I thought I’d take a trip around the web this month, so rather than focus on a single theme, I’m going to shine a light on a bunch of web-related tidbits that are happening in cyberspace today that you should be aware of.
That being said, Facebook is always a great place to start, and the recent news of their interesting “Want” button is one that retailers will surely want to take a closer look at. FB visitors will soon be able to alert their friends when they want a particular product on Facebook by clicking this new option. Rumor has it the social network might be launching the “Want” button by the time you read this.
We are told the “Want” button’s launch may also coincide with several other buttons that will enable a shopper to note that he/she Read, Listened or Watched various pieces of content on particular products.
Bottom line here is the fact that these new buttons will likely enable Facebook to gather more information about consumers’ behavior. The more information Facebook gathers, the more marketers can target ads at specific consumers. Figuring out when and how to post your FB messages as a retailer will be key as the social network train rolls along.
Who would have thought the addition of the color white would brighten the LCD screen world? Well, apparently it has, as Sony recently announced that by adding a white subpixel to the LCD process they have dramatically improved both the power consumption and outdoor visibility of a 3.0-inch VGA LCD module and are squarely aiming the technology at the digital camera and smartphone markets. They’re calling the LCD “WhiteMagic.”
As you may or may not know, standard LCDs have red, green and blue (RGB) subpixels. Despite the fact that the addition of a white pixel can cause image-quality deterioration, Sony is claiming its analysis of the input picture data and a new signal-processing algorithm overcome these issues.
The module Sony has demonstrated actually has two modes: one that reduces backlight power consumption by around 50%; and a second that approximately doubles the brightness to greatly improve outdoor visibility. The display also has a 160º viewing angle. All three of these issues have plagued LCD viewing for years.
More Interactive Online Images
Attempting to do for web images what Google did for text, the Mountain View, California-based start-up Luminate is launching what they are calling a new imaging platform for online image applications. By launching applications from within individual images on websites, Luminate claims to be “opening a new world of image apps, breaking down a wall and bringing flat, static images to life.”
The company, formerly named Pixazza, explains that within this new platform, online images become more than visual stimuli—they become a gateway for accessing rich and relevant content across the web. The apps available on the Luminate platform will allow users to not only conduct their favorite everyday online activities such as shopping, sharing, commenting and navigating directly from the images, but now they’ll also be able to facilitate entirely new services made possible by the development of apps specifically for images.
When you see the Luminate icon in the corner of an image, it indicates that the image is interactive. You then simply move your mouse into the image and choose from a variety of image apps. You can easily share an image or specific points within an image with your friends, discover statistics about a favorite athlete, see where to purchase similar products to those featured in the photo, uncover the latest information about a particular event, reveal geotag or Wikipedia information, read more content about the people or places featured in an image, listen to music or see a movie trailer related to that image.
Check out a demo video of Luminate’s imaging platform at youtube.com/watch?v=PRAoHV-uBHE. Very cool.
Just How Many Prints?
From portable printers that can literally sit beside the coffeemaker in the kitchen to the tried-and-true ATM-style photo kiosks sitting in thousands of retail locations and the dozens of online services clamoring for consumers’ dollars, digital shutterbugs certainly don’t want for photo printing options. So then, we are constantly left to ponder, where are people printing their photos? And, more interestingly, just how many photos are people printing a year?
According to the research firm Lyra, we made 26.9 billion photo prints in 2010 (mind you, this is a worldwide number). Of these, 13.5 were ordered online and 13.4 were printed at home. This sounds like a lot, but it’s really not. In the U.S. alone, it’s estimated we take over 80 million photos a year.
While you’ll never convince your customers to print all the images they’re capturing, the fact they taking record numbers of digital photos annually makes it easier and easier to make a case for doing more with some of them rather than just dumping them on a drive or letting them sit on their smartphone . . . no?
Speaking of Doing More with Images . . .
It’s nice, in this era of smartphone apps and social networks, to see a new online service popping up that’s centered on photo prints. And that’s what Picplum.com is all about. It’s designed to automate the process of getting favorite photo prints out to your friends and family.
During sign-up, users input the names and addresses of people they’d like photo prints mailed to. Then, when they upload the photos (including through a drag-and-drop menu), Picplum will automatically mail them 15 4×6-inch photos every month. The service costs $7 a month. There’s a pay-as-you-go plan, too, for those who don’t want to mail the full 15 photos every month.
It’s an interesting idea and is certainly appealing if you need to send photos to, say, grandparents or anyone else not interested in (or addicted to) e-mail—a group certainly worth catering to . . . yes?
Lost & Never Found
And lastly: have you ever wondered just how many of your customers have lost photos? InfoTrends recently had an answer to this question in a survey they did in Western Europe, and the results are that 40% of consumers over there have lost “some or all” of their photos.
We can only assume the figure here in the U.S. is undoubtedly similar—and we have eyed past studies that put the number in that ballpark. So we’ll say this, if you’re not engaging your customers in this discussion, shame on you. Talk about what they’re doing to safeguard their digital memories and regularly offer up tips and advice. Images lost, along with being memories that are now gone forever, are also images that will never be turned into prints, merchandise . . . or profits.