My dictionary (online of course) defines "manna" as "a usually sudden and unexpected source of gratification, pleasure, or gain" and while I might be exaggerating a little here, bear with me.
I'm attending "Connections 2007 -- The Digital Living Conference and Showcase" and just sat through a very interesting presentation by Parks and Associates Director of Research John Barrett, entitled "Social Media and Web 2.0". Barrett was summarizing Parks' findings from three recent studies, entitled Digital Media Habits, Global Digital Living and Web 2.0 & the New Net. And while I'm admittedly a "printing and imaging guy", I'm never expecting much if any direct discussion of my chosen industry at an event like this, no matter how interesting the topics may be in a broader sense (and how much down-the-road impact, plus or minus, might ultimately be at stake for printing and imaging). HOWEVER, that was not the case today!
Among the expected discussion topics including the heavy age bias in social networking activities like the use of MySpace, instant messaging and blogging (yes, the kids do it!), and the difficulty (but not impossibility) of monetizing this huge cultural trend, one area was hit on multiple times -- perhaps the most lucrative area for today's social networking revenues relates to photo sharing and resultant photo PRINTING! Barrett quoted the studies where more than twice as many social networkers spent money on printing photos (either at home or by ordering online) than any other activity. An example -- one of the studies, with data from Q3 2006, revealed 33% paying for printing photos at least once a month, more than twice as many as the #2 item, paying for using an online dating services.
The idea that there is paying and profitable business to be had in this industry is of course not lost on industry leaders like HP (NYSE HPQ) with their Snapfish service, and Eastman Kodak Company with their EasyShare Gallery. But it's still fascinating (and encouraging) to get a glimpse of how relatively important it is in the Social Networking/Web 2.0 ecosystem, especially from a reliable source outside the P&I business. One other factoid: