is there a photo/tech bubble ?

Google wants them, Amazon wants them, Twitter, Facebook, DropBox, Evernote , Yahoo wants them.  Everyone on the internet, it seems, wants your photos. And for good reasons:

• Photos are  what makes you come back over and over to a site/app. Not only your images but those of your friends, family, co-workers and even people you hardly know. We can get enough looking at pictures.

• Photos are a perfect conduit for information in a world where people have less than 8 seconds attention span. Need to quickly convey a message, explain something, make people react ? Nothing more powerful than photos.

•Photos are also what drives engagement. A few lines of text might make you proceed in wanting to know more but photos will make you want to buy something.

For these reasons, tech companies are hard at work in trying to find out what will make you use their, and only their service, to host, store, manage and share your photos.

The most current battleground is in trying to solve the archival dilemma. With 880 billion images poised to be taken in 2014, someone will need to host them. Flickr, Dropbox, G+, Amazon, Instagram will be  more than happy to oblige and beside vast amount of free space, they offer a vast array of enhancing features: Automated classification, automated slideshow creation, filters, tagging, editing.

In the race to become the most desirable destination, the big tech giants are in a buying frenzy for the next big thing, looking for that one feature that will beat all others.  Not a week goes by without the announcement of another photo/tech company being acquired. But is it going too far?

Dropbox acquisition of Bubbli, described by some as a 3D photo app, might be a sign that a bubble is forming, no pun intended.   Bubbli is not a 3D photo app. It takes a panorama and transforms it into a round QTVR (remember those ?) looking spheric image. Cute, maybe, but certainly not a killer app.  And the numbers prove it:

Bubbli's rank history for the US since launch
Bubbli’s rank history for the US since launch.                                                  Source App Annie

While having a respectable moment in the photo/video category, it hardly appears in the overall apps rankings. The iOS-only app is a gimmick that should be a feature in the camera settings of the next Samsung/iPhone device if anything. This acquisition shows that Dropbox, like it’s peers, is becoming desperate in finding the feature set that will drive adoption.  Carousel – Dropbox photo arching app- is not performing well, partly because it is not linked to any photo taking apps and therefore not part of anyone’s workflow.  However, Bubbli will certainly not solve that.

A Bubbli
A Bubbli

Will we see other no-sense acquisition in this space? certainly. Yahoo, as well as Apple and Google have huge treasure chests to spend and first player traction is a key part of their strategy. Finding the right app that will drive adoption- instead of creating it- is an appetizing shortcut to success even if it paved with possible indigestions. None are immune to failures but all are big enough for those to have any effect on their growth. So be ready to see the photo/tech world explode in fireworks of new overpriced acquisitions as the battleground for photo dominance becomes more violent. While this is good news for entrepreneurs and investors looking for a quick exit, it could quickly become an over-saturated market which will take years to recover.

Author: Paul Melcher

Paul Melcher is the founder of Kaptur. He is an entrepreneur, advisor, and consultant with a rich background in visual tech, content licensing, business strategy, and technology with more than 20 years experience in developing world-renowned photo based companies with already two successful exits.

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