Photo sharing is a crowded market. Between the hipsters adding a greyscale filter to their Instagram shots and youths sexting each other on Snapchat (and not to mention Facebook and Twitter), there's not a great deal of space for a new entrant to come in and shake things up.
But that's not stopped Cobra Beer co-founder Lord Bilimoria having a go. The crossbench peer has just launched PictoSo, an app that lets people 'instantly' share photographs with their contacts. Users take pictures, edit them and save them to albums which are then available to be viewed by friends and family.
'We are witnessing the convergence of a number of trends: smartphone usage rising significantly, broadband access and speed expanding rapidly; and the cost of data storage and digital tools falling,' said Bilimoria, who is joined in the venture by his cousin Rashid Bilimoria and software developer Philipp Reisinger. 'It’s clear that now is the time to launch an app that makes it easier for users to share their photos instantly.'
He might seem like an unlikely techie but Bilimoria has plenty of experience breaking into a crowded market. He built Cobra Beer up to annual revenues in the tens of millions before it went into administration in 2009, and it remains a popular accompaniment to curry today. But it will be difficult for PictoSo to stand out. Many of its supposedly 'unique' features, including editing 'with filters, effects and stickers, and [annotating] with captions', video sharing and cloud storage, are also available on Snapchat and/or Instagram.
PictoSo's technology isn't exactly revolutionary but the business does have its merits. For a start it has focused on the 'family' element. 'We have designed this app to have the greatest functionality and an intuitive interface, so that it can be used by people of all ages,' said Reisinger.
That might make it extremely unappealing to teenagers who have grown tired of grandparents commenting on their Facebook statuses, but older smartphone users are a growing market. Meanwhile, both Bilimorias have plenty of experience of doing business in India, where smartphone use is seriously beginning to take off.
PictoSo doesn't seem likely to become the new Facebook, but then neither did Facebook at this stage. Bilimoria will certainly have a challenging time convincing people to switch from Instagram and Snapchat - he may want to sup a couple of Cobras for Dutch courage.