StitchaVid (StitchaVid.com) is a video and photography app that allows people to “stitch” together a video using photos in their iPhone or iPad gallery. You not only can choose the photos you want to use, but the app gives you a number of background music choices, the ability to add scrolling text and various filters, as well (and this is the differentiator!) to add voice annotations and “doodles”. It is a FREE app. Revenue is generated by in-app purchases of extended doodle capabilities, voice filters, image filters, branded images (e.g. rock bands or sports teams) and copyrighted music. You can find a sample of what a video using StitchaVid might look like here.
I am entering StitchaVid into the Four Hour Work Week App Challenge. The contest got me motivated to analyze the idea through marketÂ researchÂ techniques offered up in Chad Mureta’s post “How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram?“. I built mockups using well “Mockups” from Balsamiq. I created the video using iMovie. Lastly, I decided to track the time expended on this effort since I know how much Tim loves time management. I wanted to test for myself how long it would take for me to go through this process. Regardless of the outcome of the contest, this was a fun and rewarding learning experience.
Here is the process I followed:
1. Market Analysis (5.75 hours):Â This is where I spent the majority of my time which makes sense because you don’t want to invest the time and money building an app no one wants. There is clearly a market for apps that allow people to manage videos and photos. There are 1,000s of photo apps. “Photography” has its own category in the App Store. According to 148Apps.biz there areÂ 13,675 (2.19%) Photography and Video apps. The high is Games atÂ 109,154 (17.47%) and the low is Weather withÂ 2,598 (0.42%). Its a popular category, but nowhere near Games. Still, the art of taking and sharing photos continues to get reinvented as both the picture quality and camera features of smartphones improves.
The question is: “Do people want to take photos and convert them to video?” Here are the goals for StitchaVid:
a. The app MUST improve upon apps or ideas that already exist and have proven to be popular
b. I must be able to verify with existing market data that demand exists for my app concept
c. The app should enhance theÂ usabilityÂ of the communities my partner and I are already building (more on this later)
On April 26, 2012, the two top FREE apps were video or photo related (#1 Viddy and #2 SocialCam). Since the invention of the camera, humans have been fascinated with snapping images of reality and augmenting and repurposing those memories in a myriad of ways.
My app will be free and include plenty of in-app purchase options. That’s why I felt that the Top Free category was the best place for me to do my analysis. I wanted to look at the top video apps in the App Store for pointers on what people love about them. I then wanted to analyze the top app in the niche of creating videos from photos to see if a market even exists for such an idea. I found Animoto which is #68 in the Photography category for top grossing apps. Using Chad’s suggested research questions I came up with the following:
Viddy (Viddy, Inc)
– Why is this app successful? – Easy to use, it is amazingly social by design, it takes what is so popular about Instagram and does the same thing (basically) for videos, it removes some of the complexities of dealing with large video files by limiting the clip length to 15 seconds, slick clip editor that allows users to easily trim their videos to the 15 second limit.
– What is its rank and has it been consistent? #1 on Top FREE. Top 10 since Apr 11th.
– Why do people want this app? “Fun, great, cool”. Getting lots of traction from being billed as the Instagram for video.
– Has this app made the customer a raving fan? Average rating 4.5 stars so I would say “yes”.
– Does this app provoke an impulse buy? Yes but its subtle. The app has a marketplace feature that allows users to “packs” that enhance the video effects (e.g. filters) or add branded images. There is a “bundle” called “Linkin Park Bundle” that you can buy allowing you to add Linkin Park branding, etc.
– Does this app meet any of my needs? No because a 15 second video would be completely ineffective for a social site about cooking. However it may work in some of our other niches like surfing. Any of our niches that utilize GoPro cameras could work well with Viddy.
– Did I become a raving fan after trying it? “Interested” but not “raving”.
– Will the customer use it again? Clearly. It benefits from an incredible net effect like Instagram powered by social sharing.
– How are they marketing to their customers? There screen shots, icon design, and descriptions are first class.
– What is the competitive advantage of this app? Very well designed. Strong affiliate partners, social buzz.
– What does this app cost? Are there in-app purchases? Advertisements? Free and no ads.
– Why is this app successful? If Viddy is the Instagram of video, SocialCam is the Path analog. Even the user interface reminds me of Path. Unlike Viddy, I could not find video length limitations with SocialCam (but surely they exist). This apparently is their Viddy differentiator because they advertise this in their screenshots. Like Viddy it is also easy to use, it is amazingly social by design, it takes what is so popular from primarily Path but also Instagram and applied it to video.
– What is its rank and has it been consistent? #2 on Top FREE (4/26/12). Top 10 since Apr 21st.
– Why do people want this app? “Easy, Fun, Love it” were some of the reviews in the App Store. One person said that it brought them into a “family”, so community is a strong theme across the review. Â Getting lots of bounce from being billed as the Instagram for video.
– Has this app made the customer a raving fan? Average rating 4 stars. More negative ratings than I found on Viddy. Lots of comments about crashing the phone and other system type issues. One person said they are bailing for Viddy.
– Does this app provoke an impulse buy? If it does I couldn’t easily find it. I am sure they can/will incorporate in-app filter and music purchases.
– Does this app meet any of my needs? Yes in that it has no apparent video length limits, but it doesn’t solve the problem of people being unwilling or unable to create a good video that they must stage (e.g. someone cooking a mouthwatering Latin Fusion dish). Only picture can do this if the chef is eitherÂ unattractive, unpolished or nervous in front of a camera.
– Did I become a raving fan after trying it? Interested but not raving.
– What does this app cost? Are there in-app purchases? Advertisements? Free and no apparent ads.
Animoto (Animoto, Inc.)Â This is the app to beat. There are a limited number of video slideshow apps in the App Store and this is by far the top app that actually creates a video (e.g. slideshow) from photos on an iPhone. The other much less user friendly app is FotoSlide.
– Why is this app successful? Easy to use,Â good user interface. Has most of the features you would want in an app like this: cool music selections from sponsored artists, cool image transition effects, quality backgrounds, ability to add captions and video clips, and lastly social sharing. NOTE: To create a video with more than 12 photos requires an in-app purchase (smart!). What it is missing is a way to add voice annotations and are “doodles” (e.g. basic drawing) on the photos themselves.
– What is its rank and has it been consistent? According to AppFigures #195 on Apr 26th. This year the high was 162 and the low 203, so by and large the app is remaining in the top 200 apps in the Photography category. (See below)
– Why do people want this app? 4.5 star average rating among 633Â reviews. Numerous raving fans…lots of “I love it” reviews. I looked at the 3 and 4 star reviews to see what people did find wrong with the app. They mostly complained about the 12 pic limit. This of course is the in-app purchase, but I noticed some reviews complaining that the monthly subscription fees was too high. Full length videoÂ subscriptionsÂ cost $4.99 per month. Some people complained about uploading problems, password issues or not being able to view videos once upload to FB. Animoto has a popular internet application that does the same thing as their app. Some people complained that the iPhone app lacked many of the features found in the their internet app. However it appears the company has shored most of those up.
– Has this app made the customer a raving fan? Yes (see above).
– Does this app provoke an impulse buy? The 12 picture limit is fairly restrictive. I would love to know how many free users they convert to a paid plan.
– Does this app meet any of my needs? Yes – specifically if your goal is to turn your photos, video clips and music (NOTE: it’s their music – you can’t use music in your library) into good quality videos and share them. However if you are more interested in communicating about a photo or image, drawing circles around points of interests or adding voice annotations, this app does not do this. In the words of MichaelÂ ArringtonÂ of TechCrunch “We are unabashed fans of this do-one-thing-very-right service.”
– Did I become a raving fan after trying it? Yes
– How are they marketing to their customers? There screen shots, icon design, and descriptions are great. Furthermore there website and internet based product drives traffic to their app.
– What is the competitive advantage of this app? Best in class for creating videos from photos.
– What does this app cost? Are there in-app purchases? Advertisements? Free but limited to 12 pictures. Subscription service is $4.99 per month for unlimited pictures. Did not see other in-app purchase options. No ads.
2. Idea Alignment withÂ SuccessfulÂ Apps (1.25 hours):Â I believe that StitchaVid can improve upon the functionality found in Animoto by focusing more on giving users the ability to add their own voice annotations and doodles. “Doodles” are simple drawings of lines or circles the user can add to the photos. This is especially useful if you are trying to create an instructional video. Animoto does a great job of creating great transitions from one photo to the next. Backgrounds and transitions appears to be their focus. The focus of this app is to give users more flexibility in the creation of their videos.
The basis for this theory about a market need for creating videos from photos comes from my experience with StoveTopHero.com. StoveTop Hero is a cooking video contest site. You can upload videos right on the site via our YouTube Direct API. What we found however is many people didn’t like to create “staged” videos. In other words, a video that is planned andÂ choreographed. Some of the best video isÂ spontaneous. Just look at Viddy for an example of that. But in the case of filming food preparation or any instructional video for that matter, the chef is effectively “on stage” and many people simply aren’t comfortable in front of a video camera knowing that they must perform.
StitchaVid would allow people to create a video from photos, music, voice annotations, doodles, text captions and video clips.
Analysis Between StitchaVid and Animoto:
a.Â Why are people purchasing Animoto? After reading many of the reviews it appears that most people love the app because its easy to use and allows people to create a compelling video quickly. The biggest complaint users had was not being able to use their own downloaded music in the videos.
b. Can I do something to emulate this idea and take it to another level? Yes – I would focus on voice annotations and a simple drawing capability.
c. What other ideas would this appâ€™s demographic like?Â I could allow people to add music from their library but I am sure I would have to restrict them from being able to share those videos on YouTube and Facebook due to copyright concerns. Furthermore there’s are a lot of high quality indie and creative commons music out there. I could do a deal with 995Designs and license the “Band of the Day” music on their app or license Bonarro Radio music.
d.Â How many other similar apps are in the market? As per the above, the top app in this niche is Animoto. However you could take things to the next level by incorporating some of the innate social features found in Viddy and SocialCam.
e. How successful and consistent have they been? According to AppFigures.com, Animoto stayed consistently above 150 in the Photography category since its inception.
f. How does their marketing and pricing model work? FREE app with a paid subscription to create videos with more than 12 pictures. No other in-app purchases or advertisements that I could find. StitchaVid could provide unlimited pictures for free and then offer in-app purchases. I could also have more of a social networking appeal like Viddy or SocialCam.
3. App Design (2.5 hours)
I was very impressed with Viddy’s home screen and I felt that StitchaVid could benefit from some of Viddy’s social network capabilities. So my app became a combination of the best of Viddy and Animoto with the additional key features of being able to voice annotate the pictures and to add Doodles. “Doodles” allow you to add graphical snippets like callouts (comments), text annotations, shapes and lines to your photo.
Here is the video I created of the StitchaVid. I used iMovie andÂ Balsamiq Mockups. The background music was created by Kevin McCloud and used under Creative Commons license.
The video took me about 3-hours to complete. But it was my first iMovie video so the noob factor was really high. For an experienced iMovie user this video should have taken 1 to 1.5 hours to create.
That’s it. If you have any thoughts or advice for this app please leave comments…