By Allan Maurer
How can you make a still photograph shot on a smartphone tell more of a story? Add sound. That’s the idea behind Atlanta-based StoryMark’s mobile app, currently available for the iPhone with an Android version not far behind.
Taking and sharing photos is big business, as Instagram’s billion-dollar sale to Facebook makes plain. InfoTrends reports that more than 11 billion photos were taken with mobile devices and shared online in 2010 with expectations that number will double by 2015 across social networks.
But unless you shoot video, the pictures are silent. StoryMark’s mobile app gives them a voice without requiring the fatter video files.
We interviewed StoryMark founder and President Dale McIntyre following the firm’s appearance at TechMedia’s Digital Summit in Atlanta May 9-10, where McIntire says they handed out 600 cards printed for the event in less than six hours.
Hot conference experience
“We ran out because it was such an active conference. There were people from all sorts of companies. Developers, entrepreneurs, venture funds, CEOs, marketers. We made a lot of good contacts and I would recommend the conference to anyone, anytime.” (TechMedia’s next two events are Digital East in DC in October and The Internet Summit in Raleigh in November.)
McIntyre says his four-person company, funded by private investors, expects to seek additional funding in the future.
Currently, it is giving away the first version of its StoryMark app in the Apple iTunes store, but the firm will be adding features to monetize it soon.
The app allows users to shoot a photo and then add sound, which it marries together. “Often people shoot video just to get the sound,” McIntyre says.
The company developed the app the hard way, he notes, creating specific code for each phone rather than storing it on an Internet server. That’s so users don’t have to store their personal photos on an Internet server.
A basic, simple idea
“It’s a basic, simple idea,” McIntyre says. “You take a photo and add up to 30 seconds of audio. That’s enough time to tell a good story. We wanted to keep the files a good size for email and texting. The file is about the same size as the original image from an iPhone and everyone is used to emailing those.”
Once recorded, the app marries the audio and image, which can then be shared on social networks or saved to the user’s iPhone library.
“People are finding all sorts of ways to use it,” McIntyre says. “To capture their kids’ voices, or grandmom telling stories about her old photos, bloggers sharing travel and dining experiences, doctors, real estate agents.”
McIntyre says he feels two ways about the Instagram sale.
“It’s good for the industry overall,” he says. “It shows the tech industry that apps can take off and become worth a lot. It pushes companies to take technology to the next level. Mobile apps is definitely where people are going.”
But there is a downside, he adds. “There is a lot of pressure if everyone thinks your company can do the same thing. Those things are wildly unique and that’s not what you should be shooting for. You should shoot for a company with a solid product.”
McIntyre says the company will be looking for additional funding down the road and at present plans to stay in Atlanta.”
“It’s a great place for tech companies with no end of talent to select from,” he adds.
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