For Apps, Profit Picture Is Blurry

Companies in recent months have launched a slew of photography applications for the iPhone and other smartphones, but many of these start-ups are still trying to figure out the best way to profit from their software programs.

The apps, many of which are free to download, let users apply special effects to photos they snap with their phones. The apps also make it easy to share photos on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

The apps have garnered millions of downloads in the past year, but building a business model has proved trickier. Some of the app makers are charging users for extra features; others plan to sell advertising or even prints of the snapshots. At least one start-up is exploring the idea of alerting a cellphone user to nearby advertisers once the person has snapped a photo.

“It’s hard to monetize the apps right now because there are so many especially in the photography space,” said Thomas McLeod, president of app maker Imaginary Feet LLC. “It’s hard not to get lost in the oversaturation of the other apps.”

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