networks and, more recently, through cloud storage options.
Unlike prior photo-active printing markets, today’s target is the Millennial. The Millennial has not grown up with printed photos as the default behavior, and is very comfortable with screens, apps and websites. Photo printing has become a novelty, according to Wills, with greater interest in non-standard print sizes like square or Polaroid-style white-border prints. The problem with novelties, however, is that, unlike trends, they can wear off.
Fortunately, however, older demographics have joined with Millennials in adopting the smartphone as their primary capture device. This opens up a larger market for a photo printing than there ever was during the analog hey-day or even the digicam era. The challenge is not technical, but one of marketing. Photo printing has to be fun and convenient, not just a utility to provide a function, to engage with young consumers. This is where merchandising and marketing play a key role.
The upside potential, however, is enormous.
According to Wills, “If just an additional 3% of the 236 billion images set to be captured in 2016 on smartphones in, for example, Western Europe were ordered by consumers as photo prints, then this would double the photo prints market size from 7 billion to 14 billion prints and have a very positive effect on revenue.”
He notes a shift this enormous is unlikely, but there are already signs in France, the U.K., and the United States have been able to grow print volume in the mobile-to-home print channel. As we have mentioned many times, once engaged in printing, this is an opportunity for the retailer to create incremental growth to higher margin products, like photo books and gifts, through cross- and up-selling.
“The photo printing industry has an opportunity to deliver a strong message to all consumers that printed photo products are still one of the most effective ways of securing and safeguarding treasured images for the future,” writes Futuresource’s Jeremy Wills.