Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Facebook Printing

So, no, this headline is not (solely) a cheap trick to get more hits for this blog, just as my post entitled Iphone Printing was more than just a traffic-builder. In that entry, I marveled at my new iPhone and predicted it would not be long for some optimist in the printer industry to soon come to the fore proclaiming Apple's latest entry to be a boon to printing. And it happened, a month later. (See "Printing from the Cloud".)

But on to Facebook and Printing. The Financial Times online carries an interview today with Mark Zuckerberg, founder of the immensely popular social networking site Facebook. And in the interview, conducted by Kevin Allison and Richard Waters of the FT's San Francisco bureau, Zuckerberg uses printing, specifically photo printing, to make a point about his site's popularity versus those of specialty photo sites.

There are these applications like Flickr and different photo sites that are really specifically engineered towards being great photo sites. They let you store high resolution photos. They let you print your photos so you can use them offline. They have good management tools for the albums and we actually don’t have any of that stuff.

Our photos that are stored are in a simple format. The printing is really not that great, right? And the management of photos is pretty lightweight. Yet, our photos application has more than twice as much usage as every other photos application on the web combined.

And the reason for that is because despite all the other features that other photo applications have, they don’t have the innate ability to know who your friends are and be able to say, 'Okay, you uploaded some photos. You want to share those with these people.' Or some of your friends uploaded some photos - here are all the photos that your friends have uploaded.


While this quote in the end really doesn't have so much to do with printing, it has a GREAT message about product design and marketing. We in the printing industry (or whatever industry) can get so involved with building the "better mousetrap" that we can lose out when things shift. Paying attention to user needs and shifting market dynamics might be a lot more important than cranking up the number of print-related features in our next new product or service!

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