Author Archives: joalexelli

RIP PicPlz

As the photo sharing war continues to rage, some are lost to the battle. Instagram competitor PicPlz will shut down operations July 3rd.  The application will not only shut down, but also delete all images. Developer of PicPlz, Mixed Media Labs is explaining the close with this message:

“On July 3, 2012, picplz will shut down permanently and all photos and data will be deleted.
Until then, you can log in and download your photos by clicking on the download link next to each photo in your photo feed.
Thank you for your support of picplz and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.”

Despite the seemingly never ending user base for photo sharing, some apps are failing. PicPlz was a viable competitor at first, particularly because the app was available to both Android and iPhone users before Instagram was.

However, it seems that since Instagram blew up, gained popularity, and released the API, PicPlz could not compete.

To be honest, it was my least favorite of the photo sharing apps. Nonetheless, RIP PicPlz, I’m sure some users will miss you :/


Apple iCloud and Tadaa – The Photo Sharing War Continues

Apple is to announce an overhaul of their iCloud service at their developers conference this June 11th. Many recent news articles have pointed out the similarities of the update to Instagram. The update will add sharing, commenting, and videos to the photo syncing part of their iCloud service – Photo Stream. Currently, the service only provides for uploading photos, but it seems that Apple is hoping to offer a social network. Apple is approaching the app from an exclusivity angle, only allowing comments on photos that were uploaded by certain Apple devices. Some point out the possibility that users who were turned off by the Facebook buy-out might switch to this service.

Apple Photo Syncing with iCloud
Update Coming Soon

Another application has recently entered the competitive space, Tadaa. The app comes from Hamburg, Germany and is available for free in the Apple store. Tadaa is an HD Pro cam, and people like it. The app has 4.5 stars out of 5, with an impressive 1538 ratings. Tadaa features a larger number of options and tabs than most, with a “New” and “Awesome” tab. The Awesome tab allows users to view “Trending”, “Featured”, and a “Special Lense” category that changes each week. The Featured section shows photos selected by Tadaa, providing a marketing incentive. However, the photos that rise to the top in the Trending section are voted there by the users, a feature Instagram is missing (sometimes photos make it to the “Popular” section on Instagram, because the user is well-liked, not the picture).  The next screen provides three more sections, “Challenge”, “24H Charts”, and “New Users”. From what I can gather, the challenges are things like “Photo a Day May” or “Me Myself and I.”  The 24H Charts show you photos from the last 24 hours and New Users gives new members the chance to get their photos out there, despite their lack of reputation.

New and Awesome Screen

The app also features a different type of photo feed. Tadaa shows the photos next to their comments in the feed, same if you repost someone’s photo. You can also choose to view them as full-size pics. The app conveniently allows users to zoom into the photo to get a better look. The app allows you to “like” comments, but not hashtag.

Sample of List View

Tadaa offers a chance for users to build a type of reputation through Tadaa dollars, an amount displayed at the top of their page, based on the number of comments and likes they have accumulated.
In terms of editing, the app offers an advanced blur feature, as well as 22 filters. Tadaa allows you to view the filters in real-time, so you can see what it will look like before you take the picture. You can also zoom in and out within camera in the app, a feature I often wish I had on Instagram. In addition, you can take a picture with the application, and you do not need to post it. I often worry if the picture I take saves in my phone gallery if I decide not to upload it on Instagram.
Namely, Tadaa offers a high quality photo, via their HD system. Apple offers an exclusive system with the device structure already built in. With these growing competitors, will the Instagram bubble burst?


Socialmatic – InstaCamera

Instagram Socialmatic Camera

As the Instagram hype continues, businesses looking to cash out on the phenomenon proliferate. A new player has come up with a very different type of Instagram concept – the Socialmatic camera.
This camera is purely conceptual at this point, but the creator, ADR Studios, is working to gain support. De Rosa, ADR Studio’s Italian Designer company, is currently requesting contributions toward the creation of the camera. Though I am not sure how many people have made contributions, according to the website, the average contribution is an impressive $70. It is possible we could see this camera on the market in the near future.

The camera will look like the Instagram logo, and feature a large flat screen for ease of use. The Socialmatic would have two lenses, one for taking pictures, and the other for scanning the QR Codes that are included on each individual photograph. The camera would offer 16GB of internal storage, allowing users to store the photos directly on the device. In addition, the camera would feature WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities, allowing users to post and view media. Perhaps most important, the camera would function like a polaroid camera, boasting four color cartridges and special Instagram photo paper. This photo paper would have a strip of post-it like glue on the back. In addition, each photo would feature a QR Code, allowing other users to scan the QR code and find the photo-taker online.
Users can now take a photo, post online and share with followers, and print the photo – anywhere, anytime.

Though the camera is just a concept, it will be interesting to see if Instagram would choose to sell the rights/license to use the Instagram logo. Could this be a possible revenue stream for Instagram – even if they were simply collecting small royalties?


InstaCompetition Continues

As buzz around Instagram and social sharing networks continues to build, competitors become increasingly relevant. Here we’ll take a look at the competitors in an in-depth extension of an earlier post.

Hipster –Camera and filters like Instagram, but rectangular. To these, users can add locations and comments, creating postcards. The app will also add the location automatically through GPS. Some reviews mention issues with glitches when certain filters are chosen. The concept of the application is very cool, and I personally enjoy using it. I haven’t had any issues yet, but hopefully the app can get the issues worked out.

  • As of Jan 19th, 2012 the app had 100,000 users (1).
  • From GooglePlay site: Rated 3.7/5 (203 ratings).
  • 10,000-50,000 downloads from the Android market in the last 30 days.

Hipster Postcard

Picplz – an app much like Instagram, with camera filters and a built in social network. The meme creator function is a nice feature. Many people love the app, but have been experiencing problems with updates.

  • 40,000 Monthly Active Users through Facebook (2)
  • From GooglePlay site: Rated 4.0/5 (8,346 ratings)
  • 1M-5M installs from the Android market in the last 30 days


EyeEm – Groups photos based on categories – locations, what you are doing, a certain type of food, etc. – much like hashtags. This idea makes it easier to find new friends or followers. Many reviewers are requesting Google + integration, which could say something about user demographics. Some comments about glitches, but overall the app seems to perform smoothly.

  • 20,000 MAU through Facebook (3)
  • From GooglePlay site: Rated 4.0/5 (388 ratings)
  • 10,000-50,000 downloads from Android market in the last 30 days.


PicYou – an Instagram-like app that boasts itself as exclusively for the iPhone. However, the reviews displayed on the App store site are negative. Someone actually recommends Instagram over the app, and another calls the app “really lame.”  With 100,00 monthly active users through Facebook vs. 17 million on Instagram, I believe much of this negative sentiment comes from the fact that the social network is so much smaller than Instagram’s.
Overall, it seems that PicYou doesn’t really offer any additional services compared to Instagram.

  • 100,000 MAU through Facebook (4)
  • Rated 3.5/5 (353 ratings) on the Apple app store.


Path – a “smart journal that lets you share your life with the ones you love.” (5)The app is designed for use between close friends, and it limits the number of friends to 150. However, you can still upload photos through Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Tumblr. An interesting feature – users can respond to moments with one of five emotions: smile, frown, gasp, laugh and love. The reviews for the app are extremely positive, with a larger fan base than most that is actively growing. The application offers an interface that is described as “beautiful” and “snazzy and sleek” in most recent reviews.

  • 570,000 Monthly Active Users through Facebook alone (6)
  • From GooglePlay site: Rated 4.2/5 (11,467 ratings)
  • 500,000-1M installs from Android market in the last 30 days


To put it all in perspective, here is a quick summary on Instagram. The comments in the Apple store state that the app is “better than Facebook” and “this is the best app ever I LOVE THIS APP.” The reviews on GooglePlay are just as good. I suppose there is something to be said for a streamlined experience and a massive social network.

  • 17 million Monthly Active Users through Facebook alone, and 40 million overall (App data, reference old post)
  • From GooglePlay site, Rated 4.6/5 (601,428 ratings)
  • 10M-50M Android installs in the last 30 days
  • From the Apple store site, Rated 5/5 (537,624 ratings)

Instagram – Red Bull Photo Contest Winner

Have you ever used these competitor apps? 

Viddy – Insta….Video?

The iPhone app of the week, Viddy, is gaining popularity among creators and users of mobile media. Available for iPhone currently, and possibly other platforms later, the application is much like Instagram, but with videos.

Viddy Effects Screen

According to the Viddy website, “Viddy is a simple way for anyone to capture, produce, and share beautiful videos with the world. Record a moment of your life, give it that cinematic look with our production packs, and share it with those who matter most.” The application allows users to take a video, trim the video, and add effects. The videos can then be uploaded to Viddy’s online site, or to Facebook and Viddy has received media coverage this week due to a recent high-profile joiner, Mark Zuckerberg. Though he only has one video as of Monday, he has thousands of followers. The reasons he states for joining are reminiscent of his response when he joined Pinterest. Zuckerberg has a presence on many social media sites, such as Google+ and Twitter. However, his membership and use does speak volumes for the rising interest in the app, and has served to build buzz around Viddy.

As of Monday, the app had 16 million users, adding 500,000 news users a day. On Viddy’s first year anniversary, April 11th, they had just passed 4 million users. The app is also partnering with Facebook, and integrated their mobile video service into FB’s new Timeline. Though many app developers have been utilizing the Facebook mobile platform and their Timeline switchover, Viddy stands out. After launching their Timeline app in February, Viddy went from 60,000 active users to over 1.7 million. In addition, there have been more than 15 million interactions with Viddy content on Facebook since Viddy launched its Timeline app.

Viddy vs. Instagram

Viddy has consistently been called the Instagram of videos, but why? The picture on the left shows a direct comparison between the home screens of both apps. The layouts of both screens are almost identical, particularly the buttons along the bottom. The concept is the same as Instagram, but with videos (perhaps upping the ante on self-expression and creativity?).

In addition, the rising popularity of Viddy offers similar marketing incentives as those provided through Instagram. Viddy can be used for interaction, to allow users to make commercials, to hold contests, etc. In the world of social media and Internet marketing, Viddy is something to keep your eye on.

Have you ever heard of Viddy?



In November of 2012, Instagram implemented their first ever brand partnership, with National Geographic. Regarding the decision, CEO of Instagram Kevin Systrom states:
“National Geographic makes a ton of sense as an initial partner – they’re a fantastic company with such a rich visual history. Given that they’re so visually oriented, it’s a no-brainer that we’re going to be trying some interesting stuff out with them over the next few months.”

NatGeo seeks to build customer engagement, through contests or by crowd-sourcing photos for an upcoming story. Also, the company’s professional photographers and reporters could begin to take images “on-the-ground” creating a “live” and more interactive version of NatGeo.

With the waning prevalence of print media and the takeover of online versions, paid subscription circulation declined for the second year in 2010.

Paid Subscriptions Declined for the Second Consecutive Year

Being one of the top 25 magazines, National Geographic was among its cohorts with a decline in overall circulation between 2009 and 2010. Impressively, NatGeo is sixth among the most circulated magazines. As can be seen from this chart, the company faces a lesser decline than most.

NatGeo’s ability to stay relevant to the current generation is exemplified in their move to work with Instagram. By marketing to younger customers, the magazine has been able to bolster against the downfall of the print industry. The NatGeo Instagram photos can be viewed online, or add them on Instagram at natgeo.

Recently, NatGeo ran a contest through Instagram to draw attention to the 150th episode of the Dog Whisperer. Fans were asked to bake a cake to celebrate the anniversary. January 31st through February 10th, fans could submit Instagram pictures of their homemade cakes with the hashtag #natgeowild and #happy150. February 11th, during the airing of the 150th episode, the winner of the contest was posted on Instagram. The winning photo was also featured on the homepage of (Cesar is the name of the dog whisperer, for those of you out the pet loop), and Cesar telephoned the winner personally.

As of mid-2011, NatGeo was no longer the only media producer partnering with Instagram. News outlets including NPR, ABC News, MTV and NBC are using Instagram to build a more intimate relationship with their audience. However, the aforementioned outlets do not traditionally operate in print. Instead, “it provides a very different perspective to our followers than what they encounter on the Web or TV,” according to Joe Ruffalo (senior vice president at ABC News Digital).

With the rising popularity of Instagram, others might want to consider contests and crowd-sourced photos as a marketing tool to build awareness, exposure, and involvement.

As a consumer, have you ever participated in an Instagram contest?


Instagram has swept away Internet and mobile users into a world of filtered photos, with a heart as a “like” button. Comments are not as widely used and instead, viewing is king. Take and edit a photo, post it, scroll through others photos, scroll, see how many people liked your photo, then scroll some more; the idea is simple. But as with all basic and useful ideas, popularity spread, and imitators have emerged. Now that some users have turned up their noses at Instagram due to the Facebook takeover, where will they turn for photosharing?

Some of the new apps have photosharing (a social network) built-in, such as:

Hipster – the same concept as Instagram but with rectangular photos. To these, users can add locations and comments, basically creating postcards.

Picplz – a social photography app with a sophisticated editing program, even features a function to make memes out of your photos.

EyeEm – groups shared photos by categories such as coffee, New York, etc.

PicYou – an Instagram-like app that boasts itself as exclusively for the iPhone.

Jittergram – allows you to create a 3D-like image, called a stereogram or stereograph.

Path – an Android app called a “smart journal that lets you share your life with the ones you love.”

Other competitors take exclusively from the editing aspect of the application, offering only filters and photo editing. Some examples of these are Camera Awesome, Pixlr-O-Matic, CamWow, Camera+, Hipstamatic, and Retro Camera Plus. Though these apps do not have the social network built-in, the photos can be exported to other social photosharing apps, as well as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. Hipstamatic even went so far as to forge a partnership with Instagram this March, granting users the ability to upload their Hipstamatic photos directly to their Instagrams.

Despite the failure of these competitors to reach the entire market of photosharers, some because they haven’t had the chance, and others because they decide not to (iPhone-only Apps), the recent acquisition of Instagram has pushed customers to look for alternatives. According to a recent article by Franzen, the Facebook acquisition had an extremely positive effect on PicYou downloads; and PicYou is not embarrassed to admit to the hope that users would consciously switch to their app because of the takeover.

Though competitors have seen and apparently seized their opportunity, it is hard to imagine any of these single apps rising above the intense popularity and streamlined experience provided by Instagram. Many competitor apps lack a social network, the driving force behind Instagram’s growth. The 40 million users of Instagram share their filtered photos with the online and mobile app, providing a rich network of followers, those who are followed, personal comments and clicked hearts. As Instagram builds additional partnerships and perhaps as Facebook initiates takeovers, the app will continue to dominate. The rich social network provided by the application is exclusive to Instagram. Users can login directly through Facebook, making it very easy to find other users you know and might want to follow, the very first time you use the app.

As with all social media applications, larger numbers of users contributes heavily to the value and enjoyment of Instagram. As a result, competitor apps much catch up in user numbers and the number of posts before they can dream of Instagram-like success.

Sources: 123