September 12, 2019

Who will benefit from the emerging gig photography ecosystem?

Now that both consumers and businesses embrace the benefits of the gig economy, it’s no surprise that gig photo services are gaining popularity with offerings ranging from “photographer on demand” (allowing you to order a photographer for your child’s birthday party through the click of a few buttons), to photo editing (freeing you up from needing to learn the ins or outs of Photoshop), to photo organizing (having professional photo organizers come to your home and go through your proverbial shoeboxes to curate the photos you really care about). (…)

So, who then is making money from this burgeoning gig photography phenomenon? (…)

September 9, 2019

Why is the photo print industry doing well, at a time when the camera market is crashing?

Last week, as I posted a note on LinkedIn referring to the latest depressing camera sales data from CIPA, it dawned on me how differently the photo output business has fared compared to the camera business – two industries that traditionally were interwoven and followed parallel trajectories.

At a time when many camera vendors are suffering, the photo print industry has managed to stay relatively stable in size (and is actually growing in some markets), while becoming less dependent on digital camera usage (read: success in attracting smartphone photographers as customers). (…)

September 4, 2019

The Leading Edge: Advancing computational photography, managing Deepfakes, growing photo print revenues, re-discovering photo masterpieces

With 29 days to go until Visual 1st, I’d like to introduce you to four highly accomplished individuals, each a prominent expert in one of the leading edge areas mentioned above.

They are pushing the boundaries in their respective fields, and we’re honored that they will share their perspectives and vision with us in four thought-provoking Fireside Chat sessions at Visual 1st, October 3-4 in San Francisco. (…)

August 21, 2019

Visual 1st with 43 days to go: Announcing 42 presenters, 18 sponsoring vendors, 7 media/association partners …

My co-host Alexis Gerard and I are very pleased with how our Visual 1st 2019 conference is shaping up and we'd like you to be part of it!

With 43 days to go, buying your ticket now will optimize your pre-conference exposure through a listing on our Attendee Trailers page and our Attendee page.

What is Visual 1st?

Attended by imaging industry decision makers from the Americas, Asia and Europe, Visual 1st is the premier executive conference focused on promoting innovation and partnerships in the photo and video ecosystem. The conference hosts (…)

August 7, 2019

A digital camera compared to a smartphone camera is like …

Over the years I’ve heard many people compare digital cameras to smartphones by using metaphors.

Why metaphors? The power of metaphors is that they can trigger new thoughts or insights that go beyond the obvious. In the matter of cameras vs. smartphones: gain a deeper understanding of these photo capture platforms’ respective strengths & weaknesses than one typically already has from just reviewing product stats or usage data.

And why would that deeper understanding matter?

For one, if you’re considering allocating resources to either platform (for instance, as a retailer, consumer, employee, investor, or ecosystem partner), the better you understand how one capture device platform compares to the other, the smarter decisions you can make. (…)

July 24, 2019

AI imaging news roundup: the good, bad, and ugly

New AI imaging products, research papers and scandals keep popping up – so, I thought it was a good idea to present a roundup of the AI imaging announcements of the last two weeks. Needless to say, there was a lot of commotion around FaceApp but, before we get into that, let’s start with the other AI imaging news. (…)

July 10, 2019

What's in store for the Gig Photography market?

I’d like to share a few thoughts spurred by our recently released Building the Gig Photo Economy study, as well as the conversations I’ve since had with quite a few folks using or suppling Gig Photography services.

First of all, we live in an era of diminishing stigma against outsourcing household tasks that consumers traditionally have done themselves. Coupled with compelling use cases for deploying gig photographers or photography workers as I wrote about earlier, there are plenty of opportunities for innovative vendors to offer services that make finding, engaging, paying, and communicating with gig photographers frictionless and affordable.

It’s a market that is still in its infancy and I expect (…)

June 18, 2019

Shutterfly + Snapfish: 
does more of the same make sense?

The news last week was of course the three-fold announcements regarding Shutterfly: New CEO, acquisition by Apollo Global Management, and the additional acquisition of Snapfish (from District Photo) by that very same Apollo.

Much has already been said about these announcements, but I’d like to zoom in on the move to bring Shutterfly and Snapfish under the same umbrella, which has more or less the same effect as Shutterfly acquiring Snapfish, and gives the combined unit a substantial share of the US photo print product retail market (35% based on 2016 numbers) (…)

June 5, 2019

The gig economy brings lifestyle values back to photography

Consumers are busier than ever – or at least feel busier than ever. This accounts for the immense popularity of gig economy services that help us outsource tasks we can’t, or would rather not, do ourselves: cook, walk our dogs, clean our house, fix that jammed door, run errands, organize our closets, drive to our destinations.

However, when it comes to recording the events of our lives, which we increasingly find compelled to record through an estimated 3 trillion photos per year, we’re still overwhelmingly behind the camera, capturing the photos and videos ourselves. Too often that’s at the expense of enjoying the moment. (…)

May 30, 2019

The case for Photographers on Demand

It’s been fascinating to see innovative apps or services come to market that enable gig photographers (professional photographers or more casual photo hobbyists) to market their services in the frictionless manner we’re all so used to when ordering our Uber ride, booking a room through Airbnb or hiring a graphic designer through Fiverr.

The twist here is that these photo gig solutions cater to a market that has seen gig workers since its inception – long before the birth of the words “gig” (in the jazz scene during the 1920s) and “gig economy” (during the 2008-2009 financial crisis.) (…)

May 1, 2019

Shoebox – the end of an era

Last week Shoebox announced it’s closing its door on May 22nd, signifying the end of an era when one innovative cloud-based photo management/synching solution after another came to market in the 2010-2015 timeframe.

Founded in 2012, Shoebox has always stood out to me for its novel interface, which enabled users to search for photos by leveraging the photo’s metadata in innovative ways. For instance, you could filter your photo collection by the camera model you used, your location, time of the week, year and month, or season. (…)

April 30, 2019

How did we get to the era of abundance photography?

How has the photo industry changed in the last 200 years? Check out this 6-minute fragment of yours truly being interviewed by Allen Saakyan of Simulation, a video show featuring interviews with a broad range of thought leaders in their respective fields.

April 16, 2019

Vimeo acquires 2-time Visual 1st Gold sponsor Magisto for a reported $200M

Congratulations to our friends from Magisto, who announced yesterday that they have been acquired by streaming video platform, Vimeo, for a reported $200M.

Magisto has raised nearly $23 million in venture capital over time from investors that include SanDisk Ventures and Qualcomm Ventures, but it hasn’t raised any funding since 2014 (hint: they’re probably profitable). Magisto has an estimated 100 million users and employs a team of about 75, of which 90 percent are based in Israel.

Alexis and I have had the pleasure of having CMO Reid Genauer and CEO Oren Boiman speak at Visual 1st (then still called Mobile Photo Connect) in 2014 and 2015 respectively, when they were still an early startup. (…)

April 3, 2019

What if you were a digital camera vendor?

Camera sales are declining and form only a minuscule fraction of the smartphone sales. It is not because people have stopped using digital cameras altogether – they still use them, but use them less often. In addition, the camera upgrade cycles are getting longer with no revolutionary technology innovations enticing photographers to buy the next generation of models (even the introduction of mirrorless appears to have had more of a cannibalization than a market-expansion effect).

As a result, quite a few smaller camera companies have closed doors or they (or their cameras) were sold at rock bottom prices, including (…)

March 20, 2019

Photo print products: How to compete in a mature market?

Views of four innovative vendors (Mediaclip, Pastbook, Cloudprinter, Jondo)

At the photokina Business Forum Imaging conference two weeks ago I had the privilege of moderating a panel with four innovative companies, who shared their perspectives on how to tackle the challenges they (or their customers) face in today’s competitive photo print product market. (…)

March 13, 2019

Four players who enable the monetization of photo engagement

Photo engagement and monetization go hand in hand – or should go hand in hand, as we heard in an exciting panel at the photokina Business Forum Imaging conference in Cologne last week.

With monetization opportunities abound – from advertising/ sponsorship to selling photo tools/apps or photo print products to offering visual search-enabled shopping solutions, it is easy to ignore the conditions required for monetization to succeed. It’s exactly the challenges of meeting these conditions that are the focus of our panelists’ business models.

What is needed to enable monetization of consumers who are taking, sharing or viewing photos in ever-growing numbers? In our panel we discussed 3 important requirements: (…)

February 20, 2019

Visual 1st 2019 – your input requested

Alexis and I are in the early stages of planning this year’s Visual 1st conference, to be held October 3-4 in San Francisco, CA.

As always, we want to ensure this 7th edition of our conference for the imaging ecosystem is again a stellar learning and networking event! To that end, we ‘d love to hear from you: What do you think your industry colleagues and yourself will most benefit from? (…)

February 6, 2019

What’s happening in the photo app stores?

About once a quarter I spend some time analyzing the US app store rankings for the top photo and video apps, while also checking out any new apps that might have made it into the top positions.

Below are my high-level takeaways, based on an analysis of the US app store data for the top 65 free or grossing photo/video apps on February 1. (Contact me if you’d be interested in acquiring the complete analysis + data set). (…)

January 23, 2019

5G is upon us. What now?

If CES was any indication, 5G is supposed to change the world as we know it. And after all the noise we’ll no doubt hear next month at Mobile World Congress, even my 96-year-old mother-in-law will demand 5G on her phone. Before we look into how 5G might impact the world of consumer imaging, let’s first explore what it is and review the most discussed use cases in the consumer tech world at large. (…)

January 10, 2019

The power of impromptu demos

Remember Cycloramic, the app that used the iPhone's vibrator to have it auto-rotate to take 360 degree pictures? Founder Bruno Francois did an impromptu demo after one of my mobile photography presentations at PMA 6 or 7 years ago and wowed everyone. Then he started pivoting, got Marc Cuban to invest in him, and turned his technology into a 3D solution for the car industry. Now he has successfully sold his company for $22M, Marc Cuban calling it Shark Tank's “No. 1 success story.” Read this fascinating story all the way to the end, as there was another impromptu demo that eventually prompted his acquisition! (…)

January 10, 2019

The six CES imaging announcements that jumped out at me

Among all the noise of 5G, foldable phones, 8K monitors, a gazillion smart this or smart that devices (from smart cooking to smart toilets), and the oh so smart this and the not so smart move from CES, here are six imaging-related announcements that jumped out at me: AEE Selfly, ROKiT, Canon, Obsbot Tail, Kodak Smile, Insta360 (…)

December 19, 2018

The six consumer imaging trends that stood out in 2018

I'm a sucker for year-in-reviews, especially if they're about soccer or speedskating (yes, really). So, with things slowing down before the holidays and a soon forthcoming CES that will bring us right back to the future, here are the six consumer imaging trends that I feel stood out this year. 

1. AI is becoming ubiquitous. (…)

2. Image capture: computational photography is driving things forward, not optics. (…)

3. The long tail - How a maturing industry finds growth. (…)

4. Stories - The happy medium between permanent and ephemeral.  (…)

5. Subscriptions - The new holy grail of monetization.  (…)

6. Videos - It's coming, it's coming, and now finally it's here for real! (…)

December 4, 2018

The Osmo Pocket - when a drone company launches a handheld camera and gets it right

Last Thursday DJI announced its Osmo Pocket, a $349 "compact, stabilized smart camera that fits in your pocket," as DJI describes it. To me this was one of the most exciting camera announcements this season. Before we get into the reasons why, here's a high-level overview of the camera's features:

Form factor. The Osmo Pocket camera looks a bit like the Flip Video camera of days past and the Ricoh Theta 360 camera. It indeed fits in most pockets and is optimized for single-handed operation. (…)

November 20, 2018

Digital Photo Frames Take 3

After lukewarm market adoption in the past, innovative digital photo frames vendors explore new approaches

Digital frames have been around for a while. We got tired of the first generation in the early 1990s, and the second generation of internet-connected frames in in the early 2000s wasn't compelling enough either for most of us to keep using them. Why have yet another device to clutter our shelves or counters if we could already easily view our photos on our phone, computer, iPad - or connect any of those to our TV to view them on a large screen? 

But more recently a third generation of digital frames have come to market that offer a variety of innovations that target specific rather than general consumer use cases. While there is no guarantee this new generation will succeed this time, their innovative approaches show more promise than the devices we've seen in the past. (…)

October 31, 2018

Ouch - Why Shutterfly's stock tumbled

As of this writing, Shutterfly's stock is more than 17% down, following yesterday's announcement of disappointing Q3 consumer segment revenues (-6% YoY), as well as a 2% lowered guidance for Q4. Shutterfly's smaller business printing segment and Lifetouch were doing well, according to the company.

What's happening? On the surface, the challenges of Shutterfly's core consumer segment are nothing new. Its consumer segment was also down in the previous quarters this year (Q1: -5% YoY, Q2: -8% YoY, and now Q3: -6% YoY). Also not new: Shutterfly keeps targeting the same type of customers (young parents), while trying to compensate for the decline in order volume (Q3: -12% YoY) by offering their traditional customers higher priced products (Q3 average order value: +7% YoY).

What is new is that Shutterfly's CEO now openly highlighted its challenges, while announcing an ever so low - but psychologically huge - 2% downwards guidance for Q4. And ouch said their stock. (…)

October 25, 2018

2018 Visual 1st Awards go to
Insta360, CaptureLife, Embody Digital, and Pixsy

At this year's just concluded edition of Visual 1st (visual1st.biz), the premier conference focused on promoting innovation and partnerships in the photo and video ecosystem, a panel of high-powered industry experts presented the four Visual 1st Awards to the most outstanding among 30 products competing in this year's show-and-tell demo sessions.        

The 2018 Visual 1st Awards winners are:

October 15, 2018

Monetizing Photos through Print: Winning Tactics in a Rapidly Evolving Environment

We've had a panel discussing trends and opportunities for photo print products in every previous edition of Visual 1st (formerly called Mobile Photo Connect). At the beginning of each year, when Alexis and I start contemplating whether to schedule such a panel together again, we always ask ourselves: Are there enough new developments to again warrant a panel on the business of photo print products? As it turned out, there have always been an abundance of new vendors, new partners, new consumer types, new technology trends, and new channels to generate engaging and insightful discussions on stage, often followed by ad hoc talks during the breaks or our network reception. 

This year won't be an exception. More so, we believe the 2018 edition of our Photo Print Monetization panel might be the one that takes on the most impactful industry changes to date. (…)

October 11, 2018

Seven reasons why you can't miss Visual 1st, just 11 days from now

1. You'll meet with senior-level decision makers and potential partners  who have the power to help grow your business

2. You'll interact with top industry thought leaders, including renowned Fireside Chat & Special Session presenters

3. You'll hear in-depth panel discussions on the industry's hottest topics

4. You'll get inspired by 30 fast-paced photo app Show & Tell demos of some of the most innovative photo and video apps now reaching the market (…)

October 8, 2018

Announcing 26 innovative imaging developers to date to demo their products on stage at Visual 1st

Two weeks before Visual 1st, the world's premier conference focused on promoting innovation and partnerships in the photo and video ecosystem, we're pleased to announce 26 out of a total of 30 innovative developers who will show their products on stage at Visual 1st.  (The 4 remaining Show & Tell demo slots are reserved for last minute sponsors).

This year, we have for the first time selected our Show & Tell presenters exclusively from companies who have never presented their solutions before at Visual 1st (formerly called Mobile Photo Connect), in addition to the demo slots reserved for sponsors

In 3 fast-paced Show & Tell sessions, the developers will compete for the Visual 1st Best Business Potential Award, Best Technology Award, Best of Show Award, Special Recognition Award, and the Visual 1st Best of Show Award

Previous Show & Tell presenters include Regaind (acquired by Apple), Kite (acquired by Canon), Orbeus (acquired by Amazon), and Looksery (acquired by Snapchat). (…)

October 3, 2018

When one camera doesn't do it all

Research findings + Visual 1st camera panel

As we're gearing up toward our Visual 1st conference, which will feature a stellar panel of camera vendors (see more below), I'd like to whet your appetite and share a few highlights from our Beyond smartphones and digital cameras - The Long Tail of Cameras survey, conducted a few months ago among 1055 North American respondents who take at least 5 photos a month.

September 25, 2018

Emerging monetization models for the photo and video ecosystem

Last year at Visual 1st, Itai Tsidon, co-founder of Lightricks, the makers of FaceTuneEnlight and other best-selling photo apps, shared his company's reasons why they'd decided to move to a subscription model for their apps. In short, they thought subscriptions were the way to break through the $10M in revenues ceiling they felt was inevitable if they'd stick to "just" selling apps. Did the move to a subscription model work out? I checked with Itai last week and his answer was a resounding "yes"! The company is now trending towards reaching $50M by year's end and employing 150 workers. (…)

September 19, 2018

Apple's breakthrough new dual camera system - or not really?

Apple. Now that the noise has died down a bit over the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR announcements, more industry observers start to wonder if there was really that much groundbreaking new on the imaging front. The optics haven't changed a hack of a lot compared to the iPhone X, with the exception of the pixel pitch increase from 1.22 µm to 1.4 µm, allowing for more details in low lights and shadows. But that didn't stop Apple calling it "a breakthrough new 12 MP dual camera system." (…)

September 5, 2018

Videos and phodeos surge into the Mainstream

New study analyzes what's driving the explosion in user-generated videos and hybrid photo-videos

Consumer video sure ain't what it used to be. The category now includes numerous variations, ranging from full-length to short-form narratives, plus what could be called "phodeos": hybrids of photos and videos such as Boomerang clips, Instagram Stories and even the (now venerable) GIF animations. Due in large part to these new options that free consumers from the "one (huge) size fits all" straightjacket of the past, motion imaging is more popular now than ever.

Are we witnessing a bubble? Or will video/phodeo continue its rise in adoption to become a dominant format of visual expression, communication, and memory capture - even perhaps toppling the supremacy of the still image, i.e. photos? (…)


August 29, 2018: The proliferation of cameras, visual formats, and monetization methods are transforming the consumer imaging industry – Pursuing low hanging fruit or the long tail?

August 15, 2018: Visual 1st 2018 update: Announcing 35 speakers, 13 sponsoring vendors, 7 sponsoring media/associations

August 1, 2018: Printing Press: Innovative Photo Print Product Apps

July 25, 2018: News from the visual-first ecosystem

July 11, 2018: Visual apps: Photo, Video, Photo + Video?

June 20, 2018: Smartphone Apps for Summer Picture Taking

June 6, 2018: The photo print products use case: A relic of the past? Or teeming with new opportunities? Introducing The 2018 Photo Print Buying Survey study

May 16, 2018: The Google I/O outcome: a plethora of photo-related innovations coming your way

April 25, 2018: Announcing Visual 1st 2018: initial program, speakers and sponsors

April 25, 2018: Beyond smartphones and digital cameras - The Long Tail of Cameras study

April 11, 2018: Going blockchain? Two imaging examples

March 28, 2018: News from the visual-first ecosystem  

March 15, 2018: The top-ranking photo apps: their age, ratings, and domicile

March 1, 2018: The potential of AR for printed photo products

February 14, 2018: The untapped potential of mono-brand stores for the imaging industry. Takeaways from my visits to the Leica, WhiteWall, and Fujifilm Wonder Photo Shop stores

January 31, 2018: News analysis: Shutterfly buys Lifetouch –Wall Street is happy, but for how long?

January 25, 2018: Study finds ample supply of innovative apps to jumpstart consumer AR adoption

January 11, 2018: Camera Companies Reach Out to Imaging Start-up Developers

December 13, 2017: 5 Takeaways from Mobile Photo Connect 2017, part 2

November 29, 2017: 5 Takeaways from Mobile Photo Connect 2017, part 1

October 30, 2017: 2017 Visual 1st Awards go to Photomyne, PastBook, V360, and Streetography  

October 30, 2017: Mobile Photo Connect conference is now Visual 1st 

October 5, 2017: Monetizing Photo Apps - print products to the rescue 

October 2, 2017: Regaind, winner of last year's Mobile Photo Connect Best Technology Award, acquired by Apple! 

September 27, 2017: Innovative solution providers tackle the ever-growing headaches of photo management and storage

September 14, 2017: AI: it’s time to take image recognition beyond auto-tagging 

September 14, 2017: The iPhone X deep-dive – Why this phone will disrupt the mobile imaging ecosystem

August 15, 2017: Going Deep – the race for depth imaging smartphones is on

August 2, 2017: Photo storage 4.0 - it's deduplication, stupid!

July 19, 2017: Reality check: taking, keeping, storing smartphone photos

June 29, 2017: VR: a dud? Or has it barely started?

June 8, 2017: WWDC takeaways: lots of great news for photo app developers, but one major puzzler

May 23, 2017: Google I/O: what's wrong with a lack of jaw-dropping announcements?

May 11, 2017: Announcing Mobile Photo Connect 2017–Expanding to 1.5-day program; attractive Early Bird VIP program

April 25, 2017: Move over Snap: Facebook is the camera company to beat–It's the platform, stupid

April 13, 2017: Canon’s acquisition of Kite – the view from the stakeholders

March 22, 2017: The unstoppable rise of Stories: New social visual story telling format strikes a chord in social networks and chat services

March 9, 2017: The five most interesting product launches at Mobile World Congress (Barcelona) and Business Forum Imaging (Cologne)–Nostalgia, minimalistic product design,and a new approach for connecting DSLRs to the cloud

February 22, 2017: The unpredicted but explainable comeback of instant printing – Camera-printers and Snapchat; retro photo prints and Instagram; instant sharing and WhatsApp – today’s instant printing popularity is more than a niche phenomenon

February 7, 2017: From Artificial Intelligence to Intelligent Imaging: AI buzz is everywhere – but smart imaging innovations are flourishing right inside our industry 

January 25, 2017: Connecting cameras to engagement: What Snapchat, GoPro and Giroptic have in common

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