Last week, another photo sharing app hit the scene. But before you commence with groaning, Piictu is more than just another photo sharing app, it’s “a fun and simple way to talk and play with pics”. Still groaning? Hold on just a second. In a crowded space, Piictu’s value proposition is that it is offering a new kind of visual network where interactions take place through direct “picture conversations” — not just your average, run-of-the-mill photo sharing.
Piictu Founder Jonathan Slimak says that photos are traditionally static objects of memory, so with his new photo sharing app, he wanted to transform pictures into a conversation medium, and objects of interaction. But what does this mean exactly?
In terms of the daily Piictu experience, for starters, a user uploads a picture, gives it a caption, and immediately receives picture-based responses from other Piictu users, which forms — yup — a picture stream. Where this differs from the pack is that Piictu’s streams are set up in such a ways as they can then be made in the form of a sequential game or center around a question like, “who’s your favorite Ninja Turtle?” As to the former, Slimak cited the example of a number game that focuses on picture-based replies that continue the sequence in a game. For instance, I upload a picture of a vanity license plate that reads “Number 1″ and you might respond with a picture of a two dollar bill, and so on.
Slimak says that the idea came from his experience watching the World Series on TV. His friends were posting pictures of themselves in their favorite teams’ jerseys to a group MMS app. The problem is that most of these images would never be seen again, lost in the pile, but still had great future value for ongoing conversations. So, Slimak created Piictu as an optimization of MMS group chat, with an obvious nod to Instagram.
“Instagram does photo sharing perfectly”, he said, but there’s still room for photos to become the source of rich conversations and game-ified interactions. If you’re one that thinks one picture is really worth a thousand words, then Piictu is the app for you. What’s more, if you were a Photovine user, look no further. The experience of Piictu is remarkably similar to Google’s app, which was retired last month when the Googles shut down Slide.
Giving the TechStars startup a further boost, we’ve learned, is a recent infusion of $750,000 in seed funding, led by SoftBank Capital, RRE Ventures, and Betaworks. The round also included angels like Jon Steinberg from Buzzfeed, Josh Guttman from Outbrain, as well as others.
Picture streams have been increasing in popularity in tandem with the rise of microblogging. Just as Twitter recently added image galleries to each user’s profile, so are many platforms looking to take advantage of the rise in pictorial conversation (thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones and their cameras). Each photo sharing app has to find its niche, and Piictu has already gained some early adoption as a result of its bet that picture streams will only continue to play an increasingly important role in how we interact and converse in our daily life.
And, as is the trend today, it doesn’t hurt to open the platform up to game-ified use cases. Slimak said that, going forward the team plans to add leaderboards to each new photo stream, with the number of “likes”, shares, and views likely determining its ranking.
As to how Piictu plans to monetize its free app? The founder said that he sees Piictu as a great venue by which brands can engage visually with their customers and encourage them to submit original, user-generated content — though it remains to be seen how that will manifest.
But my hunch is that the team just might be onto something with their focus on conversational photo streams. Stay tuned for more.