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The Return of the Arcade

When the basics become commoditized, invest in your CX

This weekend, the wonderful Casey Newton over at The Verge posted a comprehensive review of the many, leading photo backup and cloud storage services. Nearly every service listed offers oodles of storage, location tagging and auto-backup from my mobile device. The very basics of photo backup have become commoditized.  

But these photo services were built by engineers to solve a technical issue - limited storage space. What these products lack is an understanding of our human needs - sorting, fixing, viewing and sharing photos.  With cloud storage quotas growing to near-irrational sizes, storage size is no longer a rational differentiator. To stand apart, it's time for a focus on the customer's needs and customer experience. 

A focus on CX would produce a "mom friendly" one-click service. Once you download the app, your photos and videos would automatically backed up to the cloud, and possibly also to your home computer. Photos and videos would be automatically fixed, doing the basics like removing blur, shakes and red eye. Parents will appreciate automated tagging of children (the spec is simple - define the face a few times, and it will be automatically tagged moving forward). De-duping and simple, controlled sharing (with one click sharing to Facebook, WhatsApp, Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram) would round out the basic feature set. And lastly, this service would allow users to easily send photos to their favorite online photo printing services.

Google+ has many of these features, but it's stuck on Google+. My Mom doesn't even realize she has a Google account and would never understand their sharing or sorting features. Once again, Google+ photos is a great technical solution, but a bit more focus on the CX would make it far more user-friendly. Way back in 2013 I shared my frustrations with the mobile photo backup space. Reading Casey's thorough roundup, most of my frustrations remain.

But there is a ray of hope.

  • Microsoft's new corporate direction shows a strong push towards freemium and cloud based tools. One Drive is a nice solution, and a bit more work would make this a more viable photo back and management solution. Microsoft also seems the most likely to build in deep integrations with leading "sharing" services such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram.
  • Google+ Photos is probably the most capable solution from a big name company, and their recent moves to integrate photos into Google Drive are a step in the right direction. But Google needs to translate their technical tools into a simpler customer experience, building in better third-party sharing integrations, better tagging and lifting their storage quotas a bit to remain viable for more than a couple of years worth of photos.
  • Facebook Photos already allows me to tag my kids, and will automatically back up all the photos on my phone. Their automated photo fix tools are also becoming increasingly capable. Better photo search, tagging and downloading features would round out their app.
  • DropBox's Carousel is nice, but it's still not feature-rich enough for me to consider a real "mom-ready" browsing and management solution.

What would you want to see in a CX-centered photo and video backup and management solution?