With a focus on families, Photogram debuts new iPhone app

Jun 15, 2011
Tech

As a new parent, I am always searching for the most convenient ways to share pictures with select groups of family and friends. The trick is to find a platform that is just as accessible to my 93-year-old grandmother as it is my teenage hipster nephew. Sending attachments via email is too cumbersome, while blasting […]

As a new parent, I am always searching for the most convenient ways to share pictures with select groups of family and friends.

The trick is to find a platform that is just as accessible to my 93-year-old grandmother as it is my teenage hipster nephew. Sending attachments via email is too cumbersome, while blasting special family moments to my Facebook friends or Twitter followers is not my cup of tea.

Enter Photogram, a free iPhone app which debuted today. While there is no shortage of photo sharing apps available for the iPhone, Photogram stands out due to its hand-crafted delivery method where pictures are framed within beautiful backdrops created by a growing network of individual artists. The app also appeals to me because of its call for curation. By limiting my ability to only send four pictures to a pre-selected group of my choosing, I’m forced to really choose among the best of the best of shots to convey a particular occasion. Recipients are also spared the task of viewing all of my pictures (or more likely lying to me and saying that they did).

In this edition of Meet the Makers, we sit down with Photogram creators Bob Armour and Brian Hand to discuss their unique approach to the uber-competitive photo-sharing space, a highly targeted in-app business model, and why JPEG attachments are no way to package your memories and special moments.”

Appolicious: As both of you know, there are tons of useful and interesting photo sharing apps available for iOS devices. What makes Photogram unique and a worthy download?

Bob Armour: Photogram is a unique iPhone app that provides special delivery of multiple photos via email, Facebook and Twitter – all in one step. It is this unique combination of simple and efficient functionality – that also enables the delivery of something handcrafted and memorable -that makes Photogram stand apart.

Brian Hand: We have two goals with our app. Our first is to solve a problem – namely to make it simple for time-pressed people to capture and share photo memories quickly with people important to them. To achieve this goal, we created Photogram with a highly intuitive user interface and included functionality like our “Groups” feature that lets you reach multiple people such as family and friends with one-click. With our app, you can send a Photogram directly to dozens of individuals and share it on your social networks in as little as 30 seconds. And your recipients don’t have to have the app or register to receive a Photogram. All they have to do is click and view.

Our second goal is to improve and enhance the photo sharing and delivery experience. Oftentimes, the photo delivery experience is lacking, and typically in email it’s just plain awful. Let’s face it, JPEG attachments are no way to package your memories and special moments. With Photogram, we want the delivery experience and packaging around your photos to enhance and support the specialness of the moments they reflect. Sort of like getting a diamond ring in a Tiffany box. So we created two functions in Photogram to achieve our special delivery experience.

First, you can send up to four photos in a Photogram. This lets you tell a story, and your recipients can enjoy different elements of the memory or the event. Second, you can select among dozens of Themes created by talented independent artists to wrap your photos in. You can choose Themes based on your personal tastes or to showcase a special event, like a vacation, birthday party or holiday. The result is a Photogram, a photo sharing experience that’s personalized and thoughtfully customized by you.

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Check out Appolicious’ video review for Photogram below:

APPO: Tell us who your target market is.

BA: In general, our target market is any iPhone toting person who has two characteristics: 1. a need to share photos with people using different means – email, Facebook and/or Twitter and 2. a desire to deliver something customized and thoughtful to their recipients. Our specific target market is new parents. New parents are certainly time-pressed, and they have lots of photosharing opportunities. They have a need to keep older relatives in the loop with what’s going on (very often by email), and they still want to share with their friends via Facebook and Twitter. Many of their experiences with their children are “firsts” and very special (first steps, first words, first tooth, first bike ride, birthdays, etc.). Photogram provides them with a way to share these experiences to make them memorable for everyone involved.

APPO: As Photogram is a free app, how do you plan on making money?

BH: Yes, Photogram is a free app. We will make money by selling Themes created from independent artists’ works in our in-app Theme Store. Upon download of Photogram, you get a starter set of Themes that you can use unlimited number of times. Within the app, you can browse the Theme Store by what’s new and featured, by category (such as holiday, kid-related, pet-related, type of art, etc.) and by artist to find other Themes. These Themes cost $0.99 each. Once purchased, you own that Theme and can use it to create and share as many Photograms as you want. At some point we will offer Theme Packs. Oh, while we’re here, we should mention that, for a limited time, we are offering 26 free Themes – a $25 value – as a special launch promotion for all new users of Photogram.

APPO: You are accumulating an impressive library of images created by a number of independent artists. Talk about how those artists and others can promote their work and make some extra cash through your app.

BA: Thank you. We are super excited about being partnered with independent artists from all around the world. Their artwork is diverse and beautiful, and we love that you as a Photogram user get the benefit of their talents to share with families and friends. The artists give us the rights to use their works from which Themes are created. Each Theme has the creating artist’s name on it – both in the app itself and on the actual Photogram when it is shared. So the artist and his or her works get exposed to our users and those who receive Photograms, whether in email or through Facebook and Twitter.

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Additionally, the app has a screen devoted to each artist that includes a description of the artist, a link to his or her web site and a list of his or her Themes. We hope to help our artist partners acquire more customers. Also, last but not definitely not least, Theme purchases provide financial support for our artist partners. So be sure to buy a bunch!

APPO: Do you plan on developing an Android version of Photogram?

BH: Yes.

APPO: How much of Photogram was developed internally by your team at Timelines and how can the app be incorporated into other parts of your business.

BA: All of Photogram’s development was done in-house by our very talented tech team- Geoff Buesing, Scott McMillin and Zach Zolton. They built a rock-solid app that’s intuitive and stylish. Regarding Timelines, our business is all about recording and sharing events.

BH: Photogram’s inspiration came from a web site that we run called Lifesnapz. LifeSnapz helps families share and record events and explore them using timelines and maps. Photogram users capture and share events with their iPhones while they are in the moment, and we believe that there are potential opportunities to similarly organize past Photograms based on time, place and topic. Just to be clear, Photogram is not integrated with LifeSnapz.

APPO: Once the initial launch publicity fades, how do you plan on driving downloads to Photogram over time?

BA: We plan on driving Photogram downloads a number of different ways. First, we believe that the app’s usefulness, design and customized nature will drive strong word of mouth referrals. Second, recipients of Photogram are one-click away from downloading the app; we hope that they enjoy the experience and decide to spread the joy themselves. Third, we will be working with our artist partners to promote Photogram to their fans and supporters, online and at their shows and studios.

BH: Speaking of our artist partners, we doing something very interesting with one of them. Patrick Skoff (and his business partner Sam Brown) are Chicago-based artists who run art scavenger hunts locally. They are taking this concept national using a converted bus as a mobile art studio in September. Photogram will be the primary sponsor. Patrick will be using Photogram to document and share their awesome adventure. Finally, we will continue to promote Photogram throughout the calendar as THE way to capture and share all of your special moments – simply and with style.

APPO: With a brand new app available in the App Store, what are the three biggest things keeping you up at night right now.

BA: Wow, there are a bunch of things to worry about (and way more than 3), but most are out of our control (such as getting featured by Apple, competitive response, customer reactions, journalist reviews, etc.). We are planning for success, so the things that we are focused on are: making sure that our users have a great experience with Photogram, that we correct any issues that might crop up and react to feedback quickly, and that we are evangelizing Photogram as much as possible with people such as you.

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Brad Spirrison

Brad Spirrison is the managing editor of appoLearning and Appolicious Inc. In this capacity, he has sampled and evaluated thousands of iOS and Android applications. He also holds an M.A. in Education and Media Ecology from New York University.

Spirrison worked in concert with appoLearning Expert and Instructional Technology Specialist Leslie Morris while curating and evaluating educational applications.

A longtime media and technology commentator and executive, Spirrison is also a regular contributor to ABC News, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Bloomberg West and The Christopher Gabriel Program.

Spirrison is married and lives with his wife and young son in Chicago. As his son was born just weeks before the debut of the iPad, Spirrison takes his work home with him and regularly samples and enjoys a variety of educational applications for young children.

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