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 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.