John Gruber of Daring Fireball says putting out just a filters photo app is a bad idea. From his post Monday:
If Twitter wanted to make it easier to post photos as tweets, and improve the presentation of inline photos in your tweet stream, that I could see. ...
I also think there's a market for a killer iPhone photo filtering app: something less focused on retro faux-analog gimmicks and more focused on the sort of one-touch improvements you can make in desktop apps like Lightroom and Aperture. There are a slew of pretty good apps for the iPhone that let you make such improvements to your photos, but I still haven't seen one that's truly great -- combining a convenient fast workflow with aesthetically superior filters.
And, look, he's right. There is a lot of opportunity to innovate in this niche of mobile photo sharing.
In my view, there are four companies that have the opportunity to make a huge splash still in mobile photo sharing:
Instagram/Facebook: 100 million users. The core product works great. Any new innovations that are smart will get usage.
Twitter: Perfectly suited to mobile photos because it is a mobile service. Already shares a great deal of photos today through a perfectly boring and limited photo app. Its 175 million users will immediately start using the service if it's marginally better that the current offering. If it's as good as Instagram, it will spark mass usage. If it's better than Instagram, it will really generate a lot of usage.
Apple (AAPL): Apple has massive photo usage on its iPhone. It also has signed up an enormous amount of people to use its iCloud service to back up photos taken. Yet, it's stumbled to come up with an app to allow easy sharing of photos. You would think this is a natural area to improve but it hasn't.
Yahoo! (YHOO) with Flickr. People forget about the former king of mobile photos, Flickr. There's a good reason for that. It was totally neglected for the last seven years. It could have been Instagram. Even though nothing's happened at Flickr for a long time, it's got a great core app. Now it finally has some upper management love from Marissa Mayer and new SVP of mobile Adam Cahan. The company could still do a lot of interesting things with the core Flickr app and storage options to breathe some new life into Flickr. It can also play Switzerland to Apple, Samsung or others if it doesn't get its act together in this niche area.
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