Smartphone apps that print photos are doing more than delivering an increasing share of print vendors’ revenues: they’re also attracting new customers who haven’t previously engaged in printing, according to the just-published Photo Output App Market study by Suite 48 Analytics.

Prime examples include:

–       Over 20% of Snapfish’ mobile app customers are new to Snapfish

–       Over 50% of major European photo product vendor CeWe’s first-time mobile purchasers are new customers

This new trend upends the conventional wisdom that smartphone photographers are only interested in sharing digital photos through social network or messaging platforms, and are therefore not a potential market for printed photo products such as photo prints, photobooks, photo postcards, or photo-enriched phone cases.

Other findings show that Seven of the ten most downloaded photo output apps per day offer photo prints.

• Four out of the ten most downloaded photo output apps have run or are running extensive promotions for freephoto output products.

•  Touchnote occasionally runs promotions by offering free postcards, sponsored by big brand companies, whose logo then appears on the back of the postcards.

•   Snapfish offers 100 free photo prints per month to anyone who has downloaded its mobile apps (the promo is for 12 months; shipping and handling is not free).

•   Both the Android and iOS versions of Free Prints from PlanetArt, a subsidiary of French software maker Avanquest, offer unlimited free photo prints and only charge for shipping and handling. As described in 7. The free apps chapter, the iOS version of Free Prints is the only photo output app that has an average user rating of 5.0.

However, photo printing app developers remain challenged to generate awareness and sizable download numbers for their apps. According to the study, which analyzed 137 photo product apps, the apps’ median downloads to date are only 62,000 and just 20% of the apps have been downloaded more than 500,000 times. By comparison, even today’s 100th ranked photo category app in the US iOS app store has had more than 1 million downloads.

Output downloads
Output downloads







“Many smartphone photographers clearly want the ability to order photo products on occasion. However, for many these occasions aren’t frequent enough to warrant downloading and installing a dedicated app,” said Hans Hartman, author of the report.

“In fact, smartphone photographers might not even be aware that they can order output products unless the feature is visible someplace where they frequently engage with their photos, such as in an app for image enhancement or one for photo organization. The win/win here, for both customers and vendors, is migrating the print function from being a product to being a feature. How we get there from here will be a key topic at this year’s Mobile Photo Connect conference on September 29”.

The Photo Output App Market report consists of 68 pages and includes 14 charts and 12 tables.  It can be ordered at



Author: Paul Melcher

Paul Melcher is a highly influential and visionary leader in visual tech, with 20+ years of experience in licensing, tech innovation, and entrepreneurship. He is the Managing Director of MelcherSystem and has held executive roles at Corbis, Stipple, and more. Melcher received a Digital Media Licensing Association Award and is a board member of Plus Coalition, Clippn, and Anthology, and has been named among the “100 most influential individuals in American photography”


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