Early Adopter: New Parent? Have an iPhone? Photogram Is Out to Get You.
Apps that crop photos. Apps that share photos. Even apps that turn photographed faces into leopard print.
A recent study by CultofMac.com puts the total number of photography apps available for download in Apple’s app store somewhere near 10,000.
So, when I was contacted by a couple of guys from Chicago who claimed to be poised to tap into a yet unfilled niche in iOS photography apps, I’ll have to admit that a heavy eye roll set in.
Photogram, a photo sharing app currently in closed beta and due to launch on June 16, is the brainchild of Bob Armour and Brian Hand, who co-founded the app’s parent company, Timelines.
They aren’t what you’d expect from a couple of app company founders. They aren’t 20-something, they didn’t just graduate from a trendy incubator and they don’t spend their days in a co-working space.
But that, they hope, may be their competitive edge.
“We’re really going after new parents,” Hand explained in a recent interview.
Think, Evite for photographs.
Photogram is deceptively simple. Users select up to four photos from their phone galleries, pick a theme, add the email addresses of the recipients and fire away.
The output is a simple Web page, similar to Instagram, and a rich-media email to recipients. Users can also opt to send the link to Facebook or Twitter.
Themes range from backyard barbecuing to soccer to more abstract arty choices. They are designed by independent artists and converted for use in the Photogram app.
The founders said that the whole idea of incorporating themes was a late addition, but now it is central to their revenue strategy.
“We see the themes as becoming like Threadless for photos,” said Hand, referring to the hipster-friendly online t-shirt company.
The app will launch with about 50 free themes and additional themes will be available for in-app purchase.
Timelines hopes to cash in on what it sees as the burgeoning market of tech-savvy new parents who want to use apps to share their special moments with everyone, especially the theoretically less technical new grandparents.
To keep things simple, all photograms are point-to-point communications. There isn’t a built-in social network and there’s no public profile to stalk. Users can’t currently receive photograms in the app–they can only transmit.
“You can pretty much guarantee that you can reach someone by email now,” said Armour. “You can’t say that with social networks yet.”
No photo filters? No social network? No personal brand building? How will users know how Internet-important they are?
Jaded social media sarcasm aside, there are legitimate engagement arguments for including those elements in an app.
But the argument for simplicity, especially for this market, makes sense too.
For a new parent, sharing photos of baby’s first step is likely more exciting than being followed by a stranger. And the sharing can’t happen if grandma can’t find them.
Photogram, while not at all a new idea, does something too often absent from the apps that become tech-scene darlings.
It is designed for an audience that doesn’t read tech blogs and it is part of a growing cadre of apps that solve problems for people other than the folks who built them.
In other words, geeks might have created Facebook–but it was everyone else who made it huge.