Camera apps scramble for survival in Facebook’s shadow, PicPlz bows out first


With Instagram now under Facebook’s wing and the social network even launching its own Camera app, competition is stiff when it comes to photo sharing. And we’ve seen our first casualty. PicPlz, a long-time mobile photo sharing app and Instagram competitor, announced in a blog post that the service will shut down permanently on July 3.

In the pithy blog post, Mixed Media Labs, the company that had branched off PicPlz as a separate entity, expressed regret and offered users a means of downloading all existing photos prior to permanently wiping out its servers.

It has been a pleasure bringing picplz to our users, but we have decided to move on to other projects and have made the tough decision to shut it down. On July 3, 2012, picplz will shut down permanently, and all photos and user data will be deleted. Until then, users may download their own photos by clicking on the download link next to each photo in their photo feed.

Early in the game back in 2010, Instagram and PicPlz were the clear competitors, but PicPlz had the support it needed and appeared to be a winner, despite Instagram’s adoption at a rate twice that of PicPlz. First, Andreessen Horowitz, a prominent VC firm, invested a small amount of capital in both Instagram and PicPlz, before deciding to fully back PicPlz due to a conflict of interest. Second, even long before Instagram debuted its highly anticipated Android app, PicPlz had offered both Android and an iPhone app.

PicPlz has decided to fold in order to focus on its other projects, according to TechCrunch. Dalton Caldwell, a PicPlz board member, revealed the next steps for the PicPlz team in an email.

As a board member I have been supportive of the strategic decisions they have been making.

In terms of this specific move, as has been stated before, the team that is operating picplz has been bootstrapping (ie not raising money). As part of this bootstapping effort, they recently launched a paid iPad app for Pinterest users called pinflip:

pinflip has been doing very well and is currently the #5 paid iPad app in social networking in the US.

After Facebook’s $1 billion acquisition of Instagram, its acquisition of Lightbox (which will also be shuttered), and the debut of Facebook Camera, many competitors have been scrambling to strategize for their survival.

For example, Hipstimatic announced the debut of “Snap,” its monthly digital culture magazine for the iPad, and “Make Beautiful,” a project that streams photos to Instagram and Twitter, along with a publicly available database of downloadable Hipstamatic artwork for repurposing.

It should be an interesting development to see how smaller competitors including Burstn, Dailybooth and will fold, adopt or expand their business model in the seemingly monopolistic environment that Facebook has created for camera apps.