In a trial of six smartphone apps for photo printing services published in the July issue of leading Australian printing trade publication Proprint, the mobile-to-print apps from Harvey Norman and Big W came fifth and sixth in a six-horse race.
In fact, after the Big W app crashed four times, the trial was abandoned. Not a good look for Big W, photo retail printing, nor the software provided by Fujifilm.
The review looked only at remote ordering from smartphones, rather than wi-fi connection from smartphone to kiosk in-store. It came at the end of a 2000-word feature article by editor Steven Kiernan, looking at the emerging mobile-to-print market (M2P). As the reader who drew Photo Counter’s attention to the article, Garrett Rooney (3TC) noted, ‘interestingly they [the printing industry] seem to see value in the photo business’.
The Big W and Harvey Norman apps are from Fujifilm subsidiary Whitech, along with Fujifilm’s own yet-to-be-released Fujifilm Imagine Mobile app. They are presumably re-badged versions of the same app.
During the course of the article a Fujifilm Cloudnet spokesperson conceded that there is ‘room for improvement’ and it was ‘definitely early days of this technology’.
– So early that Fujifilm’s own version of the app, while notionally available from the iTunes store, is not mentioned on Fujifilm’s online print services website (which in turn is pretty well invisible on the main Fujifilm website).
Fujifilm’s strategy over the past five years or so has been to give a big head start to its two largest customers, Big W and Fujifilm, and basically let the devil take the hindmost – and it would appear this hasn’t changed as M2P services begin to be rolled out. Unfortunately, this leaves smaller businesses dependent on Fujifilm/Whitech software even further behind in the race than Fuji’s Big Two.
For the company which the photo industry relies on for innovation in photo services to fall so far behind leaves the door wide open for other businesses like digital printers to move in. On the iTunes store, the Harvey Norman app has a low rating of 2.5 stars, while Big W gets just 1.5 stars.
By comparison, some of the apps coming out of the printing-affiliated providors rate 4.5 and 5 stars.
Retailers anxious to tap into the M2P market but waiting for the Fujifilm Imagine Mobile solution to become available could be disappointed in the length of wait, and the quality of what they end up with.
Kodak has not rolled out a smartphone app in Australia but in the US has an iPhone app which sends orders to Target (US). (Soon for an Officeworks store near you?)
Reader Comment added: Just to put things in perspective, Kodak do have an app for Apple and Android for the transfer of files to the kiosks. Our customers love it, and it works well. The only way we get files off iPhones with Whitech is via a cable and its as slow as hell. – Alan Logue, Hutt St Photos.
Lifepics (partnered in Australia by Photo Direct) is more advanced in smartphone apps than others focussed on the photo retailing sector, with a ‘white label’ app for both iPhone (3.5 star customer rating) and Android, which points customers towards the nearest Lifepics-affiliated retailer, while Ted’s Cameras has its own branded version of the Lifepics app (although you won’t find it easily from the Ted’s website).
The six apps tested were Moonpig (iPhone, Android), Touchnote (iPhone, iPad, Android), Australia Post Postcards app (iPhone only); Picture Postie (iPhone only) which competes directly with photo retail services and gets a 5-star rating; Fujifilm-Harvey Norman (iPhone, Android just released); and its clone Fujifilm-Big W (iPhone and Android just released).
Touchnote, Australia Post Postcard and Moonpig all offer the user the ability to add a postcard-like message to the printed photo and have a sensibly higher price.
To access the Proprint article, click here.