It’s a given: we are all overwhelmed by the sheer number of photos we take, or that are being shared with us. With some of these, it’s no big deal if you accidentally missed viewing them, or if you can’t locate them again after you’ve first enjoyed them. With others, it does matter: According to our recent survey, 58% of photos on average are considered to be “long life” keepers.
So we want to know on which device or cloud service these important photos reside, and how to find them. As if that weren’t challenging enough, we also want to be able to safely back them up in case something goes wrong with the device on which they most likely reside (read: our phone) or archive them, in case that phone runs out of storage space.
The good news is we’re now seeing innovative vendors of photo app, device, and cloud storage solutions tackling the multiple challenges related to how consumers find and browse the photos that matter to them.
The following is an overview of these solutions, several of which will be demonstrated or discussed at our upcoming Mobile Photo Connect conference, October 24-25 in San Francisco:
Anywhere access
We all know consumers want to be able to access their photos from any device, at any time. However, two factors complicate things:
  • Whether or not photo cloud services were intended/promoted as backup and archiving solutions, consumers tend to think they were. Your phone was stolen, your house was destroyed, you accidentally deleted your photo folder? No worries, the thinking goes, your photos are safely in the cloud or synced to your various other devices. Are they, really? If so, at what resolution? Are all photos secured this way or just a subset of the most recent ones? Most consumers would be surprised and confused to learn that “anywhere access” photo cloud services don’t, in fact, meet all their backup or archiving needs.
  • To add to the confusion, pure syncing, aggregation, or “linking to the source” solutions are rarely provided. Instead, we see hybrid solutions, for instance, solutions that sync photos only at a lower resolution to the phone, or aggregation solutions that also cache recent photos on the phone to provide fast, as well as offline, access.
Bottom line: the average consumer has no idea what’s really going on: which of their photos are stored where, for how long, and at what resolution, and what would happen if their house was indeed destroyed, or their phone stolen.
Storage location
While consumers increasingly embrace the cloud for photo storage, it’s not a given that they’ll want to rely on cloud storage services for all their photo needs. For instance, in our survey, we found that 48% of our respondents who back up the majority of their smartphone photos still do so on in-home storage devices (40% do so in-home and in the cloud). In addition, we’re witnessing a resurgence of innovative in-home photo storage solutions. For instance, Kwilt, a developer known for its photo management solution that allows users to browse their photos on various cloud services, just announced their Kwilt Shoebox appliance. SanDisk not only provides its portable iXpand flash drives, it now also offers the iXpand Base.
Having unified access to your photos through a cloud or in-home solution is one thing, being able to find the photos that really matter when you need them is quite another. We’ve seen solutions progressing from leveraging metadata to using AI for auto-tagging of objects or people. The next battlefield is auto-curation of consumers’ “best” photos, however “best” is defined. At Mobile Photo Connect we’ll have several startups show or discuss their auto-curation solutions, including EyeEm in our AI is Ready for Primetime panel.
A sample of photo storage and management solutions to be discussed at Mobile Photo Connect 2017:
  • Adobe: In the creative process, anytime, anywhere access to photos is a must. Hear Adobe’s take on addressing these challenges in its Creative Cloud solutions.
  • Beamr: File size matters, not only for storage but also for up- or downloading photos or videos. Hear from Beamr how they enable consumers and cloud service providers to optimize media files.
  • EyeEm: Hear how this Berlin-based startup uses machine learning to identify which photos have the highest aesthetic value and deserve high visibility on their photo sharing site.
  • Google: Hear how Google deploys its image recognition and other curation technologies to aggregate the best photos for its own properties, including Google Maps, Google Trips, Google Flights, Zagat, Google Local Guides, and many others.
  • Kwilt: Hear how and why this cloud photo management startup is coming out with Kwilt Shoebox, a $49 Wi-Fi appliance that connects to any USB storage device, allowing consumers to seamlessly offload their smartphone photos and videos at home or wherever they have a storage device.
  • SanDisk: Making photos portable through photo-optimized iXpand flash drives is the SanDisk solution many of us know. A more recent product is the iXpand Base, a charging station for the iPhone that also serves to keep your photos and data safely backed up.
  • Upthere: Photos are not an island in a consumer’s anytime, anywhere access needs. How about Word files, PDFs, spreadsheets, you name it? Still, photos require their own intuitive UI and tools in order to be browsed, displayed and curated. Hear how Upthere strikes that delicate balance.

Mobile Photo Connect. These and other storage solutions providers will present at Mobile Photo Connect, October 24-25, in San Francisco! With 27 days to go before the conference, book your ticket now!

Kaptur is a proud media sponsor of Mobile Photo Connect

Photo by kin.lane

Author: Hans Hartman

Hans Hartman is president of Suite 48 Analytics, the leading research and analysis firm for the mobile photography market and organizer of Mobile Visual 1st, a yearly industry conference about mobile photography.

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